Thanks Tom,

Backslash escape character did not work but following the cheetah manual 
and enclosing the variable in brackets did.  

<a href="NOAA/NOAA-${monthYear}.txt">$monthYear</a>

Might be useful for other people too.

On Sunday, 18 February 2018 18:35:18 UTC-8, Tom Keffer wrote:
> Try putting a backslash in front of any special characters. You probably 
> just need it for the dollar sign.
>      <a href="NOAA/NOAA-\$monthYear.txt">$monthYear</a>
> The guide to Cheetah syntax is located here 
> <>. If you're going 
> to work with Cheetah much, it's well worth going through. There are lots of 
> goodies in there!
> -tk

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