New book 2019 – Stories from the Aft Oar

2019 is upon us, and whatever about new year resolutions, one promise I’ve made myself is to publish a second book.

I had planned to write a new book during this year but having had the good fortune of working on a rebrand of Faithlegg House combined with a wonderful sun filled summer and three week holiday in Canada…it all fell through. The intention was to write a maritime history of Waterford but the project was too vast and it will have to wait for a few more years, or another writer.

But I have scoped out a project for myself, one that’s achievable I think once my other commitments such as work, family and community don’t get in the way.

My working title is Stories from the Aft Oar. And here is an abridged introduction and chapter layout to give you a sense of the project.

Salmon fishing at Cheekpoint 2006
Andy Cunningham & Sonny Doherty
Photo Tomás Sullivan
A potential cover for the book
Andy Cunningham and my uncle Sonny Doherty hauling salmon driftnets at Cheekpoint 2006
Photo courtesy of Tomás Sullivan

The Irish have an old phrase for the passing along of local culture and lore.  Ó Ghlúin go Glúin, or from knee to knee.  In short, that stories told to children on the knee of their elders are in turn passed along to the next generation by the same process.  So strong was this connection that the Gaelic word for generation is the same as knee.  But in a fishing community such as mine, and particularly as the old ways were breaking down in my youth, these tales or yarns were told to me while drifting for salmon, in the company of fishermen.  Hence the working title, as we rowed the punts using oars, and the skipper always sat at the aft oar.

The greatest source of my stories has been my father, Bob Doherty; sailor, fisherman, factory worker, gardener and raconteur extraordinaire.  But my father’s ability to tell a story has sometimes caused me difficulties, specifically credibility because when I start with “According to my father…” I have to acknowledged that he was noted for his tall tales.  Pat Murphy, a friend of his who worked with him at the Paper Mills factory in Waterford in the 1970’s recalled to me recently one such tale.

Pat had a car and as they shared the same shift, he brought my father with him to work. One very frosty morning Pat stopped at the collection point but there was no sign of my father. A few weeks later Pat was in the canteen in work and thought he’d blackguard my father and so he mentioned to some of his colleagues about Bob sleeping it in some weeks previous.

My father came straight over and made answer “Well now mates, Pat Murphy don’t believe it, but I have since rectified the problem. I was out on the road one day not long after the incident and I met a man and we fell to talking. I mentioned how on frosty nights the clock don’t work so good. Well the man was an engineer and he was very interested and insisted on seeing it, and after carefully examining it, told me it was a tropical clock. Christ I said, I bought it when sailing overseas in Egypt, but the chap never mentioned that. A few days later a lagging jacket arrived by post from the engineer, and do ye know what? – it hasn’t lost a second since”

According to Pat each of the men looked from one to the other and then to him. But my father wasn’t done yet. “And I’ll tell ye now mates, I haven’t been late for Pat Murphy since”

And all Pat could do was agree, he hadn’t. He was regularly asked by his ex work colleagues for years after if Bob Doherty’s tropical clock was still keeping time.

My father Bob on the left, sailors tattoo proudly displayed

So my father had a bit of a reputation when it came to stories, but over the years I have found more than a grain of truth in many of them as indeed I have found similar in much that I was told as a child.  There’s no stories of tropical clocks here, but who knows maybe there will be in the future!

A prospective outline of the book and chapters


Tides and Tales



Chapter 1              Press Gangs – my father

Chapter 2              Buttermilk Castle – nanny (NLI Photo)

Chapter 2              Mail Packets – Cheekpoint quay and the village Andy joe and others

Chapter 3              Paddle Steamers – Early transport – Christy Doherty (NLI Photo)

Chapter 4              Captain Cook and the Lady that was buried twice (Church photo)

Chapter 5              Dollar bay pirates – walking on the strand

Chapter 6              Weir Wars (photo of Castle Weir – Johnny Moran as a child)

Johnny Moran, a gran uncle who emigrated and died in America. Photographed at the Castle Weir 1930
Photo by Fr Michael Doyle
I got the original from America recently from my cousin Brian Moran to help with my work

Chapter 7              Alfred D Snow – Big Patsy Doherty (painting – Brian for permission)

Chapter 8              Quarantine Station – Eamon Duffin

Chapter 9              Hobblers –

Chapter 10            Coast Guard – Jim

Chapter 11            Spider Light – John –

Chapter 12            Darkie Burns and the Schooner B I – Ellen – (Photo of BI Pat?)

