Jan 18, 2016
Finin Liam Christie is a blacksmith and carpenter in Southern
Ireland who's been blacksmithing since he was 16 years old.
Originally from Dublin, he was a blacksmith apprentice for the
national railway before working as the official contractor for the
City of Dublin. A father of five, he owns his own forge where he
specializes in steel and ironwork, primarily making gates and
railings with traditional techniques. Finin is also a model steam
What We Talked About
- Finin's grandfather, James Christie, was considered one of
Ireland's best blacksmiths and worked for the national railway.
Although he died when Finin was just 5 years old, Finin had a
five-year apprenticeship at the railway where he was taught by his
grandfather's apprentices. Finin says he received excellent
training by these older blacksmiths just before their
- After his railway work, Ireland had an economic downturn and
Finin struck off on his own. He traveled by bike with his anvil on
the back, his grinder along the crossbar and his sledge hammer
across the handlebars. “I used to knock on every door in Dublin
that had a bent gate and I'd ask them if they wanted me to repair
their gates,” he recalls.
- One year later Finin was able to purchase his own van and the
next year he registered his own business and began getting steady
work. “There was no work then, but I made work,” Finin says. “And
I've been working for myself ever since.”
- Finin's specialty is traditional style railings and gates. He
was the official contractor for the City of Dublin for about 16
years, working on government buildings, city parks and county
council houses. He did a lot of restoration of old gates and had 18
men working for him.
- He stopped working for the city about three years ago and now
operates out of his own shop, which he says is about 40'x20' and
has three anvils. He teaches some classes out of his workshop, but
finds it hard to entice young people into such a physically
demanding and tedious trade.
- Finin has a couple other hobbies he enjoys when he's not
smithing. He’s a boxer, and he has a gym on the other side of his
workshop. He also builds model steam trains by hand.
- If Finin could work with any blacksmith, dead or alive, he
would choose his grandfather: “Apart from being my grandfather,
they say he was one of the greatest [blacksmiths] in the country.
He was a great man. He was ahead of his time,” Finin says. After a
53 year blacksmithing career, his grandfather died on the job.
Finin still has his grandfather's tools, which he treasures.
- Finin's 9 year old son has shown some interest in blacksmithing
and they enjoy working on projects together.
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