About Andrew Doherty

Hello.  Thanks for dropping by.  I am the project leader of the Tides and Tales Maritime Community Project.  I maintain and update this site and publish a free-to-access blog on the last Friday of each month.

This project started as a personal mission to try to preserve the heritage of a way of life.  The river has always been an important part of my life and of the harbour communities where I live.  However, after the salmon and eel fishing bans in the late noughties, I realised that one of the crucial ways in which our river traditions were passed on, was disappearing.  For generations, we communicated the heritage, folklore and traditions of our community through story and song when we fished and where we mended nets and maintained boats.  The loss of fishing has impacted this transfer of knowledge.

I started blogging about it, recording the heritage that would have previously been communicated through fishing and its associated activities, and I’ve been doing it since.  The first blog post appeared in May 2014.  But this was always a community response and I have had countless people support me along the way, principally my wife, partner Deena Bible, and my children.  But also an incredible bunch of local history nuts who have done everything to support me with guidance, information, resources and friendship.

The project has been funded through a part-time job and in August 2023 I took a leap of faith and started to work on the project, sustaining myself through my writing and other work.  However, I had a health scare in late 2023.   Whilst lying in hospital I became acutely aware of the thousands I have invested into the project since I got started and that this was a cost borne by my family.  I also became aware of all the goodwill and support that was available to me.

The project is now supported by a voluntary management committee and hopefully in time a CLG.  I still have some private initiatives in the fire and in time I will separate them from the website.  I’m in transition, so please stick with us.

So where has the passion to write about maritime traditions come from?

I was born in 1965 and I have lived in the Cheekpoint area all my life. My mother’s people were fisherfolk, my fathers were seafarers and although they were both from the village they met and courted in London. They returned in 1965 to Cheekpoint and were married. I’m the eldest of six and now the father of three.

When I completed my schooling in 1983 I turned to fishing, as seafaring was in decline. In the 1990s restrictions and government policies started to impact the fishing practices in traditional villages such as Cheekpoint, and at the same time that my first child was born in, 1996, I started to seriously look at alternatives. In 2006 the principal fishery, salmon drift-netting closed. In 2008 I wrote a dissertation on the plight of my community as a consequence of the closure.

In 2012 I started writing a blog, as a means of gathering my thoughts, particularly on the social situation in my own community and specifically on government inaction on preserving or supporting traditional fishing communities to remain viable. My means of expression in the blog also reflected the values, ethos and practices that I had grown up with. No one seemed very interested in what I had to say, or perhaps how I was saying it. I wondered if rather than banging on about how bad our situation was, perhaps people might respond better to a different type of message.

Fishermen are born competitors and pulling together doesn’t always come naturally. But we can and do pull together at times; an example of what we have done in the community is this event as part of the Ireland Newfoundland exchange of 2005, filmed by my friend Brian Walsh of Hi lite TV.

Through my blog, I now hope to create an awareness, appreciation and perhaps an appetite for the preservation of the way of life I have grown up with. I explain it and share some of my ideas and stories here. I also hope that in reading my thoughts, people might be encouraged to visit with us here, and perhaps pay a small stipend towards seeing the area through a fisherman’s eye. In the last few ye, ars we have hosted many visitors and walking parties to learn about our community, the history, heritage, flora, fauna and wildlife. I can’t claim to be making any major inroads into reversing the community’s fortunes, but I can say at least that I am trying to do something positive. Friends like Mark Power at Waterford Epic Locations certainly help.

In October 2017 I published my first book, Before the Tide Went Out. My second book Waterford Harbour Tides and Tales was published by the History Press in September 2020.  My next book; The Prong, Curious Craft of the Three Sister Rivers will be published, hopefully, in 2024.

I’m happiest researching and writing about our way of life and more fully understanding the history and heritage that surrounds us here. I love to get readers’ feedback, ideas for stories, or specific information they may have or come across about the harbour area. My blog is published on the last Friday of each month.