Tides & Tales Mayday Mile 2024

May marks our annual fundraiser for the local RNLI station that we depend on for so much- Dunmore East RNLI. This is our 4th year to participate and this time round we plan to do at least a mile a day for the month of May – 31 miles. My wife Deena and I will travel about the locality and try build up the miles as we go. Below is our record of the month. Please drop back to see how we go.

It’s all about raising those necessary funds to keep the vital service that is our local RNLI. So if you would like to make a contribution you can do so, by visiting our donation page here. You might also prefer to give directly to the team page – or some of the other team members. The page for the Team Dunmore East is here. It all goes to the one brilliant cause.

May 1st happened on a Wednesday this year. It was also, sadly, the date of the funeral of our neighbour Elizabeth Kavanagh nee Doherty. Lizzy is the last of her siblings to die, the children of Mary Kate Power and Captain Andrew Doherty who was pilot master at Dunmore East for many years and served aboard the Lily Doreen. Our Mayday Mile kicked off with a walk home from the graveyard after Lizzy’s funeral.

A MTB passing out of Dunmore East in WWII with the Lily Doreen at her moorings
May 2nd, Ellen joined me for a walk around the village block in a break in the rain

May 3rd – a long walk this evening from home to a family gathering in Faithlegg via the Minaun, Glen, Faithlegg House and the Kennels. Then home the main road after dinner.

Saturday May 4th, Deena and I took the ferry from Passage East and enjoyed a walk from Ballyhack to Arthurstown through the bluebell woods. Martha White coming against us here, and it was nice to catch up with the lady and her husband. I posted several images on Facebook and we got some more donations as a result. At the €100 mark now
Sunday 5th May – Deena is on the first of two 12 hr shifts but I’m afraid my choice of footwear for yesterdays walk went against me. Still managed a stroll around the village at dawn, and the dawn chorus was beautiful.

May 6th – Deena working again, I had planned a walk in Kilmacow along the River Blackwater but the weather didn’t cooperate. Later I drove over the Woodstown and did a gentle walk along the strand around Knockavelish and back via Bothar an mBan Gorm.

May 7th – Deena did the necessary today as I spent the day researching, writing and a bit of gardening.

May 8th – A lovely walk this morning from Dunmore to Portally by road and then back by the coastal path to the village. Met Patrick Glody on the way and had a catch up, and me oul school mate from Faithlegg Brendan Foley at Ladies Cove. Always love the chat with Brendan, reminds me of our childhood and early days of fishing. Deena cooled off with a swim, while I recovered from the shock of turning on the wi fi to discover I had been asked to speak to the Canadian Ambassador to Ireland at an event in Waterford about Canada Street. Apparently, a recent blog of mine had piqued her interest.

All quiet as we pass the station

May 9th – Up at dawn this morning and as Deena is in work again I set off myself before she woke. Got a stunning pre-sunrise at Moran’s Poles before heading to the village, up Power’s Hill, the Old Road, Deerpark, the Car Rd, and then home via the main road. Deena was just up making tea as I came back – another 5km to the total. We are now up to 27 miles of the 31 target…so as expected we will shoot past it. The total raised at this point is €121. Thank you to those who have donated so generously.

Always love walking in the early morning light

May 10th – St Johns Pill walk – my first organised walk of the year and I though I may as well combine the two in terms of adding the distance. Deena did a separate walk today so combined it added up to 3 miles

May 11th – Deena did the duties today, as I had some work to do. The Lifeboats of Dunmore, Fethard and Kilmore welcomed the dawn this morning off Hook Head, while ashore thousands participated on Darkness into Light walks and Deena’s swimming buddies entered the water to welcome sunrise.

May 12th – a beautiful sunrise start for me, and later the visit of a cruise ship – Seabourne Ovation on a stroll along the local strand. A lovely way to build up the appetite for us both. Later we hiked the Hurthill where we waited for the outbound ship to pass almost 300 feet beneath. A lovely sight in the gathering gloom of dusk Just over 1/3 of the way there with terrific weather recently, but the forecast is set to change. Hopefully we can keep it going.

A 7min video of the Seabourne Ovation passing beneath us on the walk

May 13th was a wet and windy start so rather than walk I sat down to write…forgot to stop, but Deena clocked up another 1.5 miles. We had set a target of 31 miles initially, or rather the website did it for us…but we managed to work out how to change this today so we have now doubled it to 64 miles. 1.5 is the lowest on any day so certainly doable.

