Living histories turned into musical memories
A WEXFORD man, who has been living in foreign parts for more than 20 years, was back in the town recently to record living histories from people at Kerlogue Nursing Home which he then put to song.
Simon Power said that when he was living in North Caroline, in the USA, he began playing Irish music in nursing homes and became fascinated by the people who told him their histories, which he wrote lyrics for and put to music.
'I'm home every couple of months and thought I might do some here.. so when I came over in January and I did the interviews, went away and worked out the songs, then it was into the recording studio and then I handed the results back to the families,' Simon told this newspaper.
He said three residents at Kerlogue Nursing Home had taken part - Nicky Lacey, Sadie Burke and Mary Kendrick.
Nicky, he said, was of a generation of workers from the town who flocked to England to work for the Morris Motor plant in Cowley - his song 'Wexford's Wild Geese of Steel'; Sadie Burke's father ran the horses for the bakery deliveries at the then O'Connor's Bakery and has lovely memories of those days gone past - her song 'The Whiff of the Bread Dizzies My Head', and Mary Kendrick, whose husband Sam was in the British Army in Aldershot, whose song is 'Now the Grass Grows on Aldershot's Rows'.
'It was exciting for the people and their families who sat in on the interviews,' said Simon, who currently works for an IT multinational in the UK, and worked in Gabon and Holland before heading to the USA after leaving Wexford.
Simon, the son of Margo Murphy and Jim Power, said the songs usually took him several days to complete.
'Hearing all their stories, I wish I had done the same with my own grandparents,' he said, adding that the songs were written exclusively for the people involved and were not part of a compilation.
'Kerlogue wanted them to be done in their rooms individually. The families came down and it became multi-generational,' said Simon.
Simon, who used to sing in Wexford when he lived in the town, hails from St Patrick's Square and will no doubt be back recording his very special pieces of Wexford's history in the not too distant future.