After four long years of a hard slog, Cheekpoint finally got a new pontoon access to the water, bringing the village into the 21st Century. A small local committee with a very healthy membership of local boat owners was behind the project and from the outset, the focus was on making it accessible and providing modern conveniences.
Cheekpoint Quay, historically, has gone through a number of changes. The earliest map I have seen refers to a short quay in the area as Faithlegg Slip. In 1787 a new mail packet service commenced from the village which led to enhancements presumably and when this moved downriver the quays were left to local users – fishermen, shipping, pilotage, and leisure. In the 1870s the present main quay was rebuilt and enhanced. Disaster struck when the Port of Waterford added river groynes to assist shipping over the Cheekpoint bar in the 1990s and the quay became almost surrounded by mud. The loss of the principal fisheries of the Salmon in 2006 and the Eel in 2007 further impacted the quays.
The Friends of Cheekpoint Quay did significant work a few years back on enhancing the eastern breakwater – the Lower Quay, and also did some work on the main quay, however more substantial work was required on the main quay which was completed by Waterford City & Co Council last year. However the issue still remained – that access when the tide went out was limited, and some might call it dangerous and archaic.
In 2018 a large gathering of local boat users came together in the village hall to try to come up with some means of increasing access and facilities for locals. Although the committee could probably never foresee the obstacles that were to be put in their way (including Covid and a War in Ukraine), they persevered, and finally, on Saturday 17th September 2022 the pontoon was officially opened, and the ribbon was cut by our very own Tommy Sullivan.
The group has provided a 63-meter pontoon with 15-20 berths for CBOA members, including a 9-meter visitor berth, subject to availability. It has gated access for security along with CCTV cameras, lighting, onshore power and water supply, and a non-slip, wheelchair-accessible gangway.
Although none of us know what the future holds, this facility gives me hope that it will be a bit brighter for Cheekpoint. I would imagine it will encourage a new generation to use the river. For the next gen, it might be mostly for leisure, but they are as deserving of access as any other resident of the area. For me it affords a real opportunity to now seriously explore the possibility of maritime heritage from the village – the significant hurdle of insurance now practically addressed by this new facility.
You can find out more about the pontoon from a website created by our young neighbour Erinn at Cheekpoint Boat Owners Association.