Vernacular Forged Wrought Iron Gates of County Kilkenny

Photo of field gate detail at Cappagh, Courtesy of Shem Caulfield
Photo of field gate detail at Cappagh, Courtesy of Shem Caulfield

The vernacular forged wrought iron field gate is an important, but often overlooked, cultural heritage element in our rural landscape.  The Heritage Office of Kilkenny County Council commissioned the Kilkenny Field Gates Project to identify, record and raise awareness about wrought iron field gates in County Kilkenny.

These traditional fieldgates were forged by blacksmiths in times past. They are functional and beautiful pieces of craft which are disappearing from our rural landscape. The project, undertaken by Shem Caulfield, and overseen by a sub-committee of the Kilkenny Heritage Forum has produced the following:

• A brochure of the ‘The Vernacular Forged Wrought Iron Field Gates’ which illustrates and tells the story behind the vernacular wrought iron Irish field gate: its historical context; the skills and craftsmanship of the blacksmith; advice on best conservation practices; and practical solutions to adapting the gates to suit modern farming practices.

• A poster illustrating various images of forged wrought iron field gates in Kilkenny

• Two short films on the value of traditional fieldgates and advice on their care:

– A short introduction to vernacular field gates – click here  to view film

– Short film giving advice on how to conserve and retain vernacular field gates in today’s farming landscape – click here  to view film. The following will be made available shortly:

• Photographic survey and report on the condition of approximately 200 field gates in the Thomastown, Inistioge, Graiguenamanagh and wider Castlecomer areas

• Resources for primary schools to teach about traditional field gates

• Audio recordings about blacksmithing practices and traditions in the Thomastown and Castlecomer areas.

This project is an action of the Kilkenny Heritage Plan. It is co-ordinated and funded by the Heritage Office of Kilkenny County Council, in partnership with the Heritage Council and the Kilkenny Heritage Forum. The following is a link to the Irish Artist Blacksmiths Association .