Limekilns in the Cheekpoint & Faithlegg area

This week marks my fourth year of a weekly Friday blog.  To celebrate, I decided to republish my first blog.  It was my first try at promoting local heritage and I suppose it also gives a sense of my curiosity and determination to discover more about the features that surrounded me growing up, or the stories that I was told.  I made one amendment suggested by my pal Blob the scientist in the comments and added in links to future kiln stories for ease of reference.  Otherwise this is as it was first published May 16th 2014. As only 80 people have read it, its probably not an inconvenience to the majority of my present readers, but I do beg the indulgence of my early adopters 🙂As a child I was intrigued by the building called the Limekilns in Cheekpoint.  When I asked my father what it was for his answer reminds me of what I tell my daughter when she asks what the internet is…He said it was for making lime, as I might say its a means of getting information.

Double Lime Kiln at the Green, Cheekpoint
When as an adult, fishing the river, I noticed others up the Ross River as we sometimes called the Barrow my curiosity was piqued again and at some stage, pre Internet days, I managed to get some written information that began to lift the curtain from my eyes. We do know, for example, that when Arthur Young did his Tour in Ireland and book of the same name, he stopped on two occasions with the resident landlords of the area, the Boltons. He recorded much of their entrepreneurial endeavours amongst which were Limekilns at Cheekpoint, Faithlegg and Ballycanavan (Jack Meades). His visit was 1796 and his second in 1798. The book is available on googlebooks for free here.
An English scene depicting a sailing boat carrying lime stones to be unloaded at a coastal kiln
accessed from
Young tells us that the “progressive” Boltons had set the Kilns up to add lime to the fields in order to fertilise and enhance the crops and their yield.  He also mentions that they sometimes dried salt on the top of the kilns (presumably for use in preserving).  I also learned from other sources that many landlords actually encouraged their tenants to spread lime by offering free seed or other perks, suggesting that the tenants were possibly sceptical about the process?
Kilns were sited close to water as the lime stone, which was burned, was generally ferried by water.  In the Suir and Barrow, the boats used were termed Lighters – so named because they were used to lighten the load of sailing ships who could be held back from port by sandbars etc.  These had a three man crew one held the tiller and two pushed the flat bottomed craft along using poles.  They drove them into the water and pushed from the bow to the stern to get the boat along.   The crew also loaded and unloaded the craft which was no mean feat.  I read recently that there were 150 Lighters working the Suir alone between Waterford and Carrick into the late 19th Century.
However it was at the stage that I cam across Shire Publications and ordered my copy of Limekilns and Limeburning by Richard Williams that I finally had the completed answers to the process of the Limekiln.
Lime has been around since about 6000 BCE and was used by the Mesopotamians.  The Greeks later used it in footpaths but it was the Romans who seem to have taken it to the building and agriculture level.  Some examples have been found from the Roman period in the UK.  There is evidence that the early Christian period used lime to wash houses and the Normans certainly burned lime to assist in their castle, church and bridge building. These kilns tended to be temporary builds and were left to deteriorate after the initial need for lime in building had passed.
Anyone wondering how a lighter would access the kilns at Jack Meades
would get a good sense when considering the height of this recent high tide

It was the demand for food that spiked with the Industrial revolution that made lime burning so prevalent in the mid to late 18th Century.  This combined with the Napoleonic wars which also drove demand and enhanced knowledge in agricultural sciences made lime burning a regular feature of rural areas which necessitated the building of more permanent Kilns. End Part 1

I went on to write a follow up piece the following week on the workings of local kilns
And subsequently a piece on the kilns to be found on the Waterford side of the harbour as far as Dunmore
My Facebook and Twitter pages are more contemporary and reflect not just heritage 
and history but the daily happenings in our beautiful harbour:
F  T

It all turns on affection

My grandmother had a phrase “the longer you live in a place,
the longer you live”.  I found it a
curious phrase, one that tended to be used on the death of a friend or
neighbour I remember.  Like many of my
grandmothers utterances,  I never stopped
the conversation or brought it back to explore the particular phrase.  Regret for sure.

My Grandmother lived in a home where at least two
generations had lived previously.  Her
mothers father, Bill Malone had moved to the area during the famine that swept
Ireland in 1847.  He moved with what he
owned using a small Prong (local boat)as transport.  Rowing from a small area up the river Barrow
called (from memory) Clearystown.  Did he
marry in to an existing family?  I never heard
my Gran talk on it, I certainly never thought to ask.  If he had, then obviously our homestead is a
lot older than I imagined.