May 14th, we split up today, but not intentionally. I had to go to the bank and was so disheartened when I left I needed a walk. While Deena did the village, I went along the King’s Channel towards Glenville…it’s a walk I had hoped to do many times and also wanted to research for another project, and despite the rain, it did not disappoint.

Started out at the ferry crossing to Little Island – rumour had it that Bruce Springsteen was about…pity I missed him, could have treated him to a walk…might have made a donation to the RNLI

May15th – Another day with two separate walks – I was up early as usual, and as it was fine, but threatening, I decided to head away at 6am and completed a loop of the local stand via Coolbunnia. Just me and the seabirds this morning, didn’t even meet a car on the High Rd.

A beautiful day brought me to Kilkenny on May 16th for an appointment in the local studies dept in the library. But with an hour to spare I had a picnic lunch along the Nore and a delightful walk too.

May 17th and Deena was to the fore today with two walks including an evening stroll along Woodstown with our daughter Hannah – meanwhile I was watching a Woodstown native Jack O’Donoghue with his Munster rugby comrades achieve a bonus point win, and home draw in the URC against Edinburgh…How did they even win that game!

As I said it’s all about raising those necessary funds to keep the vital service that is our local RNLI. So if you would like to make a contribution you can do so by visiting our donation page here. You might also prefer to give directly to the team page – or some of the other team members. The page for the Team Dunmore East is here. We also hope to run a few local walks that you might like to come along to support over the month too. Keep an eye on our social media pages.

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Slí Sails – The Suir as a Social Entity

On Tuesday 30th April 2024 I was invited to speak at a gathering aboard the Cailin Deise river cruiser. My brief was to give a sense of the social aspect of the River Suir, and the people who resided upon it. Much of what others had to present was on the environmental degradation of the river, tributaries and coastline and initially, I feared my words may have been out of place. But here’s what I delivered.

The speakers and organisers on the day L-R Fran Igoe Local Authorities Water Programme, Maria Marra, Irish Ocean Literacy, Yours Truly, Jen Harriss CEO of Slí Waterford, Sarah of Slí and a long term supporter of the page, Eoin Nevins of the wonderful Friends of the St Johns River. Eoin gave a powerful summary on the work the lads have done for years, work I very much admire. Photo courtesy of Slí Waterford

Slí Sails address

Thanks for the invitation today. My name is Andrew Doherty and I am the project leader of Tides and Tales Maritime Community Project. Our mission statement is: To foster a deeper understanding, appreciation and value of the culture and economic opportunities of the Three Sisters River community through researching and promoting the stories of its people, places, trades and boats.

For centuries these rivers were seen as a connection, a conduit, a method of travel, commerce, trade, fishing and leisure populated by numerous people, trades and river craft. The rivers were not just the motorways of today, these were a superhighway that encompassed our modern infrastructure of plane, train and automobile.

Those times have been largely forgotten, or diminished.  But yet, how did the Vikings travel to Waterford, let alone Kings and pretenders? The choice of siting the new town beside the river and adjacent to what we now know as the St John’s Pill was strategically important in terms firstly of security and then trade.  The Three Sister rivers allowed trade to flow with the regularity of the tides.  Cuan ne Greinne,  the Harbour of the Sun was a strategic location to England, Wales and the continent and crucially a vital harbour of refuge in an era of sail.

In modern times, rivers such as the Barrow or Suir are generally perceived as boundaries, defining county lines or geographic jurisdictions. And there is a broader perspective too. 

The seas around our island nation have been largely ignored.  There’s a strong perception that these were handed away by the state in a favourable deal for the farming sector on joining the European Economic Community in 1973. (as a former fisherman in Cheekpoint I may have a personal position on this)  As a nation we had to scramble to create a state shipping line in WWII, that we might feed ourselves, only to let it collapse in the 1980s.  We have been embarrassed numerous times by our inability to protect our coast and seas.  There is seemingly no strategy or policy to embrace the resource, except for handing it over to private investors.

I don’t know the exact reason for this disregard to our waterways, lakes, rivers and seas. But I wonder is there something of the field ditch involved. The traditional boundary created from unwanted field stone that defined our patch of ground. The ditch was to keep people or animals in or out. The weeds were flung there, the slops from the kitchen, the broken delph, old cans and jars, the waste from the dry toilet. Perhaps the same mentality impacts our notion of our watery boundaries; out of sight, out of mind and of little consequence except as a means of waste disposal.