Chapter 13            Banshee Attack at Coolbunnia – Halloween times

Chapter 14            Captain Tebbenjoahnnes lucky escape  (sketch of UC class?)

Chapter 15            Coningbeg & Formby – (Source a hi res image)

Chapter 16            Captain Udvardy – nanny (PM maybe for an image?)

Chapter 17            Escaping the cairngorm

Chapter 18            Pat Hanlon/Altmark my father

Chapter 19            The boys that lassoed the mine and saved the Barrow Bridge

Chapter 20            Campile Bombing -my father

Chapter 21            The Great Western – Tom Sullivan  – (NLI photo?)

Chapter 22            Minaun Hill Cross – my father  (via Brian Moran)

Chapter 23            MV Ocean Coast – Maurice Doherty yarn (Fathers award)

Chapter 24            Building Great Island Power station – Pat Murphy yarn

So my plan this year is to work on creating this book for self publication in the summer. However, I might also submit an outline with some sample chapters to publishers in the hope of securing a book deal. It never entered my head with my first book, Before the Tide Went Out, but my experience is that without publicity and the support of a publisher it is difficult to get the book seen at a national level. I’d certainly recommend self publishing to anyone, but I’m no businessman and a publisher might take the hassle out of stocking, publicity etc which takes so much time.

If you have any comments, feedback or encouragement I’d love to hear it. Here’s to a wonderful 2019 for us all, a year of good health, safety and wonderful stories of local maritime history. Thanks for all your support. Andrew

How far the Tide drifted

Welcome to my online gall

ery.  It arose from a post by Maria Doyle, originally from Ballyhack. She suggested a photo library taken of my book cover from wherever people read it.  And the title of this online gallery is suggested by Maria too. Please feel free to participate by sending a photo via email or post to my facebook page or twitter page, details below. I will try to include everyone’s submission along with any description you see fit to share. I will update the content as often as time and submissions allow 🙂

October 30th 2017 Maria Doyle

From a winter break in Abu Dhabi. Via Maria Doyle

November 1st 2017 David Carroll

November 1st 2017 c 4.30pm Sandymount Strand Dublin, the tide definitely out!

My second contributor is David Carroll a regular on the page.  David added the following:

“Sandymount Strand made famous by another writer, James Joyce as it was the starting point for Ulysses June 16th 1904! Howth head in background and the two Poolbeg Towers behind. Sandymount is also the location of Mulligans Pub, a very welcoming stop-off for many Deise folk up in Dublin for soccer and hurling matches”

4th November 2017 Ryan Doherty

Ashling Doherty at Tappan Zee Bridge, Hudson River New York
This from my cousin Ryan who was reared in New York but features in the book as he was on holiday in Cheekpoint in 1989 and was a regular on the river with Michael “Spud” Murphy and I. He even shot some wonderful video back then, that is still looked on fondly to this day.

Ryan says “This is the Tappan Zee Bridge 30 miles north of New York City. The original iron bridge in the background built in the 1950’s now closed with the new Tappan Zee opened in 2017. I thought that appropriate and very fitting. Change everywhere”

6th November 2017 Anne Keough Keehn

Anne Keough Keehn and Liz Hutchinson, my two super models who dared the winter rains in
Washington DC 
Liz and her husband Michael very kindly came to the launch in Jack Meades and got some signed copies to take to America for their visit to a relation Anne Keough Keehn. Annes relatives came from Waterford including Cheekpoint and we have an ancestor in common, my great grandmother on my dads side, Ellen Doherty nee Walsh of the Russianside!

