Irish Forge, 1750s
The late-18th century Irish Forge is a blacksmith shop that stood in County Fermanagh in the Irish province of Ulster, in what is now Northern Ireland. Like their farming customers in Ulster, blacksmiths and their skills immigrated to colonial America along with other Scots-Irish. Immigrants with special craft or trade skills were recruited by colonial merchants and governments in the early years of colonization and intermittently when the colonies needed specialized labor. These artisans provided labor, services, and goods to ensure the success of the colonies. Blacksmiths in particular possessed skills which were needed to produce and repair tools for the cultivation of land and the building of houses and infrastructure.
The 18th-century blacksmith in Ireland was a businessman. Although the smith might be engaged in farming, their primary function in the local economy was blacksmithing. They provided important services to their community. The smiths’ primary job was to repair broken items. In rural villages they also made new items when needed since access to merchandise was often limited.