Waterford has a deep and proud history, but it tends to be told without a maritime perspective. Yet, rivers such as the Suir have an incredible story to tell.  We have an enviable reservoir of social history and folklore, hinted at by placenames, navigation lights, wrecks, pills, embankments, weirs, boats and old quays.

Although to some it may seem like a best-forgotten era of hard work, strife and incredible struggle, to others the river represents a remarkable rich history and heritage, an era to borrow a very apt phrase of “iron men and wooden boats”, of fishermen, sailors, cockle pickers, net makers, lighters and lightermen, of hobblers, pilots, watchmen, jarveys, porters and custom officials.

The work of our project seeks to connect the present society with the past so that we may value and appreciate what these people achieved.  But it is also about those that still continue these proud traditions, fishermen, boatmen and river families that know the stories of the past and practice the skills.  It only takes a generation to lose this heritage.  Although we do not underestimate the challenge of our project, we do believe with support and understanding, real progress to sustain these river communities is possible. 

I invite you if you have not already done so, to explore this past on Tides and Tales, and join our virtual community of river folk, a community of the tides. A community that seeks not to place administrative boundaries on a vital resource that can never be contained, but to unite and celebrate it as a collective good.

©Andrew Doherty 2024

Clodagh Walsh from the Ours to Protect series which is broadcast on WLR and podcast was aboard and did a short report on what was said. And yes I do sound nervous…I hate a microphone and paper, something I will have to work on.

Although it was a lovely opportunity to meet with new people, and reconnect with some others, I came away feeling dejected. I went to sleep that night remembering a letter I wrote to the then Minister for the Marine, Brendan Daly TD. I drafted and redrafted it with a biro, working hard to try make my thoughts clear. I finally picked up the courage to finish it off on foolscape paper, and posted it off. It never occurred to me to keep a copy. I don’t remember it even getting a response.

But in it, I pleaded with the minister to stop castigating salmon driftnet fishermen as the sole reason for the demise of salmon and the pressure on the stocks. It was probably childish in the extreme, but I pointed out pollution, evergreen tree plantations, and habitat destruction in the areas where salmon spawned. Why I asked did no one write in the national newspapers about these issues, or give some balance on the telly or radio when the matter of salmon stocks were discussed. Why was the salmon fisherman the one they all pointed at.

We now know however there were other pressures too such as salmon farm cages, global warming, deep sea trawling on migration routes amongst so much else. But a number of the inputs from the environmentalists present on the day, reinforced what I had stated to the Minister all those years ago. I wrote it in the late 1980s when I believed I would stay a fisherman in Cheekpoint for life, participating in a fishery that would help sustain me and my community.

Is it any wonder I would be sad, to think that almost 40 years later, people are still grappling to come to terms with the degradation of our rivers, and the salmon is still under pressure. And the Cheekpoint fishermen, like their counterparts up and down the river, after hundreds of years, are practically no more.

But as I write on reflection at least these people that I was with that day are trying. It’s easy to point the finger and say they are to blame, but the reality is more complex, its an uphill battle against powerful interests, none of which seem to have the rivers in their thoughts. And although I come at it with a different approach, perhaps I need to find a way to try to support them in what they are doing and hopefully get some support in return. It’s hard to trust, when your experience is to be dismissed. But I came across a quote about it recently that I have found to be true by Ralph Waldo Emerson “Our distrust is very expensive.” There are too many cynics in this world already!

Coincidentally, John O’Connor contacted me the same week to ask for an image to go with a piece he wanted to write about the money now being spent to address water pollution. The article appeared in the following weeks paper. John had been one of the few in journalism that had consistently written on the local small scale fishermens behalf when the government and its arms of agencies wanted to run through the salmon driftnet closures. I still have his articles in a folder from that time.

Mile a day for the month of May – Mayday Mile 2024

May marks our annual fundraiser for the local RNLI station that we depend on for so much- Dunmore East RNLI.

This is our 4th year to participate and this time round we plan to do at least a mile a day for the month of May. My wife Deena and I will travel about the locality and try build up the miles as we go.

2023 saw my brother Robert and I row from Carrick to Cheekpoint, seen here at the village quay with Deena, myself, our mam Mary, Robert and his wife Ciara and our sister Kate.