6th November 2017 Avril Bowe

A Prague Reading!
Dean Gunnip (Coolbunnia) and his dad Pat were in Prague over the weekend and they had the book along for?…  Well I’m not sure what they had the book along for, but I’m delighted to get this photo from them. Thanks lads

6th November 2017 Maria McMullen

Jerry & Maria enjoying some wintry sun

Maria’s dad hailed from the Cross Roads Cheekpoint originally and we meat during the year on one of our local places and people tours.  Her husband Jerry originally hailed from the ‘real’ capital, and he’s a genuine rebel/  Maria says “Enjoying Andrew Doherty’s book Before the tide went out takes me back to lovely times spent in Cheekpoint Waterford.Saved my book for my trip to Ramsgate Kent and the weather is lovely.”

9th November 2017  Brendan Doherty & Family.  

Musician Brendan Doherty showing off his copy on Atlantic Beach Florida.  Brendan grew up in Faithlegg only a mile away from here, but he has sure seen a lot of the world.  Weather looks beautiful…tough life man!

10th November 2017.  Carmel Jacob

Special delivery today to Carmel and her Brother Clem, at his business premises of Clem Hire.  We grew up together in Cheekpoint.  Apparently the book was supposed to be a surprise for Clem for Christmas!  He was reading it as I left…

10th November 2017  Julie Ward

Its nice to see the staff at Ardkeen Quality Foodstores getting a break from all their hard work especially at 6pm on a busy Friday afternoon.  Their star barista Joe Foley seems to be taking it all in his stride.

12th November 2017 Anne Keough Keehn 

Anne seems to be bringing her copy on holidays with her too…this from the Iguazú Falls, Argentina

19th November 2017 Eamonn Doolan

Eamonn sent on this interesting image from Lowestoft in England. Its the most easterly point in the UK but I think Eamonn was possibly drawing a paralle between it and the theme of my own book. Like Waterford harbour Lowestoft has evidence of one of the earliest settlements in the UK and also like the harbour it was famed for its rich fishery. Sadly now much diminished, but at least they have an oil industry…for now.

Eamonn also posted a review of my book on Facebook recently.  I will leave the last words with him:

Well I have read the book and re read some of the chapters in this book, what a fantastic insight into the thoughts of a young lad growing up in a small fishing village in Cheekpoint Co Waterford, and I loved his tales of the stories that were told by the older members of the community, and although I have never set foot in a fishing boat I felt in reading his words I was with him on some of his outings! although I would have been hanging over the side of the boat!! no sea legs!! well done Andrew for reminding us all that life on the river or sea can be a wonderful thing but can also be a life changer! chapter sixteen. RIP Joseph.

8th December 2017. Edmund Hanlon.
A distant relation Ed Hanlon, connected with the Hanlon family of Coolbunnia photographed outside the
Whitehouse at Christmas time.  

Ed quipped, in a swipe at the present President “Here’s a photo for your global readership gallery. My guess is that the guy living in the house behind me will prefer to wait for the film adaptation”  

7th January 2018. Joan Cosgrove

Joan and her husband Bob, from Longview, Washington on the Columbia River were one of the first to buy an e book, and quickly followed it up with a physical copy. They came to Ireland in 2014 (photo above of them in Kilarney), and met with Maria Doyle in Ballyhack as Bob was tracing his Irish routes in the village. Seasoned travelers in their 80’s, hopefully they make it back again soon.

8th January 2018. Ronan Allen

Ronan kindly sent on the photo above, and chose a very fitting spot in Australia as a backdrop: “Attached is a photo of the book being read at the Fishermans Memorial in Freemantle Western Australia. There is a commemoration here on Wednesday to honour the Fenians that arrived on the last convict ship 150 years ago”

January 15th 2018. Jacinta Doherty Lorimer

What Jacinta said from Stanley Park in Vancourver: “So here is your book overlooking “ Lionsgate Bridge “ in Vancouver , it connects downtown Vancouver to “ The North Shore” the mountain behind is Grouse Mountain- as you can see there is a few mountains – collectively the are called the lions – hence lions gate bridge. The Bridge was built by the GUINNESS family ( yes them Guinness The land I’m standing on was native land many moons ago , they were pushed off and were giving land across the bridge. There is still a reservation settlement there to this day, it’s bitter sweet , the land they vacated is now a national park worth millions ( if not billions ) in property value, but the land they were given is also worth millions now, you could never afford to buy it … Although I wish they would change the name back to the band of natives that once lived there.”  
It’s an interesting link to the theme of the book, a culture and way of life being removed!

