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Culture Night at the Marine Bar

Friday 22nd September was Culture Night across Ireland and to mark the occasion, West Waterford Arts Group teamed up with Joe Power and The Marine Bar, to put on a cultural extravaganza of music, song, art and poetry.

The night opened with original poetry from the West Waterford Poets, who delivered a wonderful and varied selection of their own original poems to an engaged audience. The poetry was compered by Cristín Mann, who did a fabulous job. We heard poetry from Alan Murphy, Cristín Mann, Brigitta Hughes, Helen Flynn, Joe Kelly, me, Kevin MacAlan, Pippa Sweeney and David Ryan. The poetry was of such quality and delivered so well by every poet that it really held your attention. I have to say, the outstanding moment for me was when Joe Kelly brought out a chainsaw as part of his performance. Brilliant!

The West Waterford Poets in order of performance (Photos by David Ryan and Vicky Day)

For my own part, I read three poems: Aerophobia - a comic poem about my struggle to get over PTSD and a crippling fear of flying, Intrusive Thoughts - a Pantoum I wrote recently, which gives an insight into the repetitive and circular nature of intrusive thoughts, which delivered laughs in the very darkest parts of the poem, and finally, The Ballad of Lismore Conor - a comic love story.

My own performance (Photo by David Ryan)

The poetry section of the evening was closed by the inimitable and brilliant Joe Power, who delivered two beautiful performances, which included a soliloquy from Shakespeare's Richard III.

Joe Power delivers his performance (Photo my own)

Thereafter, Eoghan O'Neill of The Marine Bar brought food around to all of the tables, which was very much appreciated, and Joe Power took over the hosting as he led his regular Friday Night Fireside Session.

Joe Power sitting among session goers, while Eoghan O'Neill performs (Photo my own)

At that moment, the atmosphere became even more electric and many of the poets pulled out instruments and sang and played along with the musicians and singers and regular session-goers, while some of the West Waterford Poets and other poets who were present also participated, sharing their poetry. I sang my song 'Ever Wilfred', with the brilliant Richie Power playing alongside me. There were so many session participants that it took around two hours to get around the circle for the first time.

Christy O'Neill and Ruaidhri O Luanaigh perform (Photo my own)

Joe Kelly and Brigitta Hughes perform (Photo by Cristín Mann)

David Ryan performs (Photo my own)

Alan Murphy performs (Photo my own)

A very busy Marine Bar (Photo my own)

The icing on the cake was that all this cultural merriment was set against the backdrop of beautiful patchwork artworks by local textile artist Lesley Bell, and felt images by West Waterford Poet and local textile artist Pippa Sweeney, all of which enhanced the cosiness of The Marine Bar's familiar fireplace with a wonderful splash of colour and creativity.

Lesley Bell's quilts adorning the Marine Bar fireplace (Photo my own)

Pippa Sweeney's felted pictures on display (Photo my own)

All in all, it was everything we had hoped it would be, and much, much more: a cultural extravaganza for Culture Night and on a personal note, I would like to thank the rest of the West Waterford Arts Group committee for all their work in organising the event, our poets, musicians, singers and textile artists for so enthusiastically sharing their work with the crowd, Joe Power for his collaboration with us and for his vision of an open session which embraces all art forms, and Eoghan and Christy O'Neill of the Marine Bar for always facilitating West Waterford Arts Group's meetings and events, for welcoming us, and our guests into their brilliant pub, which is one of the friendliest places I have ever been to.

If you would like to join the West Waterford Poets, please visit West Waterford Art Group's website or follow them on Social Media.

Joe Power's sessions take place in the following places:

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