Cheekpoints Textile industry of the late 18th C

One of the industries that grew up in Cheekpoint in conjunction with the Mail Packet station was textiles.  Nothing now remains, except some brief mentions of the trade and local lore.  It appears that the Cheekpoint venture was part of an initiative in the 1780’s to move textile industries out of large towns like Dublin, which provided hefty subsidies to landlords.  The local landlord was Cornelius Bolton, who we have met before. 1 
The one most tangible piece of evidence apart from written sources is a local placename.  It’s been speculated that the Green in Cheekpoint owes it’s name to a bleaching green.   Bleaching was a process of whiting material to remove stains from the textile manufacturing process.  During the industrial revolution the process had been cut from months to days but newly spun cloth still needed to be laid out in the sun.  The Green seems a modest size compared to some of the greens, such as the photo below.  It’s worth speculating that many of the fields around could have been employed in the past, but surely south facing would have been more productive.
Bleaching green. Accessed from
Julian Walton drawing from Matthew Butler mentions in this excerpt from I was a Day in Waterford “…A report of 1788 states that there were thirty stocking frames in operation, though there were only twenty-two looms in linen and cotton.” (Fewer: p49)
Stocking Frames gives some sense of the type of activity happening in the village. The industrial revolution saw the creation of many mechanical solutions to what had previously been a hand crafted skill. One such invention was the Stocking Frame, which could make socks, albeit of poorer quality, but obviously much quicker and cheaper.  The actual invention went back to 1589 and was credited to a man named William Lee.  It would eventually give rise to the term Luddites – those who rose up and fought against the machines and the displacement of their work and income.  

The machines saw a trade in stocking frame looms emerged, where they were purchased by the wealthy and were then leased out to workers to make the socks.  These were then sold on by the wealthy merchant. Looms were installed in the cottages of the poor and with minimum training they could soon be turning out socks for export.  In the case of Cheekpoint, it is likely that the product was exported directly to the army, then fighting in the Napoleonic war, which ended in 1815 and which would have seen the market shrink.  In November of 1788 such product was sold and exported “…300 dozen plain, ribbed and ribbed and figuered cotton stockings at a profit of 25%… ” In November of 1789 Daniel Malone, possibly the manager of the textile business, reported that the Bleach Green had been robbed of  “…39 pairs of cotton stockings, 28 yards of calico, and 24 yards of linen, and offered a reward of £10 for information”  In 1792 Malone was advertising for “..six apprentices for his hosiery business” (Fewer: p49)

Accessed from:
The mention on cotton or linen looms is also telling.  Hand looms have a long tradition and here’s a good example of how the machinery of the time may have operated. But if you have more time, here’s a longer clip showing the entire process from flax harvesting on.
I grew up with rumors of a cotton mill in the village and some have speculated that it was close to the Green.  However, the remains of any building of such a size have not been found either around the green or elsewhere in the village.  No signs of same on any old maps either.  Is it possible that over the years the hand loom operation were mistaken for a cotton mill?  Probably.
Anthony Rogers could tell me that his mother remembered as a child the remains of rusting machinery in a field where Tommy and Maura Sullivan now live.  These she was told were the remains of the old cotton mill, and that pits used in the soaking of flax and other materials was near the site too.  There’s certainly plenty of running water nearby.  Maybe there was, or maybe what was seen were some remains of the hand looms or other related apparatus.
The industry must have been impacted by the loss of the mail packet station and the financial pressures which it caused for Cornelius Bolton.  We don’t know exactly when the industry closed but Samuel Lewis writing in 1837 noted that that Cheekpoint was “formerly the Waterford post-office packet station, and the seat of a cotton and rope manufactory, which since the removal of the packets to Dunmore have been discontinued.” (Fewer: p49)
Please join us and the Cheekpoint Fishing Heritage Project on Saturday 22nd August at 5pm at Cheekpoint Quay to explore more of the Mail Packet station and  Cheekpoint’s Industrial Age as part of Heritage Week 2015
We will also provide our regular walks, as part of Heritage week, Cheekpoints Maritime Trail will run on Wednesday 26th and the Faithlegg Heritage Tour will run on Sunday 23rd & 30th.  Details on our website at or via the links above from the Heritage Council website for the week.

1. Aalen. F.H.A. et al Atlas of the Irish Rural Landscape.  2003. Cork University Press

Fewer T.N. (Ed) I was a day in Waterford.  2001.  Ballylough Books.  Waterford

August 15th, last day of the salmon season

The salmon driftnet season traditionally closed on August 15th, and it was always brought mixed feelings.  Grateful to have a break after the rigor of 24hr a day fishing, but conscious that within a week you’d be longing to be back into the familiar rhythm of tides and currents, moon and sun, wind, rain and shine.

