Cheekpoint Quay

The oldest map I have seen of the area (1764) indicates Cheekpoint at what we know locally as the Sheag Rock close to the Mount Avenue. The present village and a quay are indicated but called Faithlegg Slip! We know that a quay was here for the Mail Packet ships from 1787.

However, in the early 1870s, a campaign was being run locally to have the quay refurbished. The reportage takes a number of angles to highlight the plight of the quay. One is that the contemporary quay is in a state of dilapidation – making the point that it was hurriedly erected at the time of the packets, that it was built on a small budget, and that it is neither safe nor fit for purpose.

The local landlord (Patrick Power at this stage) was also vocal, explaining that a refurbished and extended quay would facilitate paddle steamer connections between the village and the city, and this would be beneficial to trade, particularly from his Faithlegg estate.

It was 1883 before I found anything further. At this stage a Harbour and Piers Commissioners were sitting and looking at the needs of coastal and river villages, Cheekpoint among them. The next few paragraphs shaded blue are taken from an article in the Waterford Standard – Wednesday 14 November 1883; page 3

THE CHEEKPOINT PIER. Yesterday, eleven o’clock, Mr Blake, M.P, Major Hayes, Mr Johnston, and Major Brady sat in the County Courthouse, Waterford, to hear an application to extend the present pier at Checkpoint.

Evidence was given that there were 30 boats fishing from the village. The men fished salmon, cod and hake, extending down as far as Creaden Head using nets and long lines. They felt that the remains of the old pier were more of a hindrance to fishermen than assistance.  There was a strong suggestion that this be used as a breakwater.  There is also a “present quay” up from the old quay and this it was the preference of the witnesses that this be updated and extended.  Various locals gave testimony including Nicholas Power, John Barry, William Doherty, Ed Power (Master of Pat Powers steam yacht, James Heffernan, and Thomas Dunphy of Bellisle – which is a new name on me but he came across to Cheekpoint, so either a KK or WEX placename! 

Mr J. Wilson Downey also spoke in his capacity as a manager of the Waterford Steamship Company. He regarded the want of a suitable pier Cheekpoint—one that the paddle steamer could call at—as a very great inconvenience not only to the fisherman but the inhabitants of the district. There was great difficulty and much danger in getting goods on board the steamer which was done by means of boats going out to meet her. The steamer took animals, goods, fish, and passengers to Waterford.

The landlord Pat Power also spoke in support of the views expressed by the fishermen .  He also stated that if the commissioners recommended an expenditure of £2,500 towards the repair and extension of the pier, he would contribute £7OO, or a fourth of the amount. The evidence must have been convincing and it was recommended that the work be surveyed.

Wexford and Kilkenny Express – Saturday 24 May 1884; page 4
Wexford and Kilkenny Express – Saturday 26 March 1887; page 4
the fees associated with shipping from Cheekpoint in 1892 – image courtesy of Waterford County Archive
I believe this image of the quay is circa 1900, its very similar to how it looked in my youth, except for the concrete surface that was later added.
A wet February morning in the 1930s for the blessing of the boats…the surface here is hard to determine, but I am guessing cobbled stone with some filling added
An image from the early 70s before the concrete was poured. Photo was given to me by Tomás Sullivan originally but I don’t recall the source. Shows Bill dips Doherty in his Sunday best on the quay, I think its my uncle John is behind him on the boat

As a child in the 1970s, I remember the new look of the surface of the quay, which had been concreted and had tar poured between the concrete sections to allow it to expand and contract.

A few years back the end of the quay was shuttered and strengthened as there was a risk it would collapse. One theory was that dredging work may have undermined whatever foundation it was built on. It was also raised by at least a foot at that time, but the remainder of the quay was left as was.

Last year – 2022 perhaps the most significant addition to the structure was made when a new pontoon was added.

Tommy Sullivan cuts the ribbon on the new pontoon. Photo Tomás Sullivan

In May of 2023, a notice went up explaining that the quay would now be closed and asked that boats be removed from beside it in the dock to allow works to proceed. Below are some early morning images I took of the work as it proceeded. Essentially the inside wall was pointed, the quay drilled and thousands of tonnes of concrete poured in to make the structure solid, and then the surface was raised. New railings were added, the storm wall was raised, and new ladders and mooring bollards were added. Photos below.