Riches of Clare Exhibition - Earth collect, preserve, interpret and display the material culture relating to the history of County Clare, both in the museum building and online,
as an educational resource and a socially inclusive cultural service for the people of Clare and visiting tourists.

Blacksmith’s Tongs

This blacksmiths tongs, used by the Curtis family from Kilnaboy, is an example of a tool that has changed little over hundreds of years. Members of this family, who have lived in Kilnaboy north Clare, for over five hundred years, are renowned for their healing abilities with horses and their rituals date back to antiquity.

Ancient Irish law and legend combine to tell us that the master blacksmith enjoyed the highest status among craftworkers, and from the earliest times were considered to have special powers. They provided shoes for horses and donkeys that were used both for transport and for farm work. Blacksmiths were also vital in making and repairing farm implements such as scythes, sickles, spades, reaping hooks, harrows and ploughs.

In an article called ‘The Sorcerers Apprentice’, the lender of the these objects, PJ Curtis, describes visiting a dying horse with his father Pat Joe Curtis many years ago. His father possessed ‘the cure” for sick animals and was at this point bringing his young son along to learn the craft of animal healing. There was blood letting of the horse involved and the young PJ reacted badly to this. He was too squeamish and thereafter his father never brought him along to cure sick animals again.

Another branch of the Curtis family were noted healers of people, using natural remedies.

Ref: 2000.209

Blacksmith’s Tongs, Ref: 2000.209
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