The Blacksmith



Ulster Folk and Transport Museum





28min 25sec







Digitised as part of Unlocking Film Heritage


British Film Institute, Gothic Films, Irish Film Archive, Roy Spence

Rights Holder

Irish Film Archive, Roy Spence

It is illegal to download, copy, print or otherwise utilise in any other form this material, without written consent from the copyright holder.


Joe O’Neill demonstrates the magical alchemy of the forge in a film by Roy Spence created for the Ulster Folk Museum.

Enter the local forge built in 1830, now an active part of the Ulster Folk Museum. With each blow of the hammer imagine the rhythmic clink of the anvil and the creaking horse hide bellows stoking the fire. Joe O’Neill creates a clamp of earth and grass making wood and turf charcoal to supply a source of clean heat.  Finally get a glimpse of the superstitions that surround the forge like going three times under the donkey’s belly followed by bread and jam to cure the whooping cough.


This version of the film is mute however the original soundtrack taught the history, tools and techniques of the blacksmith. As rural ways of life were engulfed by an ever more industrialised North the Ulster Folk Museum was born from a 1958 act of parliament. It continues to create a lively world of artefacts to preserve disappearing traditions for future generations. Twin brothers Roy and Noel Spence have been making films for over fifty years; with subjects including crafty leprechauns, creatures from outer space, and the undead. You can enjoy many of these fantastical creations and more of Roy’s craft documentaries on BFI player. This film is courtesy of Roy Spence and is held in the Irish Film Archive.


Digitised as part of Unlocking Film Heritage 

A Gothic Films production

Directed by Roy Spence

Interviewee / Contributor: Joe O'Neill



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