a traditional fishing village 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 they drain an area of land second only to the Shannon. The Suir 114 miles long, and the Barrow 119 miles long, (the Nore joins the Barrow
above New Ross) combine beside Cheekpoint and create the estuary that flows out
to the Atlantic.
|Meeting of the Three Sisters. Photo via Anthony Rogers
Cheekpoint was reputed to have a settlement of Ostmen
(Vikings) in the distant past. It was
also of strategic importance to the Normans.
The first references to a quay date from the time that the Mail Packet
Station moved to the village. The Station was created in Cheekpoint
in 1785 by local landlord Cornelius Bolton. 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. Several ships were employed on the
service and it was run by a Welsh Quaker, Captain Thomas Own. The station operated until 1813, when it was
moved further down river to Passage and then to Dunmore East in 1824. The
present quay was constructed in the 1870’s, as was the lower quay breakwater, and
both have seen several upgrades and additions down the years. More about the quay here.
|Cheekpoint in 1960’s photo by Martin Power via Déaglán De Paor
The Barrow rail bridge was for over 100 years the
connection that linked the SW of Ireland via Waterford to Wexford and Rosslare
port. It is 2131 feet in length and
consists of 13 fixed spans mounted on twin 8 foot diameter cast iron
cylinders filled with concrete. 11 spans are 148 feet long and the two
closest the opening are 144 feet. Because the port of New Ross is
above the bridge and an opening span had to be added at the deepest part
of the river channel. The railway is a single track steel line, built
within the protective casing of a mild steel girder frame with cross trusses.
by a Glaswegian firm – William Arrol & Co. Both men were responsible
for some of the finest engineering constructions worldwide, of their age. The winning bid was £109, 347 and work had
commenced by June of 1902 and was opened on the 21st July
1906. The bridge served its purpose
until Saturday 18th September 2010 when the last commercial train crossed
It has several distinctions as a bridge; it is the longest
railbridge in Ireland and it was also the last major rail line to be
constructed in Ireland and the bridge the last major piece of infrastructure.
Previously we covered the planning and construction of the bridge, its opening and eventual closure.
There are now two Power Stations across the river at
Cheekpoint at Great Island. The station
on the left is a redundant oil burner. The
building of the station started in 1965 and the first phase was finished in
1967. A second phase and chimney was added by 1972. The
chimneys are 450 feet high and are almost as high as the Minaun. There were 5 storage tanks on the site each
holding 17,000 tons of oil, which was delivered via oil tanker ships. At it’s height the station employed up to 70
people. The most recent station is gas
burning and its set to open this month, November 2014. The
gas is delivered by pipe and the new station is said to have a lifespan of 30
years. The entire site is believed to be
over 170 acres of land.
A distinctive factor in the Cheekpoint fishery was the use
of fishing Weirs. An example of which can be seen above the main quay. The
weirs originated with the coming of the Normans in 1170 and since that time
were responsible for much of the fish caught in the area, either directly or
indirectly. They could provide year
round fishing. Weirs could be used under
licence for Salmon fishing, for white fish in autumn and winter and also a
source of bait for the summer Eel fishery.
river mud to sleep. They emerge when they decide it’s warm enough and
feed voraciously. This feeding frenzy suited the fishermen well who used baited
pots to capture them. The Eels had to be kept alive prior to their sale,
and were exported live to the Netherlands. The buyers would arrive on the
quay with their water tanks on the back of trucks and the fishermen first
weighed the eels and then loaded them into the tanks for export. The village has a unique distinction in that it still has a
number of weirs in operation. This is
unique not just in Ireland but also in Europe and most probably the world.