THE MASTER CRAFTSMAN
OLD-WORLD MARVELS ARE PLENTIFUL IN PADDY EGAN'S STONE-BUILT WORKSHOP
ENTER PADDY Egan's workshop and you step back into a by-gone world.
The world of horsedrawn transport.
An 84-year-old multiskilled craftsman, Paddy is blessed with an array of old-time talents: woodworker, bodymaker, wheelwright, coach painter and restorer, to name but a few.
He works in the quiet of Ballymote's old stone-built Cornmill.
There, he produces works of beauty, pieces of inspiring art.
They include horsedrawn coaches, traps, and spoke wheels clad in iron and rubber.
He's even made a wedding cart and a hearse.
His skills are inherited, handed down in venerable tradition from the previous generation.
But they are enhanced and refined by a lifetime of loving and dedicated practice.
He said: "When I was young, my father, Roddy, had a workshop in O'Connell Street. We made traps, side cars and coaches."
Paddy himself became a well-known builder. Among his more notable jobs was the renovation of Maugherow Church, in North Sligo, after it was burned to the ground. He also built the two secondary schools in his native town, Colaiste Mhuire and Corran College.
Paddy retired about 15 years ago. But a new horizon loomed.
He explained: "FAS was doing a workshop in the town teaching young fellows how to make wheels.
"I was the instructor with them for about two years. Then the course closed down and I started doing bits on my own."
Although most men of Paddy's age would be taking it easy, he simply says: "It's something for me to do every day." And he enjoys the company of others in the workshop. But his modesty belies his passion.
He says it would take him about a month to make a trap; a week for a wheel. "I do all except the upholstery," he said. Recently, Paddy's skills were preserved for posterity on a DVD entitled 'Wheelwright – The Master Craftsman'. It was made by Patricia McHugh, from Coolaney. And it may be viewed on www.ballymotecommunityenterprise.com