How Far the Tide Drifted has certainly taken me to some far off places and this week its Yamhill, Oregon.  Thanks to Joan and Janet (photographed) Cosgrove for going to the bother of posting this photo.  Yamhill is apparently noted for its cherry’s and sheep, here’s some extra info too,_Oregon

May 16th 2018 Frank and Ann Murphy

Frank and his wife Ann, who took the photo, travelled by train to Limerick and while there beside the banks of the Shannon and overlooking John’s Castle he paused for a photo.  Of the trip, Frank had this to say; “In my youth Co. Limerick & City were probably more familiar to me than Waterford. A different social story but like your own consigned to history.  I know my Mum would have enjoyed a good read of the book. Hence my trip there. (A home away from home in my youth.)”  Frank has been a long term supporter of my work, including the book and I very much appreciated the photo. 

August 9th 2018 Yvette Davis

An appropriate sculpture as a background I must say. Eoghan Hegarty and his children Donnacha and Alice pose with my book at Memensha, Martha’s Vineyard while on a family holiday to relatives.  Who got a copy of the book for Christmas I’m told.  Many thanks guys, and many thanks to Yvette for taking the photo and passing it along.  I think Donnacha is checking if I have it uploaded yet 🙂

26th July 2018 Anne Keough Keehn

Anne presenting the book to Deputy of Mission, Michael Lonergan, for the Irish Ambassador, Dan Mulhall, in Washington DC.  Was hoping for an invite given that Dan is a fellow Waterford man, who knows maybe in the future!

Tomás Sullivan. 25th September 2018

Tomás Sullivan sent this along whilst working as a safety boatman on the new Barrow bridge which is crossing the river below New Ross.  It was early morning, and a very calm river 

Mark Baldwin 1st November 2018

Mark sent on this image of the book from Cape Town, South Africa via his brother in law Andrew Lloyd aka Bob the Scientist, a fellow blogger and home educator.  I had the pleasure of Marks company previously when Deena and I did a family reunion walk for the Baldwins, organised by Andrews wife Leonie. The Baldwins had earlier lived close to Jack Meades and Knockroe and are related to the Baldwins of Passage East. No strangers to fish then!

I publish a blog each Friday.  If you like this piece or have an interest in the local history or maritime heritage of Waterford harbour and environs you can email me at to receive the blog every week.
My Facebook and Twitter pages are more contemporary and reflect not just heritage 
and history but the daily happenings in our beautiful harbour:  
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Overcoming Ophelia and Brian

As my regulars now know, I launched my first book last Friday 20th October.  Called Before the Tide Went Out it tells my own story from my earliest memories into my childhood recollections of the village of Cheekpoint and the fisherfolk that made up my world.  I bring you fishing in my teens and early adult years and share the magic and misery as I went from salmon driftnetting to eel fishing and herring driftnetting. As tough as I thought the life was, it was nothing compared to writing it all down, and that in turn was painless compared to getting it ready for publication.  But of course in the run up to actually launching it, we had the most powerful storm to ever hit the country followed up by our first winter storm.  Ophelia and Brian nearly up-scuppered the lot.
Damien McLellan, myself and Tomás Sullivan, who both were crucial in the project
Photo via Eoin Nevins

At this point I imagine the ex hurricane Ophelia is known worldwide. The run up was alarming with weather warnings, ships and fishing boats running for cover and a national emergency being declared.  Monday 16th October started bright and fine, and initially the hopes was that the storm would skirt the west coast and leave us alone, if with a lot of egg on face. But alas by 11am we were feeling its first effects here, which was about low water in the harbour…always a change with the tides!  We were delighted when Joel, our son, returned from fishing just about the same time. They had gone to Woodstown to try protect the Oyster crop, but the wind had prevented the tide from dropping to its normal level…another bad sign.

