The Forge – The Back of the Forge is Back to Stay

Tadhg and Nicole McGillicuddy in their recently opened business, The Forge in Castleisland for which they did some research while on their honeymoon. ©Photograph: John Reidy
Tadhg McGillicuddy at the gates of The Forge with its address cast in iron at the entrance to the newest meeting place in Castleisland. ©Photograph: John Reidy

The young people of the area think it’s the ‘coolest place in town’ – their elders are delighted to feel a new beat in the heart of the Latin Quarter’s oldest cluster.

This was a neighbourhood of dwellings from which the music of lasts and anvils, bicycle repairs and porter barrels competed with the din of a busy railway yard. But those were the days.

There was a danger a few years ago that the well earned ‘Back of the Forge’ tag, conferred by the people of the area generations ago, would be lost as it was being referred to as Forge Road and Market Place – possibly and vaguely referencing the Tralee Road side’s equally old Market Cross title.

The Launch of The Forge

The recent launch of The Forge and the opening of the gate carrying the cast iron and ancient title The Back of the Forge is a salute to the generations who traipsed daily between the Tralee and Killarney roads as they went about their daily lives.

Having worked in hospitality all his young life, moving into retail was a big step for Tadhg McGillicuddy.

He gained huge experience in various hotels throughout his career and in particular at Ballygarry Estate under the guidance of his first cousin Pádraig McGillicuddy.

Eco-friendly and Waste Reduction

“I have always had the desire to have something of my own and when on honeymoon a few years ago with my wife Nicole, we came across numerous of these styles of stores in New Zealand; good coffee, local and handmade retail products, with an emphasis on being eco-friendly and reducing waste,” said Tadhg revealing a strain of his influences which led to The Forge at The Back of the Forge.

“With the pandemic taking effect in March 2020 while still working in the hotel business, I had more time to focus on my future.

Emphasis on Supporting Local

“Chances are if the pandemic didn’t happen, I would still be in hospitality but it did and now here I am,” Tadhg continued.

“The time allowed me to plan and research and put the ideas in my head down on paper and we spent a lot of time researching and talking to local producers and learning about their products.

“We place a huge emphasis on supporting local, small businesses – giving them an outlet to display

and sell their products.

Not only are you supporting my small business but you are supporting many other small producers/businesses.

Up to 30 Local Producers

“We currently have approx 25-30 local producers who are supplying us local bread, dairy, honey, sea salt, jams, relishes. potatoes, vegetables and pottery to name a few but I hope to grow this in the near future.

“As well as being a market store, we teamed up with local producer, Killarney coffee who roast their own coffee beans daily just 20 minutes away from The Forge, which means we have a fresh delivery of coffee beans every day and again supporting local.

“The popularity of coffee has seen a massive surge in recent years and especially since the pandemic when that was the main outlet for people to grab a takeaway coffee and go for a walk with a friend.

“Along with our local coffee, we also have local tasty treats delivered freshly to us every day,” said Tadhg.

Years of Service in The Forge

The retired anvil at the entrance to The Forge saw years of service in the forge on the corner where Tralee Road meets The Back of the Forge.

There, and at The Market Bar, Tadhg’s ancestors plied their trades and that anvil added its music to the symphony of its time and place.

My own grandfather, Johnny Reidy worked in that forge before he moved to the top of the town and opened his own there. I have an old blacksmith’s hammer belonging to him and one of these days I hope to reunite it with the anvil by presenting it to Tadhg and Nicole at The Forge and maybe beating out a note or two to mark a joyful reunion between hammer and anvil.

Find out more about The Forge with a click on the Link here:

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