Once upon a time, almost a hundred years ago, a south Armagh man by the name of Frank King made his way to a rural hillside in County Monaghan, where he set up a makeshift blacksmith’s forge in a roadside shed. He met and married a local girl, Kathleen, and moved further up Mullyash mountain, close to her family home.
King’s Forge was a thriving blacksmith’s business, and became a local landmark. Set in a somewhat remote area outside the town of Castleblayney, King’s Forge was nonetheless the scene of many a debacle, located, as it was, at the junction of a popular smuggling route across the border with Northern Ireland.
Smuggling was not the only underhand activity. Have a look at this photo from the 1920s, which shows a line-up of proud policemen, standing outside the old police constabulary in Castleblayney, with the stash of poitín equipment they had seized from King’s Forge.
Over the years, improvements were made to their humble home. In the 1930s, the Kings added a second storey to the original cottage. To one side was a henhouse, while to the other, the turf house connected their home to the forge.
As years passed and progress brought tractors and machinery to local farms, the need for a blacksmith lessened, and business slacked. When Mr and Mrs King passed away, the old forge was left empty, and it wasn’t long before the house became uninhabitable.
In the 1970s, the forge changed hands, coincidentally to another, although unrelated, Frank King. He never made use of the buildings, and eventually put the property back on the market.
One foggy night late in 2003, Grace came upon the derelict building. After more than two years of house-hunting, the ‘For Sale’ sign seemed to shine like a beacon in the fog. She went back to see the forge again the following day, and six months later it was hers.
That’s not the end of the story. After two years of work on a tight budget, the house was ready to move into, and the day came when once again smoke could be seen billowing from the chimney of King’s Forge.
Over the years, numerous passers-by have stopped to share their tales of growing up while the forge was smoking away. As children on their way home from Mullyash National School, many were called to stop and hold a horse for a few minutes, that often ended up in hours. Others told of Mrs King, who always had the kettle on the boil, and loved callers to stop awhile.
Now the forge is once again a busy workshop, where the kiln is kept going, fusing glass into shapes large and small, in every colour of the rainbow. The mountaintop view from the studio window reveals miles and miles of unspoilt rural landscape, covering all the drumlins of Co. Monaghan, and much of Co. Cavan beyond. Nothing could be more inspiring.
The kitchen is now where the turf house once stood, and the kettle is still kept boiling!
Thank you for taking the time to read the true story of King’s Forge, Mullyash, Castleblayney, Co. Monaghan. When you choose a piece of hand-crafted King’s Forge glass, you’re keeping a little piece of Irish history alive in your hands.