Carrick to Cheekpoint by traditional punt -Mayday Mile 2023

To support our local lifeboat station at Dunmore East my brother Robert and I rowed the river Suir this year – an estimated 25 miles. If you would like to support our efforts here’s the link to make a financial contribution. All donations go to the RNLI. When I wrote the first day’s account and published the blog update, we stood at €490. But before we set off on Sunday the donations were flowing in and as this update goes to print we have just over €800 online. We have postal and hand-delivered envelopes still arriving to add to our bucket collection, and Brian Power in the Cheekpoint Stores asked us to leave the sponsorship card in the shop until later this week, so we will update here once we have the full figure. – Update as of 17/5/2023 Just updated the online with bucket collection which incl postal donations and sales of strawberry plants by Robert. This came to €336. Update 18/5/2023. We just updated the site with the generous sponsorship from Powers Shop Cheekpoint – the figure raised there was €320. Thank you one and all. The figure now stands at €1,476. Update of June 2nd 2023. We reached the grand total of €1,571. While team Dunmore made the combined total €5,124. What a great achievement by the whole team. Many thanks to all who sponsored the events…Here’s to next year.

It’s terrible to be getting old. For the past two years, we completed the Mayday Mile by walking from Cheekpoint to Dunmore by cliff and shore. But as we both now have problems with arthritis, this year we thought a boat trip might be easier – on our joints I mean.

Now rowing a boat provides a two-fold challenge. As a person, It takes a certain amount of skill, knowledge, and resilience. But more importantly, you are also at the mercy of the river and the weather. The notion of this appeals to me. People talk about respecting the water – which to some simply means wearing a life jacket. But the river is a living entity, it breathes life, it changes in an instant and its tides and currents ebb and flow on their agenda – an agenda set down by natural rhythms, cosmic forces, and weather. There are also rocks, mud banks, sand bars, and man-made impediments. With motor power you can bend the river to your will…when you row, you must show it the utmost respect and attention in order to reach your destination. So we are channeling the spirits of all the past generations of river folk, fishermen, and lightermen who worked these waters and had a deep connection with it.

What follows is a photo diary of the journey. Day one was a glorious sunny day, very warm, but we battled a strong breeze that was against us until we got to Mount Congreve. Day two was cooler, with a northerly breeze, that helped us no end.

