The missing Mileposts

Familiarity breeds contempt they say and so I guess that’s why, in Cheekpoint at least, not much is made of the Bolton Milepost.  But did you know there was a series of them, leading into Waterford? What were they for and where did they go? It’s a story, like the milestones, worth preserving I think.

Bolton Milepost (top of the Mount Ave)
You see although the milestone(s) might be familiar it’s also historic.  Milestones themselves go back a long way in history. The Bolton milepost has distance to the pier with the name Bolton and Cheekpoint on it – distance 1/4 Mile.  It also has the distance to the city on it – 6 and a half miles. This dates it to when the village was known (or rather renamed) as Bolton.   Bolton of course was Cornelius Bolton MP, then landlord of the area .  The rebranding seems to have coincided with the moving of the Mail Packet Station to Cheekpoint in 1785.  This was achieved with the financial and political motivation of the Bolton family. The mail packet (or mail boat) ran daily sailings to and from Ireland carrying post and passengers and the location of it in Cheekpoint created a major economic spinoff.
The station operated under a Welshman named Captain Thomas Owens, and he and his family lived at Fairymount.  It 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.
Traffic would have increased considerably into the village, as a consequence of the packet station.  To cater for the traffic, roads were widened and I imagine in some cases rerouted.  Marking the routes were a series of Milestones.  The loss of the mail packet station seems to have been the catalyst for the collapse of Bolton’s business interests.  By 1818 Bolton had sold off his home, land and interests in an attempt to pay his creditors and moved to Waterford where he died in 1829. 
As said, the Milestones marked the road to town, and conversely the road to Bolton pier or Cheekpoint quay as we now know it.  But it also marked other parts as well like Dunmore, Passage and New Geneva.  They most likely started (or finished) with the Bolton Milepost and locally I have heard that there was one at the bottom of the Bridge hill and another at Mooney’s grove.  Further towards town there was one at the now Maxol garage, which was realigned in the 1980’s and an existing one at Newtown.  Some photos of those closer to town exist:
Two photos of an existing milestone at Newtown via Eoin Nevins

Milestone from the Dunmore Road
With thanks to Michael O’Sullivan
Waterford History Group
Apparently the milestones (and all other signage) were removed by the  Local Defence Force, with the co-operation of the county council during WWII (the emergency) in case the Germans landed in the estuary and followed Strongbow in the road!   If you think that’s Irish, well the English did it too!
Eamon Duffin remembers the village milepost being recovered from the ditch sometime in the early sixties when council employees were doing some work.  After some debate and consultation locally it was determined that the present location was where it stood in the past and re-erected it.  My Uncle Sonny remembers the one at the end of the Bridge hill, saying it stood to the right of the road, at the church side of the glen road.  He recalled it lying by the roadside, covered with a layer of clay.  Pat Moran told me during the week that he heard talk of a milestone at Mooney’s grove, and he could remember the milepost at the now Maxol Garage on Dunmore road, so we speculated that there must be at least one other (given the distances) in between, most likely around the Passage Cross. 
Considering this, it might be worth trying to locate the missing mileposts.  Chances are they are flung in a ditch in various locations along the road.  Apparently one is lurking in council yard in the city, most probably the last one photographed above, which as already said was removed when the Dunmore Road was realigned.  Wonder did they extend to Passage and Dunmore?
I suppose to some they are only a lump of limestone, but for me, they give an important signpost to our heritage and history.  Although much older, here’s an example from England of how a Roman milestone has been protected and interpreted.
“Milestone kirkby thore” by Northernhenge – Own work.
Licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons –

Many thanks to the following for information and/or photos; Pat Moran, Sonny Doherty, Eamon Duffin, Michael O’Sullivan & Eoin Nevins

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