My new Book “Before the Tide Went Out” 
International orders can be made here.
Find out where you can buy off the shelf or order from Ireland here
By 12 noon the trees were bending over dramatically and the river was as wild and frenzied as I can ever recall…and then it just got worse. Yet we escaped the worst of the damage as roofs blew off, tress came down and electricity and telephones went dead.  The government were vindicated in their advice of shutting all schools, restricting transport and advising workplaces to close early…that of course also included my printer, Lettertec in Cork.
On the Tuesday, the clean up started and the extent of the damage was realised. Schools remained closed and many businesses were unable to re-open, being cut off by trees or starved of the essentials such as water or power to run, Lettertec being one of them!  We received an email from my namesake Andrew Haworth telling us he would be in contact as soon as he knew anything.
By Wednesday we were panicking.  Cheking the ESB faults map gave no reassurance.  It estimated it could be Saturday 21st before the power was restored to the printers.  Family friends in the Cork area were without power too…life was tough. We tried ringing but to no avail, a follow up email went unanswered.  Should we cancel?  Two days to go, how long does it take to print 500 books?  How likely is it that the power will be restored.  Wednesday night an email arrived at 8pm.  Power was restored at the factory, a personal guarantee that the books would be done and ready for collection on the following afternoon, Thursday 19th.
My daughter#1 holding the first copy

The trip to Lettertec was a trial with driving rain and flooded roads.  But the feeling of holding your first book was some thrill.  Of course the problem then was trying to ensure you sold them, or at least enough to cover the costs and pay back the credit union loan.  The launch was the essential part we were told, and at least now we could look forward.

Liam Hartley at Jack Meades had offered the use of the pub free of charge as a way of saying thanks for the many blogs I had written previously highlighting the heritage value of the place. Dylan Bible and Amanda Farady had offered their services freely too. So we had a venue and entertainment. Damien Tiernan of RTE had agreed to make the keynote, a man who knows a lot about the water and the communities that depend on it.  We had our posters out, it was covered in that weeks Munster Express thanks to journalist Kieran Foley and Fintan Walsh. Jean and Paul at Waterford in your Pocket added it to the weekends event guide. And the reaction of facebook and twitter was amazing.  It seemed nothing could stop us now.

Buy the book online if you live outside of Ireland.

Irish orders or clarifications via

The Book is now available to buy off the shelf in the following shops

Ardkeen Quality Food Store Waterford

Book Centre – Waterford

Book Centre – Wexford

Irish National Heritage Park, Ferrycarraig, Co Wexford

Nolans Bookshop, New Ross, Co Wexford

Powers shop Cheekpoint

Readers Choice, Dungarvan

                                              More outlets coming soon

But the forecast on Thursday evening has a weather warning, storm Brian.  Friday 20th was a busy day, I was up at 5am as there was a blog to get out and then of course the last minute jobs.  By 3pm I was starting to flag, unfortunately the storm was doing the opposite.  Outside the wind started to howl and the rain started to come down hard.  And then the messages started to arrive, messages of apology! The weather was too bad to travel. People were really disappointed, and it was totally understandable if not the safe thing to do.  I even wondered was it fair to go ahead. By 6pm my mood and energy was on the floor, but Deena dragged me out the door.  “The show”, she said, “must go on”.

