The Green in the village of Cheekpoint, Co Waterford is, as its name suggests, a grassy area close to the quays and situated beside the rivers edge. If you stand in the middle of the Green you can see the boats tied up around the quays, people coming and going and large ships passing up to Waterford or New Ross or making their way back to the sea. There’s a cross as a focal point in the middle, looking out on the river, a double lime kiln to the east and the village pump close to the boreen. It’s called the Green because in the 18th Century it was used as a blanching green for a locally based textile industry.
It has a special place in my heart because I lived there for a few years in my grandparents house, having moved from the city. It was the most exciting time of my life up to that point as I could now open the door of the cottage and run freely onto the Green and play whenever I wanted. All those friends that I had previously seen only on weekends or holidays were now a feature of my life on a constant basis, and of course the summers back then were always sunny.
The games that were most popular were Rounders, Hide & Seek and Football. Crab fishing passed hours for us and of course swimming off the main quay. McAlpins Suir Inn bar and resturaunt would be jampacked with customers. We would love to see the strangers walking down the quay after their meals and we would make an extra effort in leaping off the quay into the tide, competing with each other to do the most adventerous jumps. We loved to see their reactions of surprise and admiration.
We took for granted the coming and going of the ships on the river; tankers, container ships and freighters and the pilots who went aboard. I thought that because it was a daily occurance that everyone would be used to seeing these ships. It was only later I realised how unique it was.
The fishermen used the Green as a place to repair their punts which were hauled out and turned over. These were natural hiding spaces and for hide and seek we would scurry underneath them, hold our breaths and listen to try work out where the seeker was. I remember one rainy summers day we had a picnic under one, and we thought it was the best place in the world.
We took for granted the coming and going of the fishermen and how safe we felt with them around. Ever watchful, they came and went with the tides, hunting the salmon, eel or the herring, mending their nets or repairing their boats. Only as I grew older did I realise how lucky I was to see such sights on a daily basis and how safe I felt playing around the Green.
4 Replies to “Cheekpoint’s Village Green”
For me Cheekpoint was a mysterious place, a world all of its own, quaint but with an air or feeling unique to it. The residents had that friendly outlook that is intrinsic to small closely knitted communities, they would willingly talk to a stranger and with their ever present smile get all the details of the one they had engaged in conversation. They could give Sherlock Holmes lessons! One such man was John Barry but once having learned all about you you were adopted into the familyhood of the village. Maggy and John lived on the terrace of houses that ran straight up the hill from the quay, they ran a small shop in the front room of their home. Today we would call it a ” huxter shop” but such a description would not do it justice. It was the nerve centre of the area, a place for adults to meet and talk, a place for children to spend their red hot pennies on Dandy carmels, sailors chews and blackjack and then with sticky fingers savour the tastes of their purchases. The village had two pubs, Dohertys and Buttlers, places that were puzzling to the children for they were forbidden to be in them. Such an embargo only made them more interesting, what went on in those places was the topic of much speculation, spoken in hushed tones by the mother’s of the village. I never learned about that aspect of the village life, it left me with a good in my education much to my dismay. Many of you reading my musings will have their own stories and I am sure that Andrew would be fascinated to hear them.
Hello John, I certainly would be fascinated to read them, but thank you for taking the time to share this memory with us. I’m afraid John was a widower when I was growing up and my aunt who was next door to John was then running the shop. Just like John’s the village used to gather inside and it was a hotbed of news, gossip and akin to a local courthouse at times.
Many’s the hour I spent in John & Maggys. There are so many stories that were exchanged over that counter. All the children who loved going in and out had great fun peeping ( or try ) over the high counter. All the sweets were on shelves inside and you could get any kind of a mixture you wanted. All the bread was on one side and was delivered a couple of times a week and of course everybody would be there for the fresh bread the minute the bread van arrived. Harney’s of Tramore and Summerland Bakeries from the city were just two of the ones I remember. Of course then there was John’s dog, we just loved his dogs. Believe it or not he spoke to the dog exactly as he spoke to us. Half the time you would be waiting for the dog to answer. The love he had for his dogs was incredible and I always got that same feeling when I was with him. A real character, RIP.
Sounds like it was a very happy experience Bernard, thanks for commenting