Northern Ireland Screen's Digital Film Archive is a free public access resource for teachers, students, historians and anyone who has an interest in moving images. Spanning from 1897 to the present day, the films in the Digital Film Archive cover all aspects of life in Northern Ireland and includes everything from dramas to documentaries, newsreels and features, animation to amateur footage.
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Joe O’Neill demonstrates the magical alchemy of the forge in a film by Roy Spence created for the Ulster Folk Museum.
Documentary 1978 28 mins
From the collection of:
Enter the local forge built in 1830, now an active part of the Ulster Folk Museum. With each blow of the hammer imagine the rhythmic clink of the anvil and the creaking horse hide bellows stoking the fire. Joe O’Neill creates a clamp of earth and grass making wood and turf charcoal to supply a source of clean heat. Finally get a glimpse of the superstitions that surround the forge like going three times under the donkey’s belly followed by bread and jam to cure the whooping cough.
This version of the film is mute however the original soundtrack taught the history, tools and techniques of the blacksmith. As rural ways of life were engulfed by an ever more industrialised North the Ulster Folk Museum was born from a 1958 act of parliament. It continues to create a lively world of artefacts to preserve disappearing traditions for future generations. Twin brothers Roy and Noel Spence have been making films for over fifty years; with subjects including crafty leprechauns, creatures from outer space, and the undead. You can enjoy many of these fantastical creations and more of Roy’s craft documentaries on BFI Player. This film is courtesy of Roy Spence and is held in the Irish Film Archive.
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