It is a bit different to our previous efforts which saw a one-day or two-day event to bring in some funds but we will, of course, keep the focus on our maritime shoreline and heritage. We look forward to giving regular updates on not just our progress but on places to see, and history to share, Fingers crossed that some of our friends and fellow maritime enthusiasts join us as we go. We may even have a guest blog or two.

A regular contributor to our mayday mile efforts – guest blogger David Carroll seen here addressing the huge crowd that was present for the naming ceremony of the William and Agnes Wray in Dunmore East in 2022
Michael Farrell on left and myself with Brendan Dunne on the new lifeboat. Both men have been long term supporters of the Tides and Tales blog and Brendan and some of the crew such as Neville have gone out of their way to support me down the years, so it is great to be able to do something tangible to help the station out every year.

It’s all about raising those necessary funds to keep the vital service that is our local RNLI. So if you would like to make a contribution you can do so, by visiting our donation page here, and look out for our weekly updates.

Two members of the Tides and Tales team of long standing, Damien McLellan and Breda Murphy disembarking the lifeboat after a personal tour by Roy Abrahamson in 2022 following a fundraiser we had completed that saw us raise €500 from the Camino Society of Ireland.

Ann – The Lady Smuggler of New Ross

In November 1842 the New Ross barque Ann, arrived at Passage East.  An obligatory inspection by customs officials passed without difficulty and the ship anchored at Cheekpoint to await pilotage to her home port.  However, once in New Ross another customs inspection voiced concern, the ship would be impounded, crew prosecuted and the name of the ships owner, Dr Howlett and his good lady wife impugned.  The case would become a cause celebre in the town, creating fractious debate and several days in court.  It would take more than a year before the matter was finally concluded in the eyes of the law, perhaps a lot longer in the minds of the townspeople of the inland port.    

On the 11th of November 1842, the large 3-masted barque Ann (sometimes spelt Anne in newspapers) on her homeward voyage from Quebec, laden with timber arrived at Passage East.  Registered with Lloyds, the ship had been built in Quebec in 1829, 313 tons and classed as AE1 – a fine ship, well found.

The crew of the Ann had been away from their native shore over 3 months, having sailed in late summer for Quebec where they arrived on September 15th with 26 emigrants.  This was their second journey of the year, she had arrived in May, with 178 emigrants – described as farmers, labourers & mechanics heading to West Canada. Two other vessels had arrived to Quebec from New Ross that month. A sister ship John Bell with 308 emigrants, and a rival, the Tottenham with 121.

At Passage East, she was boarded by George Parker, a customs official.  As was his duty, Parker requested a bill of return listing the goods the captain had on board, including the ship’s stores. The return contained the following articles:—15 gallons of rum, 4 gallons of brandy, 3 dozen of wine, 8 lbs of tea, 80 pounds of sugar, 42 pounds of tobacco, 2 boxes of cigars, and 1 box of raisins.

Satisfied, the customs man withdrew, leaving two colleagues Daniel Clarke and Alexander Moore to stay aboard the ship.  These men were known as Tide Waiters – and they stayed with the ship until the ship arrived in port maintaining a watch on the cargo and crew. The next morning the ship went ahead to Cheekpoint, dropping anchor across at Great Island at the mouth of the Ross River – River Barrow.  There pilot Doyle joined the vessel to guide her up the river.  

The mouth of the “Ross River” the R Barrow off Cheekpoint. Ships awaited a pilot here and favourable tides. The Barrow Railway Bridge would add another layer of challenge when constructed in 1906. Seen is the PS Ida at the main quay, which was often employed in towing sailing vessels along the rivers. AH Poole Photo NLI

Later that night there was a bit of action aboard.  Two boats belonging to the Ann were over the side.  The master, Captain John Black was rowed away in one, apparently to speak to the owners of the vessel and to arrange a tow by steamboat into the port. 

Daniel Clarke later deposed in court that he was one of two tide waiters aboard when the vessel anchored at Cheekpoint.  Either he or his colleague Moore was on deck all through the night.  He was aware of the captain going ashore, and he also heard that the second boat had slipped away as the mate and the captain had words about it being missing on his return.  Clarke had not seen or heard anything untoward himself.  It was generally presumed that the men had gone to Cheekpoint to wash the salt out of their throats after more than a month at sea.