At about 7pm what felt like the final nail in my coffin, was a text from Damien Tiernan. A flood was expected in Clonmel and Damien was going live to report for the 9 o’Clock RTE News.  He had to cancel, sorry about that etc. He had warned me it was possible before he ever took it on.  Deep down I was gutted, but I had to be fair, he has a job to do.  So I dug deep and sent him an understanding text.  Seconds later he replied with a “got ya!”  I could have killed him, but was too relieved.
Me with Michael Farrell Barony of Gaultier Historical Society wishing me well

And then the door started to open and people flooded in.  So many I became over-whelmed…not then, but now as I am writing this.  People I knew all my life, people like my neighbour Bridgid Power, 92 our eldest resident in the village now. My old schoolmates from Faithlegg Brendan Foley and Michael Duffin, William and Ger Doherty.  People like Michael Farrell of the Barony of Gaultier Historical Society who would walk through a block wall for you.  And people who I don’t even know except from the blog, people such as John Myler who came along with his family and who up to then I only knew through the social media world.  To be honest the time was brief with little opportunity to properly speak with people and soon it was time for our very capable, and village elder in his own right to call the evening to order, Tommy Sullivan.  

Tommy Sullivan MC on the night
A very dapper Damien Tiernan entertains the crowd

Damien brought the house down with his talk.  It was everything I had imagined it would be.  He spoke of our traditions, the characters, the nicknames, the inter-village rivalry and the desolation that not being able to fish creates.  But he also spoke of the importance of working together, of digging deep, and of trying to rise above the naysayers, individuals who go out of their way to undermine and destroy those who try their best to achieve something positive.

my God Mother, Elsie, my cousin Michael ‘Spud’ Murphy and my Mother Mary

Ray McGrath stood in for Noel McDonagh and spoke on behalf of the SE FLAG who had agreed to provide a percentage of funds towards the printing costs, and my dear friend Damien McLellan said a few words on the editing process, underlining the fact that we all need support in realising our dreams.

Deena and daughter #2 doing the hard work behind the scenes
I’m not sure if Ophelia or Brian were sent to test my resolve or just to underline the struggles I had to overcome in being a young fisherman.  Nature is something I admire, respect and am humbled by.  But fishermen can’t allow weather to dictate their lives.  Except maybe a hurricane!
I publish a blog each Friday.  If you like this piece or have an interest in the local history or maritime heritage of Waterford harbour and environs you can email me at to receive the blog every week.
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

Launching the punts (and book)

This day next week Friday 20th October I will launch my first book titled Before the Tide Went Out.  It takes place at Jack Meades on the Cheekpoint road at 7.30pm and everyone is welcome.  Of course launches are something I am very familiar with.  Launching punts that is, not books!
As a child in Cheekpoint there was no greater symbol of the fishing than the punts that we worked the rivers on.  In those days they were made of timber, generally larch planks over oak frames. Following the long spring and summer of the salmon and eel fishing boats were heavy having absorbed river water into their planks.  The usually needed repairs also. 
Boats were generally hauled out on some of the high tides such as the equinox springs in late September. These tended to be a community event, groups of men (and children) gathering to help to drag up the punts from high water and onto the shoreline. Once up, they would be turned over, keel side up and the gunwales raised off the ground with rocks under them to allow the wind blow under and dry them out.

Wear and tear on punts could have been simple or more complicated including; keel bands (a band of metal that protected the keel) could be loose or broken following a season of beaching on gravel or stone, natural wear on timber from weather, damage to gunwales from hauling nets or ropes or having to replace timbers or planks, knees, thwarts etc.  Other works were guaranteed; touching up damaged or missing caulking and dealing with faded paint work.

Turning over a punt at Moran’s poles 2012. including Johnny Leftor, Joel Doherty, Bernard Cunningham,
Chris Doherty, Andrew Doherty, Robert Doherty, Pat Moran & Niall Cunningham. Photo: Hannah Doherty

In the village the Green was the favourite spot to overwinter. The Rookery quay would also have a few boats. Moran’s poles was a favourite of Paddy & Pat Moran, Terry Murphy, Paddy, Christy and Johnny Doherty and Maurice Doherty too. Further along towards Whelan’s Road Charlie Duffin kept his boat and in the next spot Jim Duffin. All of them sadly gone to their eternal rest now except Pat. Ned “Garragier” Power kept his punt and prong down under the house on the strand below Coolbunnia.

