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.