 My Gran, apart from
her time living in homes as a maid spent her whole life in and around this acre
of land in Cheekpoint beside the Suir.

She often lamented those that had to move away, those who
had emigrated.  I remember her sadness,
her thoughts far away, as she recalled the Great Western carrying the body of
her dead brother home from England following a fall from scaffold on a building
site in Brighton.  He laid in a hospital
bed for a few weeks, enough for her father and brother to get across and be
with him as he died.  Years later I saw a
photo of the ship passing up the harbour within view of the house, carrying his
body back to be buried. 

The photo was returned in an album from American
cousins.  No doubt it was part of a
package that was sent across, I imagine the letter long faded, that communicated
the tragedy of Michael Moran’s death to his brother and extended family.

The American connection was also real and tangible.  As kids we used to get the packages, funny
smelling clothes, stange designs and patterns that we never saw the like of, and bunches of
school supplies.  At some point, these cousins
arrived.  Strangely dressed, strangely
accented.  They drove a car, and as a
child I believed they drove from Long Island New York. 

Three brothers resided there belonging to my gran.  Only one would ever return to her, to die
within a few short years, the other two died in America.  All dying, in her opinion, before their time.

I often wondered was it from this she took her saying.  This cycle of emigration, hard work and early
death.  In her own way was she reflecting on an economic system that crushed the very life out of people.  If she was, it was an analysis that certainly never extended to the Catholic Church and it’s role in our life.

I was reminded of her phrase as I watched Wendell
Berry deliver the 41st Jefferson Lecture in the Humanities, entitled “It All
Turns on Affection,” from the Concert Hall of The John F. Kennedy Center for
the Performing Arts on April 23rd, this year.

 Wendell championed the position of small farmers and their
unique and intrinsic value to a small community.  He spoke of his own family, back to his
grandfather in the 1890’s and how he was mistreated by big business, and almost
reduced to penury.  He spoke of how his
family has persisted however, how they had roots, how they belonged, identified
with and gave value to a small piece of land and a small rural community that
afforded them a meagre income. 

I thought of my gran as he spoke of abuse by the rich tobacco
tycoon James B Duke how he had through political and economic control, essentially
decided what he would pay to farmers, not what their crops were worth.  I remembered my grandmother’s story of the
day she had sold a fish on her way to market. 
How the fish monger heard and warned that if she ever did likewise, he
would blacken her name and not only would he not buy her families fish, but
neither would anyone else.

But I thought of her too in the love and genuine affection
that both he has and she had for the place they were born.  For the place of family.  For the place of neighbours.  For the place of friends. 

I loved Wendell’s turn of phrase.  Obviously a well educated man.  But for all my Grans lack of an education, I
loved hers more.  The longer you live in
a place, the longer you live.

principals of a sustainable rural community that I think are worth considering

From Wendell Berry
[The concept of “Mendo Island” is not to be isolationist or provincial, but rather to focus our attention and efforts locally, transitioning to more community-sufficiency, and in that process we also help those in far away places who are being devastated by the so-called “global economy” and “green revolution”. -DS]
A community economy is not an economy in which well-placed persons can make a ‘killing’. It is an economy whose aim is generosity and a well-distributed and safeguarded abundance.
Wendell Berry is a strong defender of family, rural communities, and traditional family farms. These underlying principles could be described as ‘the preservation of ecological diversity and integrity, and the renewal, on sound cultural and ecological principles, of local economies and local communities:
1. Always ask of any proposed change or innovation: What will this do to our community? How will this affect our common wealth.
2. Always include local nature – the land, the water, the air, the native creatures – within the membership of the community.
3. Always ask how local needs might be supplied from local sources, including the mutual help of neighbors.
4. Always supply local needs first (and only then think of exporting products – first to nearby cities, then to others).
5. Understand the ultimate unsoundness of the industrial doctrine of ‘labor saving’ if that implies poor work, unemployment, or any kind of pollution or contamination.
6. Develop properly scaled value-adding industries for local products to ensure that the community does not become merely a colony of national or global economy.
7. Develop small-scale industries and businesses to support the local farm and/or forest economy.
8. Strive to supply as much of the community’s own energy as possible.
9. Strive to increase earnings (in whatever form) within the community for as long as possible before they are paid out.
10. Make sure that money paid into the local economy circulates within the community and decrease expenditures outside the community.
11. Make the community able to invest in itself by maintaining its properties, keeping itself clean (without dirtying some other place), caring for its old people, and teaching its children.
12. See that the old and young take care of one another. The young must learn from the old, not necessarily, and not always in school. There must be no institutionalized childcare and no homes for the aged. The community knows and remembers itself by the association of old and young.
13. Account for costs now conventionally hidden or externalized. Whenever possible, these must be debited against monetary income.
14. Look into the possible uses of local currency, community-funded loan programs, systems of barter, and the like.
15. Always be aware of the economic value of neighborly acts. In our time, the costs of living are greatly increased by the loss of neighborhood, which leaves people to face their calamities alone.
16. A rural community should always be acquainted and interconnected with community-minded people in nearby towns and cities.
17. A sustainable rural economy will depend on urban consumers loyal to local products. Therefore, we are talking about an economy that will always be more cooperative than competitive.