Carrick from the Old Bridge looking downriver, this was taken on Friday after we took the punt up by road. We launched from Carrick Beg and I enjoyed a row around especially admiring the “May Blobs” as one of my favourite authors and Carrick Beg native describes them in his book Full Tide – the great Michael Coady
L-R Conor, Brian, Robert and Maurice. Maurice has been a great help to me for several years now, always great advice, a source of photos and connections. he even contributed a guest blog on William O’Callaghan, the last barge operator at Carrick
Maurice insisted I get my head in…I try to avoid that as much as possible for obvious reasons 🙂
Setting out with a cheer from our brother Chris, his wife Sabrina and children Carragh and Cathal
Ormond Castle from the River…something I’d always wanted to see since reading a guest blog of the castle including a water gate by the wonderful Carrick legend Patsy Travers Mullins.
Another long time goal…to use the navigation cut that I have written about several times. One most recent blog which quoted the evidence of J Ernest Grubb to a Royal Commission stated that the Suir Steam Navigation Co (SSNCo) was established as an incorporated company in 1836 by an act of parliament. This company was charged with “improving and maintaining the navigation of the River Suir…” and for the construction of a “ship canal” at Carrick On Suir.  It was funded from a levy of 1d per ton on seagoing craft above Grannagh.  This canal was made by cutting a channel through limestone rock on the south side of the river just below Carrick On Suir allowing “ocean-going craft drawing 10 or 11 feet of water” to reach the town 
Conor Power photo
Two great guides are Conor and Brian…each was a fountain of knowledge on many aspects of the river. I think this was Riordan’s Gap (on the left) where a police officer waited to pounce on cot men who were pooching
Another goal – Roches Quay or Tinhalla. Apparently, the croppies and other prisoners were shipped out from here for transportation to Van Diemens land. Billy explained how before the canal cut, the lighters could only reach this quay, the cargo then being carried by road to Carrick. Conor is after pulling a few favours and we hope to visit by land soon. Although not in the photo, there was a very interesting house on the property which I later found to date from circa 1700
Had a big chat with the lads about the 15th century Tower House called Tybroughney Castle, a lot of history here to be explored by me at some future date. Apparently, it’s an air B&B…how bad. Coal Quay was another point of interest that I must return to, located in the foreground
According to the lads there’s a lime kiln here in the undergrowth – but no obvious landing area for a lighter to unload…these local guides are worth their weight in gold
The wind is freshening now as we head further down, ebb tide starting to run. Photo courtesy of Brian White
Slievenamon fades into the distance as we continue down the Suir. The Mountain of women…according to Wikipedia “The origin of the mountain’s name is explained in Irish mythology…, the hero Fionn mac Cumhaill was sought after by many young women. Fionn stood atop the mountain and declared that whichever woman won a footrace to the top would be his wife. Since Fionn and Gráinne were in love, he had shown her a short-cut and she duly won the race.[1][4] The mountain was also known by the longer name Sliabh na mBan bhFionn, “mountain of the fair women”.” Its getting time for our guides to leave. Their company will be missed, but its time to bend our backs to the task.
Morris Oil terminal and the third bridge we have passed today, Fiddown.
Rocketts Castle on the Waterford shore. Its been a tough row with the wind against us. Not much time for the camera since Fiddown. It took us almost an hour since passing Fiddown to reach this spot.
Passing down Polerone Quay where we had a great cheer from the shore from Catherine and another page follower Paul Cuddihy. Certainly helped our spirits and was much appreciated.
Finally a bit of shelter close to Kilmeaden Castle on the Greenway. We finally got a break here for a bit of grub and a cuppa tea. Mount Congreve is in sight now. And the dreaded Long Wretch – just have to keep focused on Grannagh. Didn’t get a photo at Congreve as the currents were erratic – I had been warned about this but it still came as a surprise. Got a lovely cheer from the shore from Carol O’Shaughnessy amongst others and even our brother-in-law Maurice dropped down for a chat…all helps with the motivation.
The old jetty at the now closed Paper Mills…our father worked there for several years, and I remember him bringing home comics that he had lifted from a shipload of magazines that were unloaded from a chip here for recycling.
Spotted this as we passed…as I explained to a very underwhelmed brother this looks like the remains of a small quay. Sure enough, I found it later on the OSI…although there was no road marked for it so more digging as to its purpose is required on my part
The Historic maps are a national treasure. The G here is for Gracedieu…Looking forward to trying to see if I can get anything further on this feature
Grannagh Castle…a welcome sight at this hour of the evening
T F Meagher bridge
Blackwater River or Pill…I’m working on a blog about this important location…well when I say working on thinking about it and plan a trip up it this summer
The Red Iron – or the Suir Railway Bridge…we are sore all over at this point, but I am enjoying the scenery now, even if there is a distinct whiff of urban industrial decay….and some clowns are burning a tyre ashore! Robert actually asked me about the bridge – and I tried not to go off on one, but I probably told him more than was necessary.
Industrial heritage building! Gouldings fertiliser plant
Finally..our last bridge of the day, Rice Bridge Waterford and almost home for the evening. 18.46pm a heck of a long day
Our last stop of the evening, a welcome beverage and an even more welcome last 15 minutes of the Leinster V Munster match…what a result Munster!!! Looking forward to a shower and bed now. Next phase tomorrow

Day two – a cooler day with northerly winds. We said we would wait until 3pm to depart as it gave the rain a chance to clear and the ebb tide to start flowing. We had a lovely send off from the city pontoons, with family and friends. Although our minds are willing our bodies are aching – so the encouragement is all the more welcome. A darker day, so although I had more time for photos, I didn’t get as many.

