THEY ARE THE buzz words at the moment - The Gathering. The Government is at it. The Tourist Board is kicking the same can down the road. The varied sporting bodies are at it - it was only a matter of time before the family dynasties got in on the act.
Statistically the most common, in the sense of used surname, in the land, is Murphy. Not too far behind is the name of Power. In this county alone, every parish, crossroad and byway (the name is used to identify actual crossroads, such as Power’s Cross or Power’s lane) is named after some Power or other.
And then we come to people of high note.
How many great hurling Powers for instance have you heard mentioned?
I venture that the name John T. Power, that famed hurler from Piltown, has slipped by your memory pods. How many more can you add to that one?
My Sports Editor wouldn’t even contemplate affording the space to list even the more famous ones, and that would only be in the GAA. What about the Powers that were great racing people? Then you would have to think about rugby, soccer, golfing, etc.
I’m quite sure that if you riddled your brains you would think of many Powers that were leaders in many other fields - the list is impressively extensive.
A famed Kilkenny author and former club and county hurling star, Senan Cooke from Kilmacow, and an academic acquaintance, Michael Power, head up the enterprise starting on the May Bank Holiday weekend, with registration procedures at Dunhill Castle at midday on Friday May 31.
Talking to the chairman, he was absolutely hot on the whole Power Clan gathering.
“Everyone in the land could roll off a litany of famed Powers,” said Michael. “There is solid evidence for instance that the iconic Tyrone Power had traced his origins back to Kilmacthomas. “How many times since its creation would the expression ‘a small Powers’ have been directed towards bar keepers the world over? If I had a penny every time I heard lads talking about having a punt with Paddy Power, whose father, Richard, originated in Tramore, I would solve the National debt.
“Then you can talk about Seamus and Ned Power who donned the Deise blue and white for a distinguished number of years on the hurling year. And sure didn’t ye have great hurlers in Kilkenny like the Richie Powers, and John Power to name but a few.”
Incidentally, if we caused some mental deliberation about the Tyrone Power lad, you are probably of an age that could not remember the former Hollywood star with the jet black hair, porcelain looks and the swashbuckling swagger. He was one of the great stars of film, sharing the celluloid stage with the likes of Marlene Dietrich, Charles Laughton, Gene Tierney, Jimmy Stewart, John Wayne, Marilyn Monroe and Charlton Heston.
A son of Kilmac, a story Michael was proud to relate.
The weekend will be a celebration of location, origin, family, sense of belonging, and status. It will be where cousins will meet with their more acclaimed siblings. There will be much to talk about, and plenty to reflect upon.
When I first encountered this idea in conversation with Senan Cooke, I blithely reflected that here was another family get-together, that will tickle the interested party’s buds for a short spell, and then when all the excitement has been milked dry, the concept will fade into the dying embers of a good idea at the time and extinguish.
Somehow or other, as more information comes online, one feels that the seed of a good idea is germinating at a fast rate. So fast indeed that as I write it is mushrooming like an Icelandic ash cloud.
Instance the launch of the Powerclan Gathering in London.
On March 15 at the Tattersall’s Castle barge at Victoria Embankment, there was an evening of craic and chat where members of the greater Power establishment gathered. With the London Eye glowering down on the Barge, a fine number of the Clan were in attendance.
Not to be upstaged from any dimension, Dr Wally Kirwan, a member of the Steering Group, visited the Canadian city of Toronto for a three-day stint of promotion, and information. He hosted a Clan party in the iconic P.J. O’Brien’s Pub on Colborne Street, which again met with a very significant response.
Just before St Patrick’s Day, another member of the Steering Committee, Eamonn Murphy, was a guest of Joe Duffy. Eamonn too was memorably impressive when discussing the Gathering with the equally impressed Joe.
As I said, they are turning over the stones around South Kilkenny