I was lucky enough to have been raised at a time when regattas were a big event in Cheekpoint. Families came from upriver and down, and it was a day of races, fun and camaraderie in the village. Helping out with the organising, I would often hear tales of the older regattas and they brought to my mind a colour, drama and excitement that filled the river before me.
Recently I came across the following news report printed in the Munster Express of the 7th August 1909. My own clarifications to the piece are included in brackets [ ]. Names of boats are italicised. In describing the boat crews; the expressions used at Stroke = stern oar and which others follow, 3 = third thwart, 2 = second thwart and bow = forward thwart. Cox is giving orders and steering. Some editing I felt was also required.
|The Waterford Steamship Company's river Ferry PS Ida with a crowd of day|
trippers heading to an event photo by Andy Kelly
via Poole Collection posted on Maritime History page
President-P.M.Power [Pat Power, Landlord at Faithlegg House] JP., D.L. Committee. W.J.Kenny, R.W.Morris, W.F.Peare, H.E.Benner, E.Murphy, Capt. Farrell [Harbour Master], J.B.Wallis, P.Heffernan, J.Heffernan, P.Butler. Hon. Sec. and Treasurer-C.E. Beames, C.E
This annual event took place on Monday last at the picturesquely situated harbour-side village of Cheekpoint, in magnificent weather. A very interesting programme was arranged, and the attendance was larger than we have seen at any similar re-unions at Cheekpoint. The Waterford and Duncannon Company's new steamer (presumably the SS Duncannon) made two trips to the scene of action, and carried large complements of passengers on each occasion, and the private pleasure launches-including those of George Nolan and Mr. W.E. Peare- also on board a number of the owners friends. Of the fourteen events numbered on the card three of them fell through for want of entries; but the remainder were well filled, and keenly contested. Details are appended:-
|MV Reaper as a flagboat at Cheekpoint regatta of 1980's|
Second Class Yawls, not exceeding 26 feet over all. First prize £4; second, £1; third, 10s.
1st Maid of the Green - William Doherty, Cheekpoint; 2 Kish - James Heffernan, do; 3 The Holy Terror - Pat Heffernan, do. Maid of the Green eventually proved herself the fastest boat, winning comfortably from Kish with the Holy Terror a good third.
Third Class Yawls, not exceeding 22 feet over all. First prize, £3; second £1
1st Kate (John Doherty); 2nd Green Wave (Andrew Doherty); 3rd William (Matt Doherty)
Ladies' Pair Oared Punt Race (one gentleman allowed to either row or steer) Prize value £3.
1st, Invicta - The Misses Fleming, Great Island and Heffernan (Cox)
2nd, Lily - Mrs Hennebry, Ballinlaw (Stroke) Miss Hennebry, do, (Bow) P. Hennebry (Cox)
3rd, Eily - Mr T.W.Brewer, Waterford (Stroke) Miss McCarthy, do (Bow) AN Other (Cox)
This was a most interesting contest in which four boats competed.
|Mary Fleming, Mary Sherlock and a n other from Great Island|
with a medal they won in 1913 for rowing
photos courtesy of Mary's grandson Liam Fleming,
1st Exile - James Heffernan (Stroke) Andrew Doherty 3, Jim Doherty 2, James Barry (Bow) W Power (Cox)
2nd Intacta - P.Delahunty (Stroke), P.Sullivan 3, P.Hearne 2, J.Walsh (bow), M.Maher (Cox)
This was a capital race, and both boats were splendidly handled. On the pull down river against the tide, the boats kept close together but Exile got first round the mark. She increased her lead slightly on the run up past the flag boat to the upper buoy, and on the race down again to the flag boat had the issue well in hand, eventually winning by four or five lengths.
Pair Oared Punts. (No Coxwain allowed) First Prize £2, second, 10s
1st Osprey (New Ross Boat Club)P.Hawe and T.Sullivan, Blackrock.
2nd Atalanta - J.Delahunty and J.Walsh do.
3rd Invicta - P.Hennebry and Watt Hennebry, Ballinlaw.
The Osprey on the inside station had the advantage of the slack tide, and got best away, but there was little between all three at the lower mark. Coming back with the tide, however, the Osprey came away and won by three lengths; a couple of lengths separating second and third.
Four Oared Yawls, boats not confined to any length. First prize £3,; second, £1
1st Success (Passage) -John Nugent (Stroke) Thomas Organ 3, Pat Connors 2, J.Walsh (Bow) M.Veale (Cox)
2nd Salmon (Ballyhack) - P.Barron (Stroke), M.Foley 3, J.J.Whitty 2, J.Slattery (bow), M.Foley (Cox)
The Passage crew pulled off a ding dong race by about two lengths.