When the Ann eventually settled against the quay at New Ross, Mr. Abbott the customs collector and a colleague went on board to make a ‘rummage search’, and the result was that they found 7 packages of tea over and above the 18lb allowed in the ship’s stores.  They stated that the tea was discovered concealed under some clothing. On questioning the captain, he explained that these were intended as part of the ship’s stores, an extra consignment, that would have been used had they run into bad weather. 

An image of New Ross quays in the mid 19th Century. The Customs men were based at one time in the building in the centre of the photo which was then the Globe Hotel. Image and information courtesy of Myles Courtney. New Ross Steet Focus
Custom House marked on this old map of the town – courtesy of Myles Courtney

The customs men were not satisfied however and a follow-up search yielded another 4 packages of tea, a package of snuff, and about 1½ lb of tobacco in a drawer of the cabin table. Some of the packages of tea were addressed to Mrs Howlett, wife of the principal owner of the ship.

Because it was then after 9 pm the customs house was closed, so the goods were locked into the captain’s cabin, Mr Abbott, keeping the key.  Customs officers maintained a watch on the vessel, but two days later it was found that two of the tea packages were missing. 

The following day a further search of the hold yielded a gap in the timber cargo in which they discovered some tobacco leaves and a strong smell of the product.  The customs officers at this point decided to put the vessel under seizure.

It was a major embarrassment for the Howlett firm.  Earlier that year, it seems the company had been involved in another incident which led to the ship’s master William Joyce, being temporarily relieved of duty.  Captain John Black was probably expected to run a tighter ship.  The fact that Mrs Howlett’s name was on some of the tea packages also made the newspapers – this even though Black had explained that the tea was just a gift for the lady.  Howletts could not afford the loss of the vessel and offered to provide financial security against their impounded ship – allowing them to trade.  This was refused. 

But it was also a major embarrassment for the customs officials.  If their suspicions were true, as much as ten bales of tobacco, having about 25 lbs in each, had been removed from the vessel while their officers were supposed to be on watch.  They could not accept that the incident happened in port, so the best theory was that the crew had managed to breach the ship’s hold and remove the materials at Cheekpoint.

Sailing ships at anchor off Cheekpoint towards the end of the 19th Century. Photo from AH Poole NLI

It would be April before the matter came to court in New Ross. In that time the crown had built a case against two crewmen, accusing them of smuggling the tobacco ashore at either Cheekpoint or Great Island in November 1842.  The main witness was a fellow crewman who claimed that while two men took the ship’s jolly boat, another managed to breach the hold, open the bow port and hand down the packages.  The case was held in New Ross before local magistrates Charles Tottenham and John Ussher.

It was found that John Brawders (sometimes reported as Brothers) – landed 275lb of tobacco at Kilmokea, Great Island and was aided by a cabin boy named Crow.  Brawders was found guilty and sentenced to 6 months jail.  Crow was acquitted as he was a minor.

Locally however, there was strong opinion in favour of Howlett’s and there was a feeling that the smuggling case was an act against nationalists and an attempt to do down the port of New Ross by the crown.  Howlett was stated as supporting the nationalist cause and paid above £10,000 in revenue per annum to the crown from his business, 1/3 of the then value of trade in the port. [As long term blog subscribers will know, this era saw heightened tensions with the Reapeal movement with New Ross and Duncannon being scenes of intense flashpoints, in particular around the very lucrative and popular river bourn paddle steamer trade which saw nationalist rivals brought onto both routes.]

Howlett had offered to provide financial security against his impounded ship in November which was refused until April when the very same surety was accepted. This had created a significant financial loss for the firm. 

In June a case was taken by the Howletts seeking the release of John Brawders, then serving his sentence in Wexford gaol. The case was taken arguing that the offence he was convicted of was legally questionable.  He was discharged, pending a further hearing into the matter.

It would be December 1843 before the matter came to a head, argued before the Court of Exchequer.  From the outset it was stated that there were some questionable legal interpretations taken by the crown in the prosecution of the case, and that these would be challanged.  There were also some curious issues with the evidence and some of the key witnesses on behalf of the crown. 

Effectively, the only hard evidence of the case was the quantities of tea and tobacco found on board the ship in New Ross.  It was argued that these quantities were legally allowable because of the circumstances involved and should never have been at issue. It was only the Customs officials interpretation of the law that created a problem.

