The town of Woodford Is located in a scenic area of South East County Galway, with the River Shannon on one side and on the other the Slieve Aughty mountains.
Woodford is equidistant from Galway and Limerick, an hour from Shannon airport and three hours from Dublin. There are two golf courses within easy reach of the town, at Curra and Portumna, and there is fishing and boating on the Shannon. The ajoining area is prefect for walking through woods and open moors .
Woodford is well placed for travelling on to the other scenic areas of Galway and Connemara.
This year the Sliabh Aughty Furnace Project is holding its third Furnace Festival in Woodford, Co. Galway.
The idea of this year’s Festival is to re-introduce bloomery iron smelting into Ireland.
Woodford was the seat of blast furnace iron production from 1681 till 1780 and the event will take place in the field next to the bay which supplied water for the ironworks.
From Monday 20 to Friday 24 August, Lee Sauder from the USA will be training up six Irish people, two groups of three, in the art of bloomery iron production.
Only local materials, iron ore, charcoal and clay, will be used.
Lee, arguably one of the best bloomery smelters in the World, has been smelting iron directly from the ore for twenty years and has over 200 smelts under his belt.
On Saturday 25 August, the trainees will carry out their first independent smelts. Other teams of seasoned smelters will be making blooms in a variety of furnaces.
There are now about thirty smelters committed to participating from as far as Poland, Denmark, Germany, Luxembourg and the US. This means ten to twelve furnaces will be blazing away.
The day after, Irish blacksmiths will be given the opportunity to get acquainted with home-grown bloomery iron. As opposed to the training part, the weekend events are open to the public.
After the event, the trainee smelters have committed to carrying out further smelts, at other events or on their own, and there are plans to make the Furnace Festival a recurring event.
If anybody is interested in attending or would like more information check our website www.furnaceproject.org