road testing my template

Some responses to the key areas for the community plan

Rather than design a survey, I have used the mind mapping
format to generate ideas for myself.  I
am listing them here, and also some further notes on the survey idea.  Ray will also send on a sustainability
template from previous word re Ireland-Newfoundland exchanges.

Need to revisit older community consultation processes –
Weisbord etc

As I responded to prompts found that some flowed more easily into catagories so will need to change original key area.  Also whn looking at the responses found that some could more easily fit under the headings below.

People – retirement home, early years setting, community
café/meeting place, quality space to live in, socialise in, work in

Safety and security issues for locals

Health – prevention, access, complimentary, good food, healthy buildings, access to exercise etc
Environment – this is our future we need to protect it.  Habitats; strand, fields, woods, minaun, hedgerows,
river, park, trees

Walks; marsh, minaun, woods, hurthill, church, glazing
woods, faithlegg

Transport;  roads,
place of cars, cycle, walking, footpaths, access to city, river

Energy – wind, river, bulk buying, future proofing,
community ownership

Housing; social, second home/holiday home issue, living
quality, energy efficiency, Radon, elderly, vacancy,

Heritage – Minaun, Farming, Fishing, Sea faring, river map,
Bolton, schooling, Churchs, Ita’s well, Field /place names, (see also fishery
Employment; dormant village – services thereof, social
services elder care etc, resturants, pubs, cafes, shop, post office, heritage,
fishing, farming, tourism, crafts, micro enterprises, working from home,
broadband issues, walks, fishery skills

Fishery; sustainability, value add, respect, trips, angling, tourism, eels, salmon, sheelfish, cod, herring, shellfish

Need for a catch all – people may not know where to put an
idea, what goes under specific category etc

Need for a pilot re its applicability

thinking towards a community plan

Some notes on areas
for an action plan

Possibility of using an electronic survey – survey monkey to
do some initial information gathering via current email addresses of mine, the
community alliance group and via the village facebook page.

Need to explore the potential of a community enterprise structure
– >

Need to consider a decision making and governance structure.

Need to explore potential funding for many of the activities.

Possible structure

People – Early years
– youth – families – elderly:  Audit of

Services – what
we have and what’s required for the area into the future

audit of what we have, the potential, the needs, the future needs – River –Fishing-
Farming- Tourism – Heritage- Services –

Early years – Primary – Secondary – Tertiary – Adult – Community

Environmental – Transport
– Housing – The river, The land – drinking water

Energy – future issues
and how to meet these

Health – prevention
– alternatives – access

Volunteer section
– Human Resources to implement a plan

Possible methodology

Questionnaire based on key areas as above

Community meeting with stakeholders – representative
of all groups in the community


Parish Council


Thursday Club

Primary School

Credit Union


Irish Country
Woman’s Association

Book Club


Historical group


Friends of
Cheekpoint Quay

St Vincent De

A public consultation highlighting areas of
interest, ideas generated, further input/critique

Write up of main plan followed by further consultation


Should we look for outside expertise to oversee the plan,
bring some objectivity

Should we look for funding, and if so from where?

Need for a template around implementing the plan, needs to
be SMART at a minimum

Need to initiate discussion, generate ideas, bring some
critical analysis to getting peoples ideas around current/future issues ;
environmental, social, economic

Need to identify some people to support this based on their current
critical analysis and vision for a better future