Anyone walking or driving in Cheekpoint village, or indeed anyone entering the village park via the main gates will pass a very plain and unassuming piece of limestone. Plain as it is, it is a remarkable piece of Irish maritime history, for it is one of the last remaining milestones which marked the route to southern Irelands official Mail Packet Station that commenced in Cheekpoint in the spring of 1787.
The milestone at Cheekpoint is rather unique, as the lettering is still visible when the sun is low. The side marking the village shows up better at sunset, the marking for Waterford city best at sunrise.
At one time a series of milestones marked this route, a story I have told before and if you would like the story of the Mailpacket its in chapter 3 of my book.
But if you want the sketchy outline – The Mail Packet opened at Cheekpoint on April 5th 1787 with one vessel making one trip a week. However the success of the route was underscored by the fact that by August of the same year, five vessels were running and the service was provided six days a week.
The service carried mail, obvious from the name, but also freight and passengers. As a consequence of the bustling trade the road was improved and realigned and road markings or milestones ran the length of it. When the Packet station was moved to Passage East in 1813 I’m sure markers must have lined that route too…It moved to Dunmore in 1818 and there is at least one similar marker from that route extant – at the entrance to Fr Brian Powers residence in Killea.
Anyway, it pays to be curious, as Moslih Eddin Saadi says “A traveller without observation, is a bird without wings”