Last weekend there was a homecoming of sorts to Cheekpoint. Members of the extended Condon family, the offspring of Mary Doherty and Larry Condon who married in the first decade of the last century, had a gathering in the village. I was asked to come to one event and lead a walk onto the Minaun and to the old school house. It culminated in a party on Cheekpoint Green where Mary was born and it was a weekend the village will surely remember for many years to come.
|My Father Bob, in the 1950's. The Doherty homestead is on the|
green surrounded by a low whitewashed wall
|Larry, middle row on left, circa 1930's|
Photo: Anthony Rogers
As a young sailor the now Captain, was part of a crew on an Atlantic run. In a ferocious storm the spar on the main mast broke away, but remained connected to the ship via some of the rigging. Pitching and rolling in heavy seas, every time the ship healed to port the spar careered into the starboard and with each impact the timbers weakened. The captain and crew looked on helplessly. To climb the rigging in such seas was madness, and yet unless the spar was cut away, it would breach the side and in the conditions they wouldn’t remain afloat. Suddenly Larry ran for’ad and leaped from the ship onto the rigging and slid down along it to the tangled spar.
While Larry hacked away at the ropes with his knife, he watched for the crashing waves and the inevitable collision against the ships side. With each impact he had to cease work and grasp the spar with both hands. Several times his ship mates thought he was crushed, or washed away, but each time he emerged, his determination showing no ceasing. Finally the ropes were cut away, but as the spar was swept astern, with it went Larry into the depths of the surging Atlantic. As he disappeared astern a length of ships rope, thrown by the captain, landed atop of him. Miraculously he managed to catch it and hold it, and with it the crew hauled their saviour aboard.
Mary and Larry set up home at number 3 the cottages (in the past some called it the street) Indeed it’s worth recalling that the six cottages that run down to the village quay would probably not be even there if it were not for the couple. When Mary was to be married she went to her employer and asked if he would build them a house which they would then repay via a weekly rent. Pat Power, the then landlord at Faithlegg agreed. Land belonging to Larry at the cross roads was earmarked, but on work commencing, several others approached the landlord with a similar request. He went back to Mary to explain, and told her that to accommodate everyone, he would build a line of houses, but that she could have the first choice. As far as I'm aware they had 6 children. 2 girls, Eily and Bessie and 4 boys; Liam, Larry, Jimmy and Christy.
Eily and Bessie lived locally. Larry died aboard ship in the Indian Ocean in 1950. Jimmy, who anyone in the area will know was a crewman on our beloved Portlairge, also went to sea. Jimmy was passing through the Panama Canal one day when he spotted his fathers ship coming against him. He sang out to inquire if Larry Condon was aboard, that it was his son was asking. A deckhand was seen running and moments later his father arrived at the ships side. They had a brief chat to catch up, both walking towards the stern no doubt, to maintain this fleeting encounter. They hadn't seen each other in two years, and it would be another year before they actually met each other in Cheekpoint.
|The six cottages, probably the 40's or 50's|
|Eily (left) and Bessie (Rt) with Kathy Barry in the centre |
early 1990's on a Thursday Club outing to Mellery
Photo: Bridget Power
Christy was set up in the job by his brother Laim. Liam had come in from a cold, wet and fruitless night of fishing with my grandfather in 1946 and spotted an advertisement in a local paper for a new engineering firm British Timken in Northampton. He was interviewed in a hotel in Waterford and was given the job on the spot, He was foreman by the fifties and he helped Christy find his feet in the same company, and with the job he kept the family fed and earned enough to put a deposit on a home.
In the summer of 1955 he returned and the family readied themselves for the journey. They were living at the time where the cottage bistro is now situated. The children were all part of the community, went to school, to mass, played on the village green, swam off the quay. Steps of stairs, they were part of the vitality of the community. The decision to leave was a huge wrench. But as big as it was for the family, it’s often those that are left behind that perhaps feel it more.
|Christy in later years, chatting to Jim Doherty on left and|
big Patsy Doherty on right. Photo: Anthony Rogers
|The Great Western, inbound to Waterford from the |
|a small section of the gathering 17/9/2016|
My thanks to Larry Condon, Pat Condon and Anthony Rogers and his sister Rosalind in compiling this article. All errors & omissions are my own.
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