The barnacles and green moss that would have grown on the boats bottom during the heat of the summer would have died back while upturned. At some stage these would be scrapped off and washed down. Some preferred to do it soon after, others not until they were readying the hull in the spring. There was always someone down at the boats tinkering away at something. As children we loved to come across the men working on the boats. There was always a yarn, maybe a few bob for running an errand or an opportunity to learn some particular skill.  Some skills were less appreciated at home than others however. 
Work in progress on a punt, Sean Doherty and Michie Fortune.
Photo: Molly Doherty
One Sunday morning I returned home from the strand and asked my father if I could light his cigarette. He was sitting at the fire and nearly choked on his cup of tea. Anyway I persisted and relenting he said “go on so”. I took one out of the box and put it in my mouth, struck a match on the box and cupped me hand around the flame. Bending down I puffed hard and came up with the cigarette lit to perfection. Amazed, he asked me “Where did you learn that” – “Paddy Doherty just showed me” I said, beaming with pride, “He said any man that fishes needs to know how to light a fag when out in a gale”. “Well, you’re on your way so” said my father as he snatched it out of my fingers
Before the boat was turned it would need to be coated with a mixture of tar and pitch to seal the hull. Any caulking that had come undone would be replaced prior to this. Tar and pitch could be purchased from the now sadly closed Johnny Hearne’s on the quay in Waterford or from Dunphy’s hardware store in Campile. But people had many sources, and I remember it said that the best you could get was from the Harbour Board, if you had a contact.
launching from Moran’s poles 1990’s.  Anthony Doherty, Gavin Doherty, Dermot Kavanagh, Bob Doherty RIP, Chris Doherty, Andrew Doherty and just out of shot Robert Doherty.  Photo: Deena Bible
This would be melted down in a pot or an old paint can over an open fire and you had to be careful that the tar didn’t boil too hot or it could catch fire. The same pot and brush tended to be used from year to year.  The brush used would have to be a good one, or it would fall apart in the heat. You needed to be careful with the boiling liquid, as it would burn like hell if it got on your skin.  A friend still carries the scar left from an accident, the only relief from which was to run headlong into the river and plunge his hand into the water.  
Once the hull was tarred it would be left to dry and then the punt was turned over to expose the inside. Then this too would be tarred and finally the gunwales and strikes would be painted inside and out. Each boat had her own traditional colours and a lot of care was generally paid to ensure that the upper paint work looked well.  
Blessing of a punt at the Green Cheekpoint c1964
Once all was in order, it was time to launch. This tended to be done a few weeks before the new season started as boats needed time to swell in the water and close up after the planks had dried out and most probably shrunk. Again it was a big event and most boats would go out together to save on time.
Modern day launching, from left, Tomás Sullivan, Tom Sullivan, Seamus Heffernan, Maurice Doherty & Michael Murphy
Sat 26th July 2014
Repairs these days take place with power tools, so boats tend to come out on a trailer and be towed home to a shed and a nearby power source. It’s also a fact that most boats these days are fibreglass or are timber boats that have a fibreglass coating. Hence the traditions described above have either died out or are significantly altered and reduced, which when you think about it, is a big loss to a local tradition.
This story is an edited excerpt taken from the book.  Before the Tide Went Out has been a work of passion for several years now and Damien Tiernan RTE’s SE correspondent will be my special guest on the night. Tommy Sullivan will MC the event and we will have someone to speak on behalf of the SE FLAG group who helped me with some of the costs associated with the publication and launch.  It takes place in Jack Meades, Friday 20th October at 7.30pm and all are welcome.  The book will be available on the night and sells for €15. Tom McSweeney has written the foreword to the book and just this week wrote and produced a podcast explaining why the book is essential reading to anyone with an interest in fishing communities, particularly department officials.  If you click on this link and scroll down to the fisheries podcast you can hear it.

You can buy the book online

I publish a blog each Friday.  If you like this piece or have an interest in the local history or maritime heritage of Waterford harbour and environs you can email me at to receive the blog every week.
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