is located 7 miles downstream from Waterford City. It has been an important
navigation point for the ports of Waterford and New Ross as it is located at
the meeting point of the three sister river network, the Barrow, Nore and Suir.
Between them the drain an area of land second only to the Shannon. The Suir 114 miles long, and the Barrow 119
miles long, combine beside Cheekpoint and create the estuary that flows out to
the Atlantic. Employment
in the village historically was tied to its riverside location. The principle source
of employment was the fishery, with related activities including shipping,
pilotage, and port works. Most of this activity centred around Cheekpoint Quays.
I would imagine that the present Main quay was constructed around the time that the Mail Packet Station moved to the village. The Lower Quay was probably a later addition. The Station was created in Cheekpoint in 1785 by Cornelius Bolton (the younger). Cheekpoint Quay would have been the point of departure for all mail, including some freight and passengers, from Waterford to Milford Haven in Wales during that time. The station operated until 1813, when it was moved further down river to Passage and then to Dunmore East in 1824. With the coming of steam driven ships, the station as finally moved to the city around 1837.
Years ago Christy Doherty of Marian Terrace told me a story of a paddle steamer calling at the quay and he as a nipper hoping aboard and with his family heading downriver to Duncannon for a fete. Christy said paddle steamers regularly called to Cheekpoint quay and he likened it to a modern day bus stop! Initially I thought he was spinning me a yarn. This photo proves otherwise.
|Paddle Steamer at Cheekpoint c 1899
photo courtesy of Tomás Sullivan
|The village in the 1970’s
The prong, a barrel shaped boat, is unique to the area. It was renowned for its ability to be launched across the mud flats which are in abundance here. Its curved bottom allowed it to slide effortlessly across the mud and into the river, at even the lowest of tides. The timber punts of old are slowly being replaced with plastic, but some examples still remain. These are well worthy of retaining as are the skills of making, repairing and maintaining them.
season began on Feb 1st and continued till Aug 15th.
Using drift-netting, (and perhaps some draft netting) at its height it would have
employed up to 30 punts with a two man crew in each. On Saturdays the nets were hauled out and crews would stand around the quay “ranging them over” and mending holes caused by fast swimming fish or from snagging fouls in the river while drifting.
|net mending in Slade 1970s
from Billy Cofers (RIP) book – The Hook
methods of fishing which took place from the quays here included trawling, a two
man activity using the larger yawls (previously sail boats but motorised from
the 1940’s. The preferred method was a beam trawl, though the otter board method
was also used. My lasting memory of trawling is with my father and uncle John. We had been “dragging” for a few hours and “hauled up” to see what we had caught. I don’t remember anything other than a very large conger eel that day. It trashed about in the net and when it finally got free it slithered about at a tremendous rate all around the deck of the boat. I remember standing on the gunwale while the two men battled to bring it under control and heave it over the side. The purple skin, dark eyes and slimy residue all left a bad image of this particular fish on me, one that still remains.
herring fishery began in November and could extend up to February. This
required the Yawls, later motor boats, with a crew of initially four, but latterly three, and was a drift net fishery also.
There was a Spillaring or long lining activity that perhaps has a long history in
the area and this could be practiced from autumn to early spring. This employed
the punts or prongs and targeted bottom fish such as cod. Shell fish gathering
would have also been important, dragged up or picked directly from the rocks.
|Blessing of the boats 1930’s