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The Power of the Session

While I often attend the brilliant Friday night Fireside sessions at The Marine Bar, Dungarvan, over the past month, I thought I would try out some of the other music sessions, led by legendary session MC Joe Power, which take place in various locations around West Waterford, just to see what they were all about.

The Marine Bar - Pulla, Dungarvan

I remember the very first time I set foot in the Marine Bar, on a rainy night back in November of 2019. I was relatively new to West Waterford and had no idea what to expect. What I found was a friendly, inclusive, entertaining session, led by Joe, who went out of his way to ensure that every single person, who wanted to share a song, piece of music, or spoken word piece, was included. There was music ranging from trad tunes and 80s new romantic ballads, to traditional folk songs and songs from the 2000s. One of the best things was that Marine Bar owners Christie and Eoghan O'Neill got up and performed too.

Christy and Eoghan O'Neill in The Marine Bar

For my own part, that night I shared some of my poetry. I kept sharing poetry for the first few sessions that I attended but I was inspired by some of the folk songs I heard and within a short space of time, I picked up my guitar for the first time in 20 years and started to write my own folk songs - a creative departure which I am still pursuing almost four years later.

Honestly, that night was life-changing for me. I was in a difficult place and sitting in The Marine Bar, soaking up the music, friendliness, and brilliant atmosphere felt like being given a huge hug. I absolutely loved every minute of it and nothing has changed since.

Sessions in The Marine Bar take place every Friday night from 9pm. Eircode: X35 RR52

I had been meaning to get to The Halfway House for a very long time, and I finally made it a couple of weeks ago. What a great session I had been missing. The Halfway House session takes place in the barn of The Halfway House on the Dungarvan to Clonmel road every Sunday.

Joe Power singing at The Halfway House

The acoustics in the building are fantastic and because it's an afternoon session and not in a pub, the focus is very much on the music. The session felt relaxed and slowly grew as more musicians arrived. In the end, we enjoyed unaccompanied singing, singers accompanying themselves on the guitar, an accordion, and two mandolin players.

The diversity of nationalities was also fantastic to see. There were at least five different nationalities present and songs were sung in a range of languages. I had the opportunity to try out my new song 'Charlotte' for the first time in front of an audience and I was pleased with how it went down.

Photo by Carole Redmond

I have to say it was a very relaxed and enjoyable afternoon of wonderful music, and I'll definitely head over there again.

Sessions in The Halfway House take place every Sunday afternoon from 3pm. Eircode: E91 XE17

Murray's Pub - Helvick

This Wednesday night session takes place in the beautiful surroundings of Murray's Pub in Helvick. With views across Dungarvan Bay, which stretch to the Comeragh Mountains on a clear day, this venue is set in a fantastic location. The inside of the building is welcoming and pristine as well.

Joe Power singing at Murray's Pub, Helvick

The session itself was very relaxed and enjoyable and featured a wonderful range of music, including traditional singers, singer songwriters, singers accompanying themselves on the guitar, a viola player, a bassist, two youngsters playing an accordion and a fiddle, and much more. It was a busy and diverse session with great music.

Again, I really enjoyed the session. It was nice to bring my songs to a different audience once again.

Sessions in Murray's Pub, Helvick, take place every Wednesday night from 8pm. Eircode: X35 PN12

Thoroughly recommended

Attending these different sessions, as well as the recent Getaway session as part of the Comeraghs Wild Festival, it is abundantly clear that while they have Joe Power in common, they are as diverse and interesting as the musicians who frequent them and the beautiful venues in which they take place and Joe, who is super skilled at what he does, moulds and adapts the sessions so that they are different every time.

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