Categories of Special Interest
Architectural Historical Social
1900 - 1920
Detached two-bay single-storey forge, built c. 1910 and renovated c. 1993, now disused. Pitched natural slate roof with raised rendered verges to gable ends and having cast-iron rainwater goods. Red brick chimneystack attached to the northeast gable end. Rubble stone walls with modern wall plaque to north elevation, reading 'MaEoin's Forge'. Square-headed window openings with two-over-two pane timber sliding sash windows, wrought-iron window guards, cut stone lintels and cut stone sills. Square-headed carriage arch opening with double-leaf timber battened door to northwest elevation. Square-headed door opening with timber battened door having a limestone lintel and threshold to southeast elevation. Foundations of house burnt in 1920 to east, and commemorative stone to south. Rubble sandstone boundary wall to site having paired limestone gate posts with looped wrought-iron flat bar gates. Located to the east of Ballinalee, adjacent to rural road junction.
Despite extensive recent renovations, this appealing small-scale former forge/smithy retains its early character and form. The form of this building, with the wide opening adjacent to the road, is indicative of its original use as a forge. It represents an interesting relic of Irish rural society before the widespread introduction of the motor car made forges largely redundant. This small-scale structure is of particular significance due to its important historical connections with General Sean MacEoin (1893 - 1973), the 'Blacksmith of Ballinalee'. General MacEoin is famous for his exploits with the North Longford Flying Column of the Longford Brigade between c. 1917 and c. 1921, particularly the engagements with the British at Ballinalee in November 1920 and at the Clonfin ambush in February 1921. After the Battle of Ballinalee, the house (footings still survive adjacent to the forge) and forge were set on fire by the Black and Tans. McEoin later directed activity against anti-Treaty forces during the Civil War (1922 - 23), particularly in the Mayo and Sligo areas, and was appointed as Quartermaster General of the Irish Army in March 1927, and then Chief of Staff in February 1929. MacEoin served as a TD in the Longford - Westmeath constituency (1932 - 37, 1948 - 65) and in Athlone-Longford (1937 - 48) until he was defeated in the 1965 general election. During a long and distinguished political career he served as Minister for Justice (February 1948-March 1951) and Minister for Defence (March - June 1951 and June 1954 - March 1957). He stood twice as candidate for the Presidency, against Seán T. O'Kelly in 1945, and Eamon de Valera in 1959, but was defeated on both occasions. The forge at Ballinalee survived and continued to be operated by Sean's brother, Micheal, throughout the mid-twentieth century. It fell into disuse but restoration work on it was carried out under a FAS scheme for the centenary of MacEoin's birth in 1993.