And away we go, with shouts of encouragement from Catherine, Geoff, Carmel and others from the Plaza. Photo courtesy of our cousin Jim Doherty
A good ebb tide flowing, but cold in the wind. Photo Jim Doherty
The entrance to Johns Pill or Johns River, I’ve been working on a blog for some time now – but it turned into a chapter of a book after I walked along it with Cian Manning, and now I probably have enough for a new book. I’m also thinking of doing a walking tour of it over the summer – although I don’t know that there would be that much interest in it. I’m well aware that my interests attract a niche audience.
Heading out of the city now, and on the Kilkenny side, this navigation light is an area known on an old chart as Smeltinghouse Point. I’ve promised myself to find out more about this placename
The Cove – a popular pooching spot for Cheekpoint drift netters back in the day
Now coming down the Ford channel between Little Island and Co Kilkenny- as I explained to Robert, dynamited and excavated on at least 3 occasions to ease access to the old Port of Waterford. I’ve a blog drafted, but never got round to completing it. You can see the ebb tide running a fair knots strong on the port navigation bouy. On the Kilkenny shore we would have Prospect House on the left and Springfield House on the right.
Fitzgeralds Castle on the Island.
The end of the Ford channel (it is marked as Queens Channel on some charts, but we never called it that, so I won’t be changing any time soon) O Brien Cement works mark the upper end of the new port, the area here was and is known as Belview after the house of the same name. It translates as the Beautiful View. It certainly was in the old days no doubt, but progress has turned it into an industrial site now, albeit with great views
The ruins of Bellevue House. It features in my walks around Faithlegg, because of the Power family connection
Looking across the Ford now to the Guide Bank Navigation light, the Ballycanvan estate in the background, the old house now in ruins. The area is close to Jack Meades, the occupied Woodlands House is in the trees.
Belview, Port of Waterford, and the Arklow Coast is coming alongside. We have to hold on here, as we don’t want to interfere with shipping. After about five minutes we realise it is not coming up any further and we can resume our row. Never, ever, get in the way of shipping. Drilled into us as children, but I saw a chap in a pleasure boat block the channel below Cheekpoint last year as he came upriver – seemingly totally unaware that a container ship was behind him – despite the loud blasts of the ship’s horn
You might just make us out on this photo just off O’Briens. Our journey has taken us from Waterford today down the Kilkenny side of the Island and we are only two miles from home at this point. Thanks to Alison Flannery for the photo.
Tied up now, and I think that is Seamus Healy supervising from the wharf. He’s retiring today (Sunday 14th May) from the Port. He has taken some great videos in recent years of the Port activities
Glasshouse, Co Kilkenny and the lower end of the port, for now. Plans are afoot to expand down. There was an old quay here, the remains of some fine steps are still on the shoreline, beyond is the ruins of Glasshouse Mill or Kennedy’s Mill and behind that is the belching chimney of Smartply
Close to home now, the Minaun and Deerpark sweeping down to the river, the Faithlegg Marsh at its feet.
Wilson Avonmouth inbound, again we had to stay close to shore to stay out of its way.
Another feature to be avoided in the lower Suir, an old ebb weir, now just a sad collection of rotting timber poles, but once a vibrant fishing “fixed engine”. I think we called this the Mill Weir, as it is located just off the old mill race. Just below it lies Snow Hill Weir, also derelict, but a few poles still stand
Home sweet home – the meeting of the three sister rivers, the Suir we have seen, the Barrow and Nore flow under the Barrow Railway Bridge. Maybe we might explore those next year if we are alive. Photo – Alison Flannery
Thank God for that…Arrived safely at the new Cheekpoint Pontoon.
Photos courtesy of Carol McGeary
The shore team 🙂 L-R Deena, me, Mam (who had just put away the rosary beads), him, Ciara his better half and Kate our sister who had a homecoming planned but we got there too early. The closest we came to a wetting over the weekend was when she doused us in holy water before we headed to Carrick.
Thanks to Carmel Jacob for the photo above and below
with Mam, cousin Michael Murphy, and my godmother Elsie Murphy. We asked the two ladies if they wanted a row out “we did enough of that in our youth” they replied

I’m indebted to my brother Robert for helping me with this…I can’t think of anyone else who would be up to the task or have the patience to listen to me. Thanks to Conor Power of Carrick for the assistance and support, and in particular his knowledge of the snap net fishery. Brian White for the wonderful discussion about placenames, history, and nature. To Maurice Power who helped me arrange the Carrick layover and was so generous with his advice on the trip and our itinerary. My thanks to Brian and Daniel Power who allowed us to put a sponsorship card in the local shop, and Bridgid who went out of her way too to promote it. To Carol McGeary who helped with the online donation page and so much more to help to promote the fundraiser. Thanks to Johhny Codd at Waterford for looking after us on the layover. To David Carroll who provided two guest blogs to promote the row, and the Mayday Mile. To Pat Moran, with who we would not have made it at all. He helped to get the punt out of the water and towed it to Carrick for the trip. Finally to everyone who sponsored the trip, which although a personal challenge, it was really about raising money for the RNLI. We owe the lifeboats a great deal, this is our small contribution to such a worthy cause. Much obliged to you all.

Pat bringing us up to Cheekpoint.

8 Replies to “Carrick to Cheekpoint by traditional punt -Mayday Mile 2023”

  1. Well done Andrew, Robert and all who helped you achieve your goal. Great record there of your journey and the heritage stories along the way. Makes us appreciate all the more those hardy folk who in times past toiled this way to earn a living.

    1. I certainly have a heightened respect for them after yesterday Noel, and many thanks for the generous donation

  2. Great record of the journey and great contribution to the RNLI…..well done Robert and Andrew and all who helped.

  3. Hi Andrew, what an achievement for you both and much appreciation for your fundraising. Your blog post has been illuminating totally. I am fascinated by the river. Although living in Essex, (by the Thames incidentally), we are blessed to have a house in Duncannon, sure a wave across from Cheekpoint for you. Thank you for sharing your knowledge, I would love to row on the river & indeed I’m trying to convince my husband to buy a little punt. Soon, hopefully soon! The Thames is also steeped in history, & although not intentional, I have been blessed to live by both rivers. There is a reason (yet to be revealed to me) no doubt as to how this has occured but brings me great peace and happiness. We have stopped to get ice cream in Cheekpoint so our paths may cross. But well done again, & I totally enjoy your pictures. Thanks again for sharing. Regards Martina

    1. Hi Martina, thank you so much. Hopefully our paths may cross soon, perhaps even on water 🙂

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