Cheekpoint Yawls. First prize, £3, second, £1
1st. Maid of Erin - Pat Mahon (Stroke) Larry Mahon 3, James Nugent 2, James Whitty (bow), M.Mahon (Cox)
2nd, Heron - John Hanlon (Stroke), Mike Walsh 3, P Duffin 2, James Hanlon (Bow) P.Heffernan (cox)
Also competed:- William - Matt Doherty, (Stroke), James Heffernan 3, Philip Hanlon 2, Andrew Doherty (bow), M.Walsh (cox) Won by a couple of lengths, a similar distance separated second and third.
Pair oared Praums[Prong], (no coxswain allowed) 1st Prize £2, 2nd, 10s.
1st - Annie (Ballinlaw) P.Hennebry and M.Walsh
2nd - Wave (Cheekpoint) Jim Brownock and Matt Furlong
3rd - Nellie (Cheekpoint) L.Mahon and P.Mahon
Won by a length and a half, and a couple of lengths between second and third.
Pair oared Praums for boys under 12 years old. 1st Prize £1, 2nd 10s
1st D.Murphy and W.Heffernan, Cheekpoint
2nd Thomas Ferguson and P Curran do
Also competed P.Kennedy and Pat Moran Cheekpoint. This was a very amusing race and only only the winning boat finished the course, Ferguson and Curran having fowled a yacht on the course
Model Yachts. First Prize £1.
Only two yachts competed, viz, those belonging to Mr.George Nolan Jnr, and Mr. M.E. Shalloe. lower Newtown. Mr. Shalloe's boat won easily.
Tug-of-war between Four-oared Boats belonging to Ballyhack, Passage and Cheekpoint the latter putting in two crews. In the first heat the boats competing were Emerald (Ballyhack) - P.Barron, (Stroke) M.Foley 3, J Whitty 2, J.Slattery (bow) J Foley (cox) and Seagull (Passage) P.Hennessy (Stroke) M.Pepper 3, P.Foley 2, J.Newell (bow) M.Burke (cox) In the second heat the two Cheekpoint crews opposed each other, viz Maid of Erin -P.Mahon (Stroke), L.Mahon 3, James Nugent 2, James Whitty (bow), M.Mahon (cox) and William - James Barry (stroke) James Heffernan 3, Matt Doherty 2, Andrew Doherty (bow) Phil Hanlon (cox)
|A restored William under sail with Matt "Mucha" Doherty RIP|
Photo courtesy of PJ O'Shea
This was the best contested and most exciting pull of the series. [No detail was given about the contest between the Passage and Ballyhack men in the piece] Maid of Erin eventually got foul of the flag boat, and in the confusion that ensued was pulled over by the crew of the William who thus got the verdict. The final pull was therefor between the William (Cheekpoint) and the Emerald (Ballyhack), and it was thought that the issue would be well contested. After about three minutes however, some misunderstanding occurred among the Ballyhack men and they allowed the Cheekpoint men to pull them over almost without any resistance.
The Inshore events which followed were greatly enjoyed by the spectators. They included greasy pole climbing, duck hunt, swimming contests etc. Taken all round the sport was very good."
The account above reflects a scene that tallies with the stories I was told as a youngster. In naming the characters, the areas and the boats it underlines that the fact that in the past the river was a vibrant interconnecting entity that brought the villages and the towns on the rivers together in a way that modern society has clearly failed to maintain. The regattas I experienced were all too fleeting. Insurance, as I recall was a major issue. In the meantime I feel the rivers have become a sewer for public waste, denuded through national policy of the fishermen, and a struggling entity commercially. However this piece does bring to mind some of the excitement and energy of the parade of sail for the Tall Ships festival of 2005 and 2011. Such events underline the potential and what a wonderful space the harbour is.
Unfortunately the name of the writer was not included in the piece that I found, if anyone could identify same I'd appreciate it.
* A Poole commission (for a Mr. O'Leary) of a rowing four with coxswain. Possibly captured at the end of the season with the spoils on display. The trophies appear to be displayed on an old sewing machine, and though perhaps not as impressive as previous rowing crews, were no doubt hard-earned! Is it my imagination, or a trick of the slope, but are the two inside oars shorter than those on the outside? via National Library of Ireland twitter page
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