Banagher Development group assisted in the  organisation of a two-day iron ore smelting demonstration open to the public on 15th & 16th of July 2023. This demonstration coincided with the annual That Beats Banagher Festival 2023.  

The demonstration was led by Dr  Paul Rondalez, who has had a lifelong interest in the history of mining and metal production. He graduated as an archaeologist from Ghent University (Belgium) with a master’s in the early iron production of Belgium, moved to Ireland to work as an archaeologist on infrastructure projects, and then went to University College Cork where he did a PhD in 2014 on late-medieval iron production in Ireland.


Currently, Paul is a full-time writer of specialist reports on the remains of metal production found on archaeological sites, is Chair of the Historical Metallurgy Society, and is the main organiser of the Caherconnell International Furnace Festival and most recently Smelting Festival Banagher 2024.

Graph with the analysis results including the Banagher ore. Derryarkin and the Tipperary ores are other bog iron ores and, as you can see, the Banagher ore, at about 50% iron oxide.


Members of the Banagher development group worked with Paul to identify areas surrounding Banagher where iron ore was available.

Iron ore was collected and analyzed by Paul and his team of experts. A traditional smelting pot (bloomery)was built, where the temperature was kept low enough so that the iron did not melt. This produces a spongy mass of iron called a bloom, which then must be consolidated with a hammer to produce wrought iron. 

See video HERE

The ‘bloom’ was shared with some of the professional Blacksmiths who were present and each was set a challenge to make a piece from the iron which was produced during the smelting process.

Paul and his team of experts are returning to Banagher on 26th-28th July 2024.