Young at Heart Tour to The Forge, Mountbellew
Young at Heart Tour 24th June, 2019
Yesterday eleven of us set off for Mountbellew on our much anticipated tour of The Forge, Mountbellew. We as a committee, made a conscious decision last year to make shorter trips and explore the hidden gems in our own area. Last year, it was Galway City Museum and this year it was The Forge in Mountbellew both of which did not disappoint. The Forge is an ongoing project which is supported and run by the local heritage group with the support of the wider community.
The Forge Museum
It is located in a very scenic area near the woods in Mountbellew and our guide for the tour was Jimmy Noone who volunteers there most days and leads the project. I was particularly interested,as it is something I would love for Barnaderg but as yet, there are no suitable premises available. We can live in hope!!!
I don’t know what I expected but I was very impressed both with the building, its history and the enormous amount of work which has already been completed, through a mixture of grants and their local 50/50 draw and other fundraising projects. It is a large barn-like structure which was the original forge on the Bellew Estate and the bellows and anvil can still be seen there today along with all the tools of the trade. Restoration is being supervised by Christy Cuniffe of Architectural advisor to Galway Co. Council and he ensures that best practice is adhered to at all times.
He museum is also home to a boat that is thought to be a thousand years old which is carefully encased to preserve it. It is an astonishing sight.
Once we had browsed at our leisure and after Jimmy had answered all our questions, he then took us to the walled garden. Once a garden full of flowers, the Bellew family uprooted it all to sow vegetables during the time of the famine. Remnants of a potting shed and a bell tower are still to be seen there and also an ice-house. There are also remnants of a peach house as they grew their own peaches on the estate. The bell tower was used to ring the bell when visitors were approaching the house to alert the labourers working in the garden to hide. At no stage, were they to be seen by visiting guests.
There is also an apple tree on the site which is thought to be the oldest in the country a fact that is waiting to be verified by experts from Seed Savers in Scariff, Co. Clare.
A great big thank you to our Chairperson Eileen O’Connell who organnised the tour. We all enjoyed a lovely meal in the Malt House, in Mountbellew afterwards.
The following photos of our day tell the story of our visit: