Carrick to Cheekpoint by traditional punt -Mayday Mile 2023

To support our local lifeboat station at Dunmore East my brother Robert and I rowed the river Suir this year – an estimated 25 miles. If you would like to support our efforts here’s the link to make a financial contribution. All donations go to the RNLI. When I wrote the first day’s account and published the blog update, we stood at €490. But before we set off on Sunday the donations were flowing in and as this update goes to print we have just over €800 online. We have postal and hand-delivered envelopes still arriving to add to our bucket collection, and Brian Power in the Cheekpoint Stores asked us to leave the sponsorship card in the shop until later this week, so we will update here once we have the full figure. – Update as of 17/5/2023 Just updated the online with bucket collection which incl postal donations and sales of strawberry plants by Robert. This came to €336. Update 18/5/2023. We just updated the site with the generous sponsorship from Powers Shop Cheekpoint – the figure raised there was €320. Thank you one and all. The figure now stands at €1,476. Update of June 2nd 2023. We reached the grand total of €1,571. While team Dunmore made the combined total €5,124. What a great achievement by the whole team. Many thanks to all who sponsored the events…Here’s to next year.

It’s terrible to be getting old. For the past two years, we completed the Mayday Mile by walking from Cheekpoint to Dunmore by cliff and shore. But as we both now have problems with arthritis, this year we thought a boat trip might be easier – on our joints I mean.

Now rowing a boat provides a two-fold challenge. As a person, It takes a certain amount of skill, knowledge, and resilience. But more importantly, you are also at the mercy of the river and the weather. The notion of this appeals to me. People talk about respecting the water – which to some simply means wearing a life jacket. But the river is a living entity, it breathes life, it changes in an instant and its tides and currents ebb and flow on their agenda – an agenda set down by natural rhythms, cosmic forces, and weather. There are also rocks, mud banks, sand bars, and man-made impediments. With motor power you can bend the river to your will…when you row, you must show it the utmost respect and attention in order to reach your destination. So we are channeling the spirits of all the past generations of river folk, fishermen, and lightermen who worked these waters and had a deep connection with it.

What follows is a photo diary of the journey. Day one was a glorious sunny day, very warm, but we battled a strong breeze that was against us until we got to Mount Congreve. Day two was cooler, with a northerly breeze, that helped us no end.

Carrick from the Old Bridge looking downriver, this was taken on Friday after we took the punt up by road. We launched from Carrick Beg and I enjoyed a row around especially admiring the “May Blobs” as one of my favourite authors and Carrick Beg native describes them in his book Full Tide – the great Michael Coady
L-R Conor, Brian, Robert and Maurice. Maurice has been a great help to me for several years now, always great advice, a source of photos and connections. he even contributed a guest blog on William O’Callaghan, the last barge operator at Carrick
Maurice insisted I get my head in…I try to avoid that as much as possible for obvious reasons 🙂
Setting out with a cheer from our brother Chris, his wife Sabrina and children Carragh and Cathal
Ormond Castle from the River…something I’d always wanted to see since reading a guest blog of the castle including a water gate by the wonderful Carrick legend Patsy Travers Mullins.
Another long time goal…to use the navigation cut that I have written about several times. One most recent blog which quoted the evidence of J Ernest Grubb to a Royal Commission stated that the Suir Steam Navigation Co (SSNCo) was established as an incorporated company in 1836 by an act of parliament. This company was charged with “improving and maintaining the navigation of the River Suir…” and for the construction of a “ship canal” at Carrick On Suir.  It was funded from a levy of 1d per ton on seagoing craft above Grannagh.  This canal was made by cutting a channel through limestone rock on the south side of the river just below Carrick On Suir allowing “ocean-going craft drawing 10 or 11 feet of water” to reach the town 
Conor Power photo
Two great guides are Conor and Brian…each was a fountain of knowledge on many aspects of the river. I think this was Riordan’s Gap (on the left) where a police officer waited to pounce on cot men who were pooching
Another goal – Roches Quay or Tinhalla. Apparently, the croppies and other prisoners were shipped out from here for transportation to Van Diemens land. Billy explained how before the canal cut, the lighters could only reach this quay, the cargo then being carried by road to Carrick. Conor is after pulling a few favours and we hope to visit by land soon. Although not in the photo, there was a very interesting house on the property which I later found to date from circa 1700
Had a big chat with the lads about the 15th century Tower House called Tybroughney Castle, a lot of history here to be explored by me at some future date. Apparently, it’s an air B&B…how bad. Coal Quay was another point of interest that I must return to, located in the foreground
According to the lads there’s a lime kiln here in the undergrowth – but no obvious landing area for a lighter to unload…these local guides are worth their weight in gold
The wind is freshening now as we head further down, ebb tide starting to run. Photo courtesy of Brian White
Slievenamon fades into the distance as we continue down the Suir. The Mountain of women…according to Wikipedia “The origin of the mountain’s name is explained in Irish mythology…, the hero Fionn mac Cumhaill was sought after by many young women. Fionn stood atop the mountain and declared that whichever woman won a footrace to the top would be his wife. Since Fionn and Gráinne were in love, he had shown her a short-cut and she duly won the race.[1][4] The mountain was also known by the longer name Sliabh na mBan bhFionn, “mountain of the fair women”.” Its getting time for our guides to leave. Their company will be missed, but its time to bend our backs to the task.
Morris Oil terminal and the third bridge we have passed today, Fiddown.
Rocketts Castle on the Waterford shore. Its been a tough row with the wind against us. Not much time for the camera since Fiddown. It took us almost an hour since passing Fiddown to reach this spot.
Passing down Polerone Quay where we had a great cheer from the shore from Catherine and another page follower Paul Cuddihy. Certainly helped our spirits and was much appreciated.
Finally a bit of shelter close to Kilmeaden Castle on the Greenway. We finally got a break here for a bit of grub and a cuppa tea. Mount Congreve is in sight now. And the dreaded Long Wretch – just have to keep focused on Grannagh. Didn’t get a photo at Congreve as the currents were erratic – I had been warned about this but it still came as a surprise. Got a lovely cheer from the shore from Carol O’Shaughnessy amongst others and even our brother-in-law Maurice dropped down for a chat…all helps with the motivation.
The old jetty at the now closed Paper Mills…our father worked there for several years, and I remember him bringing home comics that he had lifted from a shipload of magazines that were unloaded from a chip here for recycling.
Spotted this as we passed…as I explained to a very underwhelmed brother this looks like the remains of a small quay. Sure enough, I found it later on the OSI…although there was no road marked for it so more digging as to its purpose is required on my part
The Historic maps are a national treasure. The G here is for Gracedieu…Looking forward to trying to see if I can get anything further on this feature
Grannagh Castle…a welcome sight at this hour of the evening
T F Meagher bridge
Blackwater River or Pill…I’m working on a blog about this important location…well when I say working on thinking about it and plan a trip up it this summer
The Red Iron – or the Suir Railway Bridge…we are sore all over at this point, but I am enjoying the scenery now, even if there is a distinct whiff of urban industrial decay….and some clowns are burning a tyre ashore! Robert actually asked me about the bridge – and I tried not to go off on one, but I probably told him more than was necessary.
Industrial heritage building! Gouldings fertiliser plant
Finally..our last bridge of the day, Rice Bridge Waterford and almost home for the evening. 18.46pm a heck of a long day
Our last stop of the evening, a welcome beverage and an even more welcome last 15 minutes of the Leinster V Munster match…what a result Munster!!! Looking forward to a shower and bed now. Next phase tomorrow

Day two – a cooler day with northerly winds. We said we would wait until 3pm to depart as it gave the rain a chance to clear and the ebb tide to start flowing. We had a lovely send off from the city pontoons, with family and friends. Although our minds are willing our bodies are aching – so the encouragement is all the more welcome. A darker day, so although I had more time for photos, I didn’t get as many.

And away we go, with shouts of encouragement from Catherine, Geoff, Carmel and others from the Plaza. Photo courtesy of our cousin Jim Doherty
A good ebb tide flowing, but cold in the wind. Photo Jim Doherty
The entrance to Johns Pill or Johns River, I’ve been working on a blog for some time now – but it turned into a chapter of a book after I walked along it with Cian Manning, and now I probably have enough for a new book. I’m also thinking of doing a walking tour of it over the summer – although I don’t know that there would be that much interest in it. I’m well aware that my interests attract a niche audience.
Heading out of the city now, and on the Kilkenny side, this navigation light is an area known on an old chart as Smeltinghouse Point. I’ve promised myself to find out more about this placename
The Cove – a popular pooching spot for Cheekpoint drift netters back in the day
Now coming down the Ford channel between Little Island and Co Kilkenny- as I explained to Robert, dynamited and excavated on at least 3 occasions to ease access to the old Port of Waterford. I’ve a blog drafted, but never got round to completing it. You can see the ebb tide running a fair knots strong on the port navigation bouy. On the Kilkenny shore we would have Prospect House on the left and Springfield House on the right.
Fitzgeralds Castle on the Island.
The end of the Ford channel (it is marked as Queens Channel on some charts, but we never called it that, so I won’t be changing any time soon) O Brien Cement works mark the upper end of the new port, the area here was and is known as Belview after the house of the same name. It translates as the Beautiful View. It certainly was in the old days no doubt, but progress has turned it into an industrial site now, albeit with great views
The ruins of Bellevue House. It features in my walks around Faithlegg, because of the Power family connection
Looking across the Ford now to the Guide Bank Navigation light, the Ballycanvan estate in the background, the old house now in ruins. The area is close to Jack Meades, the occupied Woodlands House is in the trees.
Belview, Port of Waterford, and the Arklow Coast is coming alongside. We have to hold on here, as we don’t want to interfere with shipping. After about five minutes we realise it is not coming up any further and we can resume our row. Never, ever, get in the way of shipping. Drilled into us as children, but I saw a chap in a pleasure boat block the channel below Cheekpoint last year as he came upriver – seemingly totally unaware that a container ship was behind him – despite the loud blasts of the ship’s horn
You might just make us out on this photo just off O’Briens. Our journey has taken us from Waterford today down the Kilkenny side of the Island and we are only two miles from home at this point. Thanks to Alison Flannery for the photo.
Tied up now, and I think that is Seamus Healy supervising from the wharf. He’s retiring today (Sunday 14th May) from the Port. He has taken some great videos in recent years of the Port activities
Glasshouse, Co Kilkenny and the lower end of the port, for now. Plans are afoot to expand down. There was an old quay here, the remains of some fine steps are still on the shoreline, beyond is the ruins of Glasshouse Mill or Kennedy’s Mill and behind that is the belching chimney of Smartply
Close to home now, the Minaun and Deerpark sweeping down to the river, the Faithlegg Marsh at its feet.
Wilson Avonmouth inbound, again we had to stay close to shore to stay out of its way.
Another feature to be avoided in the lower Suir, an old ebb weir, now just a sad collection of rotting timber poles, but once a vibrant fishing “fixed engine”. I think we called this the Mill Weir, as it is located just off the old mill race. Just below it lies Snow Hill Weir, also derelict, but a few poles still stand
Home sweet home – the meeting of the three sister rivers, the Suir we have seen, the Barrow and Nore flow under the Barrow Railway Bridge. Maybe we might explore those next year if we are alive. Photo – Alison Flannery
Thank God for that…Arrived safely at the new Cheekpoint Pontoon.
Photos courtesy of Carol McGeary
The shore team 🙂 L-R Deena, me, Mam (who had just put away the rosary beads), him, Ciara his better half and Kate our sister who had a homecoming planned but we got there too early. The closest we came to a wetting over the weekend was when she doused us in holy water before we headed to Carrick.
Thanks to Carmel Jacob for the photo above and below
with Mam, cousin Michael Murphy, and my godmother Elsie Murphy. We asked the two ladies if they wanted a row out “we did enough of that in our youth” they replied

I’m indebted to my brother Robert for helping me with this…I can’t think of anyone else who would be up to the task or have the patience to listen to me. Thanks to Conor Power of Carrick for the assistance and support, and in particular his knowledge of the snap net fishery. Brian White for the wonderful discussion about placenames, history, and nature. To Maurice Power who helped me arrange the Carrick layover and was so generous with his advice on the trip and our itinerary. My thanks to Brian and Daniel Power who allowed us to put a sponsorship card in the local shop, and Bridgid who went out of her way too to promote it. To Carol McGeary who helped with the online donation page and so much more to help to promote the fundraiser. Thanks to Johhny Codd at Waterford for looking after us on the layover. To David Carroll who provided two guest blogs to promote the row, and the Mayday Mile. To Pat Moran, with who we would not have made it at all. He helped to get the punt out of the water and towed it to Carrick for the trip. Finally to everyone who sponsored the trip, which although a personal challenge, it was really about raising money for the RNLI. We owe the lifeboats a great deal, this is our small contribution to such a worthy cause. Much obliged to you all.

Pat bringing us up to Cheekpoint.

Our Mayday Mile event in photos 2022

We completed our Mayday Mile event – Cheekpoint to Dunmore by Cliff and Shore – in aid of our local RNLI station at Dunmore East on Sunday, May 22nd, 2022.

Although the day dawned overcast and damp by 11 am the cloud was lifting and the walk proceeded in a fresh SW breeze but an increasingly sunny and pleasant day. The aim, of course, was to raise funds for the local lifeboat by the end of the evening we had gone past the €1000 mark which was really something.

Thanks to everyone who supported us on the way to everyone who donated. Big thank you to Carol McGeary for the technical support. To David Carroll for such great research and the Geoff Harris of WLR FM for a welcome interview to promote the walk and the fundraiser. And of course, the team who made the day happen. Remember, the Mayday Mile continues for the rest of the month and many of our teammates at Team Dunmore East RNLI would still appreciate your support. Oh and we will still have one further blog to celebrate the lifeboat this coming Friday.

Myself and Conor Donegan plotting the day ahead. Conor is doing the Mayday Mile as another member of Team Dunmore and his page is here. I’m not sure how Damien felt about his holding the bucket this year, but Conor did a great job – he was certainly not shy about reminding people about donating. Conors mam Carol had brought along the RNLI flag which Robert was to carry for the day. Which was actually harder than it looked given the wind.
The Hurthill, looking downriver – sky continuing to lighten thankfully. Photo courtesy of Conor Donegan
Passage East Co Waterford with Arthurstown Co Wexford in the distance
Damien Mclellan gives us a few thoughts on his theories of Medieval Pilgrimage and the Landing of Henry II. Both of which have featured on the blog previously. How much better this photo would be had he remembered his RNLI teeshirt from last year 🙂
Damien concludes with a blessing of the deconsecrated St Annes Church – only joking obviously
After a welcome pit stop at Burkes shop in Crooke, Breda Murphy takes over as guide and shares some stories of the area including the placename of Johnny’s Lane.
And we are away again, at this point Conor and I started talking history, books, publishing, and projects…I completely forgot to take any photos from here to Woodstown!
And magically we are next at our welcome lunch stop at the Saratoga Bar on the beautiful Woodstown Beach. Deena texted to say that we had made the midday news on WLR FM – just a reminder to keep an eye out for us and drop a few bob in the bucket – very supporting and much appreciated
A nice surprise and a bit of craic with the lads from Dunmore East Coast Guard who wished us well on the final leg. Photo courtesy of Ger Condon. Margaret Barry has just checked in on our progress – making some preparations for our arrival at Dunmore East.
A look back over Fornaght beach or Fórnacht – According to Canon Power from a Completely Bare (Hill).
Finally Dunmore East is in view
Passing Killea or Cill Aodha – Aodh’s Church. The present Holy Cross Catholic church is from the early 19th century and what a view…and thankfully downhill too. I must admit although relived to be at this point, I’m finding the going much easier than last year -the weather certainly has helped
A good sign to say I’m not too tired at this point to appreciate the new signage – a bit of class I must say
Sunday Market at the Haven was in full swing – time is moving on, however so we will have to leave it till next time to browse.
Damien admires the view (or taking another rest perhaps) Anyway he has a captive audience -although Ellen has other thoughts it seems. Deena is just about to interject with a point of order!
Finally a lovely welcome after completing the walk for the lads at the Lifeboat Station where a cup of tea, sandwiches and cake was as welcome as a seat to rest on. Photo courtesy of Neville Murphy.
My brother Robert with Margaret Barry and Anne Smyth on the left, hands over the bucket that had been placed in the Coffee Dock of Sanofi this past week and which raised almost €200. Much appreciated it was too and thanks to the company for facilitating it and the staff for the support.
The route as laid out by Conor Donegan
And what a surprise when we got home to receive a lovely gift from Julie at the Cake Dame pop up bakery, the only problem was that the crew had dispersed and I had to eat a lot of it myself 🙂

Will we do it again next year? Watch this space! Oh and please remember you can still donate to Team Dunmore East throughout May and into the first week of June.

Dunmore East 1889: Prince George of Wales and the Royal Navy have a ’jolly time’ ashore.

As part of the RNLI Mayday Mile fundraiser, author David Carroll returns this week with another fascinating insight into the history of the Dunmore East RNLI. You can donate to the Dunmore East Mayday mile page here. David is the author of numerous guest blogs on this page and of course, Dauntless Courage, Celebrating the History of the RNLI Lifeboats, their crews and the Maritime Heritage of the Dunmore East Community.

On May 2nd, 2013, Dunmore East RNLI Station was honoured to receive a visit from His Royal Highness Prince Edward, Duke of Kent. The Duke has been President of the RNLI since 1969. He succeeded both his father and his mother as President of the charity and in this role, he has provided unwavering support to the RNLI for over 50 years.  He has been a true advocate and ambassador for all RNLI volunteers, and he has regularly visited lifeboat stations and attended many RNLI events throughout the United Kingdom and Ireland. Many people would have imagined that this occasion would have been the very first visit by a member of the British royal family to the Dunmore East RNLI station. But as we shall read, this was not the case.

May 2nd, 2013 – Coxswain Michael Griffin, Dunmore East RNLI checks the life jacket of Prince Edward, Duke of Kent before boarding RNLB Elizabeth and Ronald.  Photo: RNLI / Neville Murphy
March 13th, 1951 – Central Hall, Westminster – Coxswain Paddy Billy Power, Dunmore East RNLI chatting to the Duchess of Kent, mother of Prince Edward, at the presentation of a bar to his bronze medal for the rescue of the crew of the fishing boat St Declan on December 14th, 1950.   Second Coxswain Richard Power of Dunmore East also received a bronze medal.  Coxswain Edward Kavanagh of Wicklow was another recipient of a bronze medal at this ceremony. The three Irish lifeboatmen presented shamrock to the Duchess.    
Photo: John Aylward

Sifting through an old minute book, held in the Dunmore East RNLI station archives, one can find the annual report for 1889 and it records that Prince George of Wales was in Dunmore East on August 28th, 1889, on naval duty and paid a visit to the station. So, Prince Edward, Duke of Kent was not the first royal visitor to the station as most people would have expected.

Born in 1865,  during the reign of his grandmother Queen Victoria, Prince George of Wales was the second son of Albert Edward, Prince of Wales, and was third in the line of succession to the British throne behind his father and elder brother, Prince Albert Victor.  In September 1877, when George was only 12 years old, he joined the cadet training ship HMS Britannia at Dartmouth, Devon, along with his older brother, Albert Victor. From 1877 to 1892, George served in the Royal Navy. During his naval career, he commanded Torpedo Boat 79 in home waters. Later he commanded HMS Thrush on the North America and West Indies Station. In 1891, when Prince George of Wales was promoted to commander, he assumed command of HMS Melampus. He relinquished his post in January 1892, on the unexpected death of his elder brother, which put him directly in line for the throne. On Victoria’s death in 1901, George’s father ascended the throne as Edward VII, and George was created Prince of Wales.  On his father’s death in May 1910, he became King George V until his death in 1936. He was the grandfather of Queen Elizabeth ΙΙ.

HMS Melampus commanded by Prince George of Wales, 1891-92. It later served as a guardship in Kingstown (Dún Laoghaire) and visited Waterford in 1904. Photo:  Cormac Lowth

When King Edward VΙΙ visited Waterford on May 2nd, 1904, HMS Melampus was one of four Royal Navy warships that steamed up the harbour to the city to take up stations in advance of the royal visit. (Please see: 1904 Waterford Royal Visit from the River Suir.’ ).

1889 came just one year after the four-masted American sailing ship Alfred D Snow was sadly lost with all hands at Broomhill on the Wexford shore of Waterford Harbour on January 4th,1888.  The lifeboat In Dunmore East was pilloried for not putting to sea earlier. Launching the lifeboat was delayed and by the time it reached the wreck, all hope of saving lives had gone.  An inquiry was carried out, resulting in the coxswain Captain Christopher Cherry being sanctioned.

Subsequently, it is probably fair to say that Lieutenant Tipping RN, the RNLI Inspector in Ireland, was closely monitoring the performance of the station.  It is not surprising that the 1889 Annual Report is written in such a positive and upbeat fashion.  The report contains the following:

“Four practices of Boat and Crew were held during the year. At one of them, on August 28th, the Inspector (Lieutenant Tipping, RN), was present; and on this occasion also His Royal Highness Prince George of Wales, who happened to be in the harbour with his torpedo boat, visited the Boathouse. The Coxswain (Mr George R Wood) has given much satisfaction both in his care of the House, Gear, and Stores, and also by his steadiness and zeal in time of danger. The Committee are glad to report that the Crew are much improved and working well and harmoniously together, and that if called on at any time, day or night, every man will do his duty.”

RNLI Annual report 1889

I suspect it was considered a good idea to give Prince George a mention in the report. It certainly would have done no harm when the report landed on a desk in London. The art of ‘spinning’ good news is therefore not a recent phenomenon.

The RNLI lifeboat station at Dunmore East, visited by Prince George of Wales on August 28th, 1889. Photo: A Private Collection

Coxswain George R Wood was a fisherman from Tenby in Pembrokeshire, South Wales, and was appointed coxswain after the loss of the Alfred D Snow in 1888. He was replaced by a member of HM Coastguard, George Bliss in 1892. It is most likely that he returned home to Tenby at that time. 

In a supplement to the Waterford Mirror and Tramore Visitor, published on Thursday, August 22nd, 1889, the arrival of Prince George in Dunmore harbour on the previous Monday, was extensively reported upon. The actual visit to the lifeboat station by Prince George would have taken place when the torpedo boats returned for a second visit. The report began as follows:


The unexpected arrival of his Royal Highness at Dunmore on Monday evening created quite an interesting surprise. The flotilla of torpedo boats were scarcely observable until they steamed right alongside the quay. They entered the bay at a rate of seventeen knots an hour, and from their dark grey colour and partial submersion in the water, they could be hardly discerned, although it was a beautiful, clear evening, and just then about ten minutes past seven o’clock. There were six boats altogether, the seventh one, as already mentioned, having been left at Queenstown for repairs. Each boat carries a lieutenant commander and a crew of from 16 to 18. Although the boats do not look larger when in the water than a ten-ton steam launch, their actual registered tonnage varies from 90 to 150 tons each. When partially submerged, there is nothing seen but the ‘tower,’ a circular structure about 14 inches in diameter, which is used for look-out purposes.

Machinery is provided on board for giving a continuous supply of compressed air, and the various apparatuses for condensing water, firing the deadly torpedoes, and working the vessels at a high rate of speed when submerged are most intricate and elaborate. The boats that arrived on Monday are known as No 79 (of which his Royal Highness has command), 25, 41, 42, 50 and 59. Amongst the first officers to land was the Prince. He wore the ordinary uniform of a lieutenant of the Royal Navy, and of course, was not then recognised. He was followed by the commodore of the flotilla and several lieutenants, who walked through and spoke to the fishermen and others whom they met. On returning to the boats an order was given that all available men should have ‘leave’ until eleven o’clock. The blue jackets to the number of about a hundred immediately came ashore, and at once sought how the evening could be best enjoyed.

Mr Harney’s Hotel where the sailors from the Royal Navy enjoyed a ‘jolly time’. Photo: UK 3800 by kind of permission of Waterford County Museum

Mr Patrick Harney’s beautiful new hotel was first visited, and the bulk of the men remained there until the time arrived when their leave expired. They spent a jolly time of it, music both vocal and instrumental, being freely brought into requisition. When darkness set in, some of the men left in charge of the boats laid on the search light, which produced a sterling effect on the town. It was first directed to Mr Harney’s house, and by its brilliant rays, the number of seamen in each room, the blinds being up, was ascertained. Next it was laid on to ‘the Island,’ where it was brought bear on two ‘jolly tars’ who had managed on short notice to strike up an acquaintance with a pair of Dunmore lassies. Their discomfiture was quite palpable as they were ‘shown up’ to all who were in the neighbourhood of the dock. The quartet were exhibited with the vividness of a scene thrown on a screen by the aid of the limelight, all the surroundings being dark. The embarrassed victims of this clever joke tried to escape but it was no use. Every step they took they were followed by the powerful search light, until at last, in despair, they separated and found shelter from the rays of the light. In this way, those on board of the boats found an easy method of amusing both themselves and the others who were fortunate enough to be allowed on shore.

‘The Island’ – where two ‘jolly tars’ and a pair of ‘Dunmore lassies’ had a searchlight shone upon them! Photo: A Private Collection

The newspaper report continued at length and referred to the beautiful scenery that Dunmore presented and how His Royal Highness and his naval colleagues were entranced by it.  Mr. Harney, proprietor of the hotel gets considerable coverage, and his conversation with Prince George, who ordered stores for the flotilla when it would return to Dunmore in about a week’s time from Kingstown (Dún Laoghaire).  For good measure, the reporter included a paragraph about Lord Charles Beresford, or ‘Charlie B’ as he was affectionately known. Lord Charles (1846-1919) was the second son of John Beresford, 4th Marquess of Waterford, and was an admiral in addition to being a member of parliament.  Much later in his naval career, he was thwarted by his nemesis, Admiral of the Fleet, Sir John Fisher, from his ambition of becoming First Sea Lord.

 The newspaper report finally concluded as follows:

Within a week the flotilla may be expected to return, and if the seamen’s genial qualities are not exhausted in the metropolis, and that any of the convivial spirit which they showed at Dunmore on Monday night remains, their visit once more will relieve the tedium of the dull Dunmore evening.

The visit was not just newsworthy in Waterford. On Thursday, August 15th, readers in Scotland received coverage of the events in Dunmore under the title ‘AN INCIDENT OF THE NAVAL MANOEUVRES – TURNING THE SEARCH LIGHT ON.’

Our walk takes place this coming Sunday 22nd May 2022. More details here!

Midnight Mercy Mission – Dunmore East Lifeboat 1953

As part of the RNLI Mayday Mile, this year author David Carroll has agreed to join our team to help promote and fundraise for our local station at Dunmore East. Our 22km walk takes place on Sunday 22nd and over May we will have a number of lifeboat-related blogs. You can donate here at the Mayday mile page. Today David relates a story of a mercy mission that typifies the work of the RNLI and a story that he had yet to finalise before the publication of his remarkable Dauntless Courage, Celebrating the History of the RNLI Lifeboats, their crews and the Maritime Heritage of the Dunmore East Community.

Easter Sunday in 1953 fell on April 5th. The weather was very unkind, and the Munster Express reported that the few visitors in the area were compelled to seek the pleasures of the fireside. The newspaper reported that the recent rainfall had proved to be a blessing for local farmers as the ground had been parched.  Disappointment was expressed that a local-bred horse called Free Lancer, supported by many local punters, had a very unsatisfactory outing in the Irish Grand National on Easter Monday. This was offset, somewhat, by the news that local jockey Jimmy Power had won at Manchester Racecourse on Saturday, riding Mosten Lane at 9/2 odds.  Closer to home, a successful and well-attended dance was held on Easter Sunday in the Fisherman’s Hall, Dunmore East with music provided by Frankie King and his band. An Easter Dance held in the Haven Hotel was also reported as being enjoyable.

As the fishermen of Dunmore East put back to sea and others in the village returned to work on Tuesday, April 7th, after the Easter break, little could they expect the dramatic event that would later unfold.

At 10.45 pm, Mr. Arthur Westcott-Pitt, Honorary Secretary of Dunmore East RNLI received a wireless message stating that a passenger on board the SS Corrientes, of Glasgow, was seriously ill with a perforated stomach ulcer and asking if the lifeboat would land him.

By 11.10 pm, in a moderate south-westerly breeze, Dunmore East lifeboat RNLB Annie Blanche Smith (ON 830), had slipped her moorings and was on her way and set a course to intercept the steamer, which was proceeding to Waterford Harbour about twenty miles due South.

RNLB Annie Blanche Smith, (ON 830) stationed at Dunmore East 1940 – 1970. Photo: Courtesy of RNLI

The seriously ill passenger was Captain More, a harbour master from Leith in Scotland. The SS Corrientes was on a voyage from Stockton, California to Liverpool, traveling via the Panama Canal.  The Waterford Standard newspaper reported that Captain More had been ailing for the last three weeks and within the last few days his condition worsened, and medical advice has been transmitted to the vessel by wireless from ashore.

At midnight, the lifeboat reached the steamer, about seven or eight miles from Dunmore East.  The same newspaper went on to report that when the lifeboat came alongside, a member of the crew asked Mr. Westcott-Pitt to come on board and see how tenderly the ill man could be lowered from the vessel.  With much difficulty, the sick captain, secured to a stretcher, was lowered to the lifeboat, which returned at full speed to Dunmore East, where an ambulance, doctor, and nurses were waiting to rush him to Waterford City and County Infirmary. Captain More and his wife, who came ashore also on the lifeboat had spent a six-months holiday in New York.

Waterford County and City Infirmary, where Captain More was rushed by ambulance. Photo: Courtesy of Waterford City and County Archives.

The lifeboat returned to Dunmore East at 01.10 am. Mr. Westcott-Pitt reported that the patient had been transferred to hospital, within 90 minutes of the lifeboat reaching the SS Corrientes. The crew of the Annie Blanche Smith for this service was as follows: Paddy Billy Power, coxswain, Richie Power, second coxswain, Richard Murphy, mechanic, M Whittle, second mechanic, and crew members, J Power, Maurice Power, and A Westcott-Pitt (Hon. Sec.).

Paddy Billy Power, Arthur Westcott-Pitt (Hon. Sec.), and Richie Power.  Photo: John Walsh

The SS Corrientes was a 7,058 GRT, a refrigerated cargo liner that had been built by Short Brothers Ltd, Sunderland and launched on December 21st, 1943, and completed in April 1944 as Empire Cromer. The Empire ships were a series of ships in the service of the British Government. Their names were all prefixed with Empire. They were owned and used during the Second World War by the Ministry of War Transport, which contracted out their management to various shipping lines. In the case of Empire Cromer, it was the Blue Star Line.

In 1946, Empire Cromer was sold to the Donaldson Line, Glasgow, and renamed Corrientes. This was the second ship of that name to serve with Donaldson Line. This previous vessel was torpedoed and sunk in 1940.

The Donaldson Line was originally founded in 1855 under the name Donaldson Brothers, the company began service from Glasgow to South America using a wooden barque. Over the years, many changes and acquisitions took place and new routes were served as the company developed. In 1966, Donaldson stopped their last passenger service, and in 1967 with the advent of containerisation, the company was liquidated, and the fleet sold.[1]

SS Corrientes. Photo: By kind permission of City of Vancouver Archives. Ref. code: AM1506-S3-3-: CVA 447-4113. This photograph is from the Walter E. Frost fonds. Built by Short Brothers Ltd, Sunderland, launched on December 21st, 1943. The ship was 431 feet 0 inches (131.37 m) long, with a beam of 56 feet 3 inches (17.15 m). She had a depth of 35 feet 2 inches (10.72 m), and a draught of 26 feet 9 inches (8.15 m). She was assessed at 7,058 GRT.[2]

This lifeboat service on April 7th, 1953 was not the only association that Mr. Westcott-Pitt would have with Captain More and his recovery to full health.

Many people, nowadays, may not know that in the years after World War ΙΙ, Dunmore East had its own small aerodrome in Coxtown, which was developed, owned, and operated by Mr. Westcott-Pitt. The land is now occupied by the Airfield Point and Shanakiel estates. In the early part of World War ΙΙ, Mr. Westcott-Pitt had flown with the Air Transport Auxiliary (ATA), a civilian organisation tasked to deliver new and repaired aeroplanes to the RAF. In 1946, Mr. Westcott-Pitt resumed his private flying activities. He purchased an Auster Autocrat airplane and during the 1950s and 1960s, it was a familiar sight to local people as it flew over the village.

On Saturday, April 18th, 1953 the Dunmore East aerodrome was to play an important part in Captain More’s safe return to the United Kingdom.

Arthur Westcott-Pitt in his Auster Autocrat aeroplane.  Photo from the Patrick J Cummins collection, Courtesy of Mrs. Maura Cummins

An article entitled: ‘Arthur Westcott-Pitt: Waterford’s Aviation Pioneer’, by Patrick J. Cummins, appeared in Decies, No 66, in 2010.

The following news item appeared in the Waterford Standard, issued on April 25th, 1953:

“There was considerable excitement in Dunmore East on Saturday afternoon last when a special ambulance plane arrived from England to take back Scots harbour master, Captain More, who had been lying seriously ill in the Waterford City and County Infirmary since he was taken from the SS Corrientes by the Dunmore lifeboat on April 7th. Still seriously ill, Captain More, accompanied by Dr W O’Keeffe, was taken by ambulance to Dunmore, and I am told, such was the timing, that the air ambulance flew in to land at Mr. Arthur Westcott-Pitt’s airfield at almost the same minute. A doctor and nurse were on board the air ambulance, and in a few minutes Captain More was being winged across the channel, to, I hope, a speedy recovery.”

What became of the SS Corrientes?

 In 1954, Corrientes was sold to the Blue Star Line. It was intended that she would be renamed Oakland Star, but instead, she was declared surplus to requirements and in January 1955, Corrientes was sold to Williamson & Co Ltd, Hong Kong, and renamed Inchmay. On 3 April 3rd,1962, Inchmay ran aground at Wakayama, Japan. There were no injuries amongst her 45 crew. In 1966, Inchmay was sold to the National Shipping Corporation of Pakistan, Karachi, and was renamed Kaukhali. She served until 1968 when the vessel was scrapped.[3]

I wish to thank Coxswain Roy Abrahamsson at Dunmore East RNLI for allowing access to the station records and to historian Cian Manning for his help with access to local newspapers of April 1953.

The report of the service may be accessed on this link to the RNLI Archives:

If you would like to support our efforts to raise funds for the Dunmore East Lifeboat this May you could use the following link to donate




Mayday Mile 2022 in aid of RNLI Dunmore East

The Mayday Mile is a major fundraising initiative of the RNLI. 150 people drown in UK and Irish waters every year. And this summer, thousands of people will get into danger by the water. Ordinary people enjoying days out with family or friends. It happens so easily, and it could happen so easily to one of us or to someone we love. Locally we also have the terrific resource of the rivers and sea, fishermen can be at risk, sailors and other boaters.

Donate here!

The RNLI are determined to be there when they’re needed most. Usually, RNLI lifesavers answer mayday calls and go to rescue others. But, this May, it’s them who are asking for OUR help

The dream team with some young supporters cajole us those last few miles.

So in order to support our local lifeboat station at Dunmore East, a group of us are planning to walk from Cheekpoint via the old coastal tracks and seashore on Sunday 22nd May a distance of 22 KM. The core of the crew is my family and friends including my brother Robert, Damien McLellan and Breda Murphy who along with myself Andrew Doherty will chat as we walk about the rich heritage and maritime lore of our area including stops at Hurthill, Passage Hill, Crooke, Woodstown, Fornaght, Creaden, Killea and finally Dunmore East. My wife Deena will be our driving support. 

If you would like to join us for any of the walk at any stage of the day you will be more than welcome.  All donations will go to the RNLI.  To get a sense of the journey, here’s the walk we completed last year.

I’d give us money! If only to go away 🙂

And building on last year we will also have some RNLI-heritage related stories which will be published on my blog throughout May courtesy of David Carroll, highlighting the importance of our local RNLI station and what it means to the community.

What the fundraising is all about! RNLB Agnes Wray departs for training on a bleak and stormy Sunday morning last October.

We are doing this as part of the Dunmore East Team – for more details or to donate to the wider team find the details at this link

A warm welcome from the Dunmore East Lifeboat crew in 2021. Photo courtesy of Neville Murphy