One of the closes I recall best was the year Michael “Spud” Murphy had come fishing with me in my own punt.  T’was a season that had blurred past.  Weekends couldn’t come fast enough, some indeed starting on a Thursday and finishing late on a Sunday night/Monday morning on the windy stool at Jack Meades.  During the week was almost as bad, there was always a chance of drink from many of the ships anchored at Cheekpoint, either in exchange for fish, or hard currency.

That particular year we stopped short as high water was at 9pm and many crews decided to call it a season at that point.  The close meant that the drift nets had to be removed from the punt, it was illegal to have them aboard thereafter.  Some would fish out the ebb tide later, only to finish at 6am next morning, but t’wud mean leaving the nets until high water and dragging yourself out of bed a few hours after getting home, which sounded like a lot of hard work.  Besides, getting home at 9.30 meant Jacks by 10, the place would be only getting lively!

Punts were lined up along the quay, the earlier boats in, taking plum spots beside the railings, which made it easier to get the nets out of the punt and over the jagged cement edges of the quay.  We were working on the shore, so made our way to Moran’s poles, hauled the nets out on the Strand above high water mark and “tripping off” the punt, turned heals for home!

Next morning, a little the worse for wear, we started the job of “ranging over” the nets and separating them out for bringing home.  Cheekpoint boats generally carried 6 nets.  Sometimes a net was “mounted” individually to a rope, measuring about 22 fathoms in length.  Sometimes two nets were “mounted” or “roped” together.  The individual nets were then tied together to form a train of nets and the ends of each net was “sconeded” (at least I think that was the term and possibly a derivative of Selvidge, the meshs that are roped onto the nets) into each other using a piece of roping twine.  To separate them out, the Head and Foot rope was untied, the “Sconding” was removed and the individual nets were then tied up.  Being separated meant that carrying them up off the strand was a less back breaking task.  On the quay this was also done, but fishermen there also had the choice to leave them together and hoist them into the back of a car or into a trailer.

“ranging” the nets

Once home, the nets were generally washed.  At home we filled a barrel with warm water and some washing powder, to try remove the dirt and grime of the river.  They were then rinsed in clean water and hung up to dry, perhaps out of a nearby tree or even across the washing line.  This practice was not as common once the monofilament netting came in the mid to late 1990’s.   Many fishermen believed that  monofilament was better once there was a new shine on them, and some took that to the extreme as they “stripped off” the old nets and remounted new nets.

When the nets were dry they were “lofted” or stored away in a shed, and would be taken down during the long winter months to be mended and repaired in preparation for the next season to come.  The task was as much a social affair as a task, and some of the sheds were as comfortable as a kitchen, with a fire, natural light and many’s the time a drink to be had too.

All now gone since the closure of the Salmon fishing.  Gone but not forgotten.

Cheekpoint’s era as an industrial village

In 1785 Cornelius Bolton along with other investors bought out the Mail Packet Station, then based at Passage East and moved it upriver to Cheekpoint, Co Waterford.  Around this business, Bolton built a vibrant industrial village.  The man who came to run the Packet, a Welsh Quaker named Thomas Owen arrived in 1787 with two cutters and his family.  His youngest daughter Elizabeth recorded her observations of the village and her family in poetry and in 1826 published a book entitled “Poetical Recollections”.

A Cutter, picture accessed from

For this years Heritage week, Cheekpoint Fishing Heritage Project, which has participated in Heritage Week since 2005,  will partner with Russianside Tours to provide a walk and talk entitled Cheekpoints Industrial Age as perceived through the poetry of Elizabeth.  It will be held on Saturday 22nd August 2015 at 5pm and commences at Cheekpoint Quay.

Waterford has a wealth of early Industrial Heritage which we can sometimes ignore, despite the evidence being right before our eyes.  A report from Dublin Civic Trust highlights this in the county of Waterford but alas doesn’t include much of what occurred at Cheekpoint.

We have met Cornelius Bolton and the list of his and his fathers achievements before.  Cheekpoint would see the development of a cotton mill and textile industry, a rope walk, brick kiln, cobalt and slate mining, a new road alignment, hotel and a regular coach service to connect the city with the packets.  There has also been rumor of ship building in the village.

All of these developments centered around the Packet, but from early on, there was criticism.  Given that the ships relied on wind power, and that Cheekpoint was so far up the harbour, there was much disquiet and criticism.  The authorities were looking at moving the station further down the harbour to Dunmore East.  We will look at this, and some of the enterprises mentioned above, in more detail on the blog in the coming weeks.

What of Elizabeth however.  Well her parents Thomas and Jane Owen had ten children, but many died in childbirth or very young.  Four survived to adulthood; Eleanor, Elizabeth, William and Samuel.

Her mother Jane died at Cheekpoint in 1811 and her father followed his wife in 1813.  These times are reflected on by Elizabeth and there is much sadness and loneliness evoked.  There is also, of course, many pieces that give a sense of the village, the maritime connection, her love of nature and and her privileged position within the community.

The death of Thomas Owen, was a prelude to what would befall the village, Cornelius Bolton and the packet. Following his death, but probably not because of it, the Mail Packet station moved back to Passage East.  Bolton was forced to sell off parts of the business and his land to repay his debts, culminating in the sale of his mansion at Faithlegg to Nicholas Mahon Power. The Packet would later be taken from private enterprise when in 1823 the Post Office took over the role and of course Steam was on the way too! Coincidentally, Thomas died on July 24 1813.  To borrow a phrase from a man very popular here in Waterford – On this day!

Please join us on Saturday 22nd August at 5pm at Cheekpoint Quay to explore the poetry of Elizabeth Owen and Cheekpoint’s Industrial Age.

We will also provide our regular walks, as part of the week, Cheekpoints Maritime Trail will run on Wednesday 26th and the Faithlegg Heritage Tour will run on Sunday 23rd & 30th.  Details on our website at or via the links above from the Heritage Council website for the week.

A brief history of Daisybank House, Bolton, Cheekpoint

Daisybank house, was a derelict three story Georgian mansion when I was growing up.  Its only saving grace to me with its shattered windows and crumbling brickwork was an old orchard at its rear, with some very flavorsome apples.  A visit to those apple trees was one of the mainstays of our summer schedule.

There is a wonderful architectural description on the listing of the buildings of Ireland.  There are additional images here.  Its interesting to note that it considers the property to date between 1750-1780 and speculate that it may have been built as a harbour masters home or a constabulary barracks.  Despite searching, I haven’t yet found any evidence of same.

Photo from Buildings of Ireland (above)

Daisybank opened as a Coaching Inn in 1793, serving the mail packet station at Cheekpoint which originated with the local landlord Cornelius Bolton.  We know the date as the hotelier, J. Sly advertised his new Inn in the Waterford Herald. The advertisement is dated as January 21st 1793  By calling it a new Inn, I think it safe to assume that the old inn is what we now know as McAlpins, Suir Inn.

The next mention that we find is an advertisement from May 12th 1801, The lease is open to be filled immediately, and states that it was lately occupied by one William Jackson.

Jackson we learn elsewhere had only days previously “rose early, went down to the pier, threw himself in the river and was drowned”1

In 1808 James Howley was running the hotel and the venture was expanding.  He was overseeing the erection of new stables for as many as ten horses. 2 

I have read three accounts or reviews of those who stayed at the Hotel, none of them were very positive and one is blunt and to the point “It was dark before we reached Cheek Point – where there is a large dirty inn – for the reception of Packet Passengers”3

The mail Packet moved to Passage East in 1813 and with it the hotelier Howley.4 His reputation must not have been all bad as a hotelier!

Frustratingly there is no record to be found from 1813 to 1848, But in 1848 Patrick Tracy was leasing this property from the Power estate when it was valued at over £18.  He was still there two years later, and interestingly, it was then being used as a hotel.  We can only speculate that it remained so during this period.

Although you might think that there was not a lot of call for a hotel in the village at that time, accounts of shipping and other happenings on the river highlight a vibrant level of trade in and out of the harbour.  A piece from the Waterford News 7th June 1850 gives an example of a Sunday afternoon in the village.  We learn that the quay was “crowded with boats of all kinds and sizes” The monied class of the city were escaping downriver to spend a day boating, walking “beauteous walks”to the Minaun and there views that “could hardly be excelled”  Tracey is running a table d’hote which on the day is “filled to overflowing”  The entire piece is given below.

The Waterford News 7/6/1850

I could only find one other mention of the house, dated 1886.  The Advertisement is below, but in brief a certain Captain Coffey is putting up the lease on his “charming residence”.  The lease is for 8 years and the present owner (Patrick Power of Faithlegg House) has expended £500 on improvements.  The rent is £29 per annum.

Aggie Power came to live in the house in 1888 according to her grandson Deaglán.  she was four months old at the time.  Wonder did the family move in as a result of the above add.  Aggie lived to be a great age and had a lifetime of stories connected to the house.  Alas I never knew the lady but Pat Murphy told me before of her remembering workers employed on the building of the Barrow Bridge staying as boarders in the house.  The Bridge opened in 1906.

