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The Legend of Joe Power

Updated: Sep 6, 2023

We recently released Episode 5 of The Musicians' Hour with Jo Bell on Community Radio Youghal, which featured Joe Power as the guest.

It was a privilege to have the opportunity to interview Joe - a Dungarvan legend, who organises open music sessions all around West Waterford. Joe has a passion for music which is all consuming, and he is someone who encourages people to get involved in his sessions, which are always inclusive, interesting, and thoroughly enjoyable.

Joe Power performing

I first came across Joe's sessions in November of 2019, when a friend invited me to The Marine Bar in Dungarvan, one Friday night. I had no idea what to expect, but it proved to be one of the most wonderful, and most interesting nights out of my life. Joe welcomed me to the fold immediately, offering me the chance to share some of my poetry. The people present were friendly, taking in my work and sharing their own. There were poets, trad musicians, unaccompanied musicians, and, of course Eoghan and Christy O'Neill of The Marine Bar itself astonished me with their brilliant guitar skills and singing. Attending that session was like being given an enormous hug, and I was immediately hooked.

A Fireside Session in The Marine Bar

It was attending the Marine Bar Fireside Sessions that inspired me to pick up my guitar again after 20 years and work hard to improve my playing. That led to me writing 'When The Knockmealdowns Thaw' - my first song, and now I have a number of songs to my name.

Now, back to Joe. If you are ever fortunate enough to have the time to sit down with Joe, you will discover that he is someone who has a wealth of experiences and knowledge connected to music. He has hundreds of songs memorised , which he pulls out and performs to suit the mood of a moment within a session. In addition to that, he knows the backgrounds and origins to those songs and has the ability to fascinate you for hours.

As part of Dungarvan Tunefest, Joe released a book of collected memories, songs, photographs and artworks from his life and from the music sessions. 'Honey Talk Before Strangers' is a work of art in itself. It includes two CDs of Joe singing and reciting spoken word pieces. You can order the book from Joe himself for €50. Please email me if you would like a copy and I'll put you in touch with Joe.

'Honey Talk With Strangers' by Joe Power (PHOTO BY JO BELL)

Joe's appearance on 'The Musician's Hour' was brilliant. He shared some of his influences, including Nioclás Tóibín and Hans Hotter. He sang a range of songs live in the studio: some unaccompanied, and some with accompaniment from Kay Wolf on the concertina and the fiddle, and Richie Power on the guitar. Their rendition of 'Hard Times' was particularly magical.

You can listen to the podcast of Joe's appearance on 'The Musician's Hour with Jo Bell' here.

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