Furthermore, it was shown that the main witness to the alleged event at Cheekpoint, Michael Dowling, was since the matter, in the indirect employ of the Customs – receiving a stipend of 25s per week. There was, in fact, no tangible evidence of tobacco smuggling, save a gap in the cargo and a claim of tobacco leaves being found therein.

Howletts store in John’s St. New Ross – courtesy of Myles Courtney

Heard over two days,  the Wexford Independent published a transcript of the hearing spread over five columns in two pages and editorialised on the result. 

In summing up the case, the judge raised several points of maritime law.  He expressed concern about the crown’s interpretation of the same.   A major point of contention was the decision to seize the Ann, and the harm this caused to the business interests of the Howlett family and the port of New Ross. He went on to state in closing that:

“It appears to me that the crown has been misled by various stories, and the evidence which the Solicitor General gave you to understand that witnesses would be produced on this point, which they have not only not supported but contradicted.  If you disbelieve Dowlings evidence, of course there remains nothing but a blind suspicion relative to the affair at Passage [I think he meant Cheekpoint here].  I cannot avoid saying, as far as the evidence goes, that the keeping away of witnesses, appears to be on the part of the crown, and not at all on the part of the defendants…”

Wexford Independent – Saturday 16 December 1843; page 2

With such a damning summing up, perhaps it is no surprise that the jury deliberated only 15 minutes before delivering their verdict for the defendants, Howlett and partners. The Wexford Independent did not mince words in their editorial.  –

“This day we publish a report taken specially for this paper, of trial in which the Queen was the ostensible Plaintiff—but virtually the Tories of Ross—and the eminent Firm of Messrs, Howlett & Co. Defendants …It will be seen that the latter were triumphantly victorious; but how will compensation be made them for the annoyance and petty persecutions to which they have been subjected the miserable faction behind the scene who were the real instigators of the prosecution? We are in possession of facts connected with this case, that will bring the blush of shame on certain parties whose position in society should teach them act a different part; and which shall be laid before the public in due season. In the meantime, every good and unbiased mind in the United Kingdom will rejoice with us on the issue which is this day recorded. The inhabitants of Ross, the intelligence reaching that town, illuminated their houses; and every vessel in port, (with exception of the Tottenham) hoisted their colors”.

Wexford Independent – Saturday 16 December 1843; page 2

The Ann was registered with Lloyds up to 1844 but it 1845 she seems to have been replaced on the Quebec run by the Abeona, built in Nova Scotia in 1842. A newer vessel for a very busy and regular route. Her master was listed as Black. But I can’t say this was John. I can’t find any ship named in 1843 that replaced the Ann during the period. However, perhaps one was leased by the firm. The number of ships and emigrants landed at Quebec in 1843/44 are not listed on the Ship Lists site already linked above. So I can’t say that the Tottenham profited by the loss of the Ann for those few months. However, as Brian Cleare and Jack O’Leary mention in their book on Sailing Ships of Wexford the Tottenham had her own issues too!

Just for the record, the ships listed as operating from New Ross in Lloyds Register in 1843 apart from the Ann were – Enterprise, schooner, Captain Williams, owner A Lynn, route – coasting trade; Margaret, ship, Captain Joyce, owner Howlett, route – London East India trade, John Bell, Schooner, Captain W Black, owner Howlett, route Waterford Quebec, Emma, schooner, Captain Thomas, owner Hartrick, route Liverpool to Constantinople, Rose Macroom, brig, Captain E Evans, owner Artrick (Hartrick?) , route Waterford to Newfoundland, Tottenham, barque, Captain J Brown, route – Waterford Quebec

For many more details on the ships mentioned – see Sailing Ships of Wexford by Brian and Jack. See for example Ann p303, John Bell p325, Tottenham p281. The lads are speaking at Whites Hotel in Wexford on Wednesday 1st May 2024 at 8pm for the Wexford Historical Society. Topic is the Wexford Grain Race – Sailing to Galatz and back. Anyone who has read this wonderful book will know the extremes faced by the crews in getting to that inland port on the Danube.

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This months blog is a composite of numerous news articles from the 1842-43 era and the only one that I can in anyway reference is done so above. It is also informed by previous blogs, particularly on the rival services on the paddle steamer routes that I have researched and written some articles on previously. There’s a book in these incidents alone. Kathleen Moore Walsh has covered some of this activism in her own work on the Glenmore history blog.

