Forging new talent in an age-old craft
FARRIERS from all over England, Scotland and Ireland gathered in Newbridge at the weekend to pit their craft skills against one another.
Fifty-two competitors took part in the 11th annual Horseshoeing Championships with competition in all classes - including a competition for women farriers which attracted seven entrants. This was won by Hanna Heffernan from nearby Vickerstown, just across the county bounds in Laois.
Eddie Channon's forge at Roseberry, on the edge of Newbridge, in the heart of Kildare's horse sector, was a hive of activity for two days as the entrants worked against the clock and under the eagle eye of expert judges.
Eddie Channon is a master farrier and blacksmith and comes originally from Clonmel but he has been operating around the Curragh of Kildare for the past 25 years. He is the third generation of his family in the business and he is proud that his own son, Ted, is now also carrying on the tradition. His brothers, Joe and Ian, still run the original family forge in the heart of Clonmel. One of the farriers competing, Josh Wilson, from Fife in Scotland, is the eighth generation of his family to follow the trade.
For Eddie, the competition is about maintaining the craft at a high standard and about learning new skills and tricks of the trade. "It's really a learning event where younger apprentices especially can meet the more experienced farriers. It's also a social event - just good craic really," he explains.
The festivities concluded late on Saturday evening with a gala dinner in Lawlor's Hotel in Naas where 65 guests sat down to eat. The event began as a one-day competition with fewer than 20 competitors in 2006.
And yes, Eddie Channon is already working on plans for next year's competition.