Furnace Festival – Smelting Weekend

Date 25.08.2018 - 26.08.2018
Time 12:00 PM
Organiser Sliabh Aughty Furnace Project

Supported by Galway 2020’s Small Towns Big Ideas programme, for the first time in almost 250 years, the ancient craft of iron smelting was revived in spectacular fashion in the village of Woodford with the Furnace Festival 2018.

Throughout the international iron smelting festival, which was organised to revive interest throughout East Galway in this ancient tradition, newly-built shaft furnaces flared into life on the slopes of the Slieve Aughty Mountains.
The festival saw a guild of eight people train as iron smelters, operate the furnaces and produce the iron which was forged into a variety of artefacts. The group of smelters was trained in the skill of bloomery smelting by master smelter Lee Sauder, who was over from Virginia to supervise the training programme.

Craftsmen and smiths from the USA, Poland, Germany, Denmark, France, Luxembourg, England, Wales, and the Netherlands also took part in the festival. “These craftsmen represented some of the best talent around and include some of the most experienced smelters, master blade smiths and even a German secondary school teacher who managed to put iron smelting on the local school curriculum,” says Furnace Festival co-founder, Paul Rondelez.

Paul Rondelez is one of the country’s leading experts in the history of iron production in Ireland. He founded the festival in 2016 with Ger Madden, a local historian and the first person to publish on the Sliabh Aughty furnaces.
Throughout the duration of the festival, the East Galway Family History Society will also have an exhibition in the heritage centre on early iron production in Ireland, with a special focus on Woodford. A scale model of a 17th Century blast furnace, just like the one which operated in Woodford, was also on display at the centre.

Find more information on the Sliabh Aughy Furnace Project Facebook page.

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