St Itas Walk Faithlegg

Distance 2km

Difficulty:  This is an easy going looped walk on grass and public roadway (predominantly bitumen and level but broken ground)

Start: Commencing from Faithlegg Church car park notice board

Welcome to Faithlegg. Nicholas Mahon Power, then landlord of the area, built the current church in 1824.  In 1873 the Spire and Belfry were added.  When repairs were carried out in recent years the following inscription was found on the Bell:  “The gift of Nicholas Power ESQ.  At whose expense the tower was built.  J Murphy Founder Dublin.  Michael Broderick Builder Portlaw. Was built Aug 1872”

The Graveyard has won several awards over the years and is lovingly cared for by a voluntary committee.  It’s so well known that one local wag quipped “people are dying to visit!”

Well, a visit is worthwhile as there are several unique gravestones and wonderful designs.  There are 2 bullaun stones within and has the family plots of the Val Doonican family and Thomas Francis Meagher.  It also contains the remains of a man named Dinn who sailed round the world with Captain Cooke.  The oldest headstone is for a lady named Fortune nee Foure who has the distinction of two dates of death 1745/6 reflecting the two calendars in use at the time; church and civic.   

Another feature is the ruined 13th Century Church.   The site contains ruins of two separate churches.  The older part is located furthest from the road.  This measures 6.8m by 5.2m and has been referred to as the Chancel or Sanctuary.  The entrance to this is via a Romanesque style arch which dates it earlier than the main church and belfry beside it.  This measures 13m by 6.5m and is in the Venetian Gothic style. Feel free to walk inside and explore.

As you exit the main entrance to the church turn right and on your left come to St Its Well.  St Ita, who founded a monastery in Limerick was actually born in Waterford, gave her name to this well as a mark for the Deise tribe, signifing the extent of their domain.  Many years back a pattern was held here on Jan 15th.  There was reputed to be a rock beside the well which bore the imprint of the baby Jesus’ foot.

If you walk down the chapel road towards Cheekpoint you will come to a T junction, where you turn left and proceed down into the glen. At the bottom of the road you meet another t junction, so turn left.

On your right is an area known in the past as Mount Roberts.  It contained the country mansion of the famous Waterford architect John Roberts, designer of such buildings as the Bishops Palace and uniquely, both the catholic and protestant cathedrals in the city.

As you continue along Waterford Port is visable through the trees on the right. The next landmark is Park Rangers Football club.  If you keep left at the gates you will enter the old drive to Faithlegg House. The remains of a wrought iron fence can still be partially seen between the trees…this was once know as Lady Olivia’s walk.

Faithlegg House was built in 1783 for Cornelius Bolton, then landlord of the area. A progressive businessman he created several enterprises in the area but profits were slow to emerge and by 1818 he was forced to put Faithlegg House and lands up for sale to repay his debts.  Nicholas Mahon Power purchased the house and land in 1819, and at the time was reputed to be the richest commoner in the land.  The Power family sold Faithlegg House to the De La Salle Brothers in 1936 and they in turn sold it on to developers in 1985.  Eventually, the house was refurbished as a hotel and the lands were converted into a golf course.   Nice place for refreshment at this stage should you require it.

Brendan Grogan image of the estate circa 1969
Local hurlers who played on the estate

If you continue passed the House, you will be walking up the driveway through part of the old demesne of the House where cattle roamed and where the Christian Brothers played hurling and Gaelic football.  The grounds were also used for the annual Faithlegg sports day. It’s now part of the golf club.

The hills to your left are the Deerpark and Minaun, but as you walk up you will notice the main gates to the old estate.  The Stags head with the cross in its centre is a reference to St Hubert, patron saint of hunters, (and also mathematicians, opticians and metalworkers).  One of the four “Holy Marshals” he was considered to protect animals, particularly dogs (the Power family were keen huntsmen).  Hubert an avid hunter went out one Good Friday morning into the Ardennes in search of a stag. As he was pursuing his quarry the animal turned with apparently a crucifix standing between its antlers, while he heard a voice saying: “Hubert, unless thou turnest to the Lord, and leadest a holy life, thou shalt quickly go down into hell”.  He converted on the spot!

Brendan Grogan image of the gates circa 1969

Turn left at the gates and you are now back at your start.  We hope you enjoyed the walk.  Thanks for coming along.  If you want to know any more info about anything we said, just search the blog using a keyword. 

Andrew Doherty; Tides and Tales Maritime Community Project. 2024