The Blacksmith

Vol. 1 No. 2 - 1970

The Blacksmith

by S.J.W. Cooper

The growth of a new city creates extensive environmental and social changes in the designated area. This is very evident especially in Sector One which comprises the townlands of Taghnevan, Tullygally, Legaghory, Drumgor, Monbrief, Moyraverty and Drumgask.

The homes of most of the inhabitants of these townlands have been removed and their owners and occupiers have departed to their localities or are deceased. In general these people were hard-working, industrious people who, by their efforts, not only improved their own comforts but contributed to the higher standard of living we all enjoy.

Moses Carson, who resided in Legaghory, is a good example. When talking to some members of the Historical Society, Moses had a revealing story.

He was born in the nearby townland of Corcreaney in 1873. In the 1880's he began to work as an apprentice blacksmith with Joseph Ward, who had a smithy at Gibson's Hill. During his apprenticeship the pay was £1 per year.

Five years' apprenticeship

After completing his five years' apprenticeship, his wages were four shillings per week. A journeyman blacksmith advised Moses Carson to go the rounds and "see all you can." He did just that and in 1894 he opened his own smithy. This was situated at the top of the hill, beside "Solomon's Quarry" - now filled in - and about a hundred yards from the existing linen factory of McCaw, Allan and Company.

Building used as a smithy by Moses Carson

Solomon Mcllwaine, the owner of the Quarry, had 15 horses used for transporting the basalt stones and Moses Carson was kept very busy. His workmanship was renowned and horses were brought from far and near to be fitted with new shoes. For supplying the iron, making and fitting the shoes the charge was two shillings. Before the First World War the nails used were made by the blacksmith.

Almost anything in iron was made by Moses Carson - ploughs, harrows and farm gates. Many examples of these gates can be seen in the locality and they seem as good now as the day they were made.

For more than 20 years the smithy remained at the Hill but, through his skill and industry, Moses Carson was able to purchase his own property at Legaghory and it was here that the smithy remained till his retirement.

Meeting place for the neighbourhood

It was in the smithy that the folk of the neighbourhood met in the evenings and the happenings and topics of the day were discussed. It was in the smithy too that many local wedding parties were held.

The home of Moses Carson in Legaghory was originally mud-wall with a roof of thatch. This in latter years was partially re-built and extended and the thatch was replaced with slate. Water and electricity were laid on an

Mr. Carson in his years of retirement enjoyed, with his family, a comfortable standard of living. He died in 1968, aged 95, and shortly after, the family moved into Lurgan and the house was removed to make way for the creation of a new development and a different way of life.