In the 70’s it was bought by a Londoner named Bert Almond, a gentleman, who had a holiday home on the road below beside the pub.  Bert could see the potential that others could not, but in the early 1990’s he sold it to a developer named Pat Fitzgerald, who had the skills and the cash to turn it into what it is now, a fully restored and eye pleasing family home.  It’s now the family residence of the Nevin McGuires and long may they happily reside there.

1,2,3&4 All references are taken from I was a day in Waterford edited by TN Fewer from a piece by Julian Walton called Cornelius Bolton and the Packet Service.  pp49 – 53

My thanks to my cousin James Doherty for all the new paper clippings contained in this piece.

Thanks also to Deaglán De Paor and Susan Jacob for information on the Power family.

The origins of Faithlegg

It is reputed that one of the earliest of the parishes to be
founded under the Norman system was at Faithlegg.  The lands (some 4000 acres [including 199 at
Cheekpoint and 353 at Faithlegg]) were granted by Henry II to Aleward Juevinis.  Henry had landed at Passage East in 1171.  Aylward was a merchant from
Bristol who had apparently donated a number of ships towards Henry’s imposing
entrance to Waterford harbour.  Aylward
built a Motte and Baily to secure his position and it became the centre of Faithlegg Parish, which existed until amalgamated with Crooke & Killea in the mid 18th Century.

old gates to Faithlegg House 1969.  Brendan Grogan

The name has featured widely down the ages, probably because of its strategic importance and the presence of Aylward and latterly his Bolton and Power successors.  Frustratingly however, each time it featured it seems to have had either variations of its present name, or widely different names.

These are very helpfully gathered on the Logainm website for your perusal,  Initially it seems to have been spelled as Fathelig and this name has had several corruptions.  But it has also been called BalyFalyng, Whalyng and even Thatlegg.

In equal measure with the spelling, there seems to be as many variations with the origins of the name. For  example I came across this account many years back online.  As far as I can recall it comes from the Journal of the Waterford & South East Archaeological Society.  Full account here.  The excerpt below: 

Faithlegg.-In your January number, Miss
Hickson’s interesting 
paper on (( Danish Names in Waterford
and Cork” discusses 
the probable derivation of the name ‘(
Faithlegg.” I think she
rightly assigns it to be of Gaelic and
not Scandinavian origin. Dr.
Joyce ((‘ Place Names,” Vol. I., p. 494)  Fethard (Fioth-ard) signifies (I High-wood.” In the County
Donegal there is a wellknown 
mountain called (I Slieve-league,”
which signifies (( The 
Mountain of Slates.” Following these
two clues, we make Faithlegg 
(Fioth-league)–” The Wood of the
Slates.” Anyone who has
observed the geological stratum of the
wooded hill of Faithlegg 
will at once perceive that this name,
as Miss Hickson says of Gaelic 
place-names generally, gives a perfect
word picture of the physical
features of the place, the hill being
composed of layers of thick 
slates or flags. It is not necessary, I
think, to go further for an 
explanation of the name.

I think that this account is a bit wide of the mark.  From a desk you might think it makes sense, but knowing the geography of the area and the amount of pudding stone found on the summit, would challenge it.  The slate mentioned is found on the Northside, but down towards the river on the Glazing wood side.  I’d imagine it’s related to the quarrying that went on to build the marsh embankments, than anything older.

Pudding stone, old volcanic rock on the summit of the Minaun

Br Lawrence O’Toole (responsible for the creation of the secondary school in De La Salle College) in his  “The Faithlegg Story” agrees.  He goes on to consider that Minan Fheilinn may be an origin.  The Minaun obviously which he equates with height,  but who or what is Fheilinn.  A person perhaps?  Br O’Toole also considers that it might be a Gaelic term for Woodbine or Honeysuckle.  Woodbine does grow on the Minaun presently but I don’t think anyone would say that it grows to such an extent that you would name the area after it.  Perhaps in the past?

View from the Deerpark of Faithlegg and the river

Canon Power tends towards the woodbine theory, but interestingly he also thinks that the name may not be gaelic at all!  His Place Names of the Decies here.  So is it an old danish name or the tongue of some other tribe, who settled the area in the past and left a name to posterity.

None other that John ODonovan of the original ordnance survey, and noted Irish placename scholar was of a similar opinion.  But he felt that the anglicised spelling of the placename as he found it, was closest to the original meaning, whatever it was, as listed in the older documents that he had access to.

So for now we might leave it to Canon Power who noted that “The name…has long been a puzzle, which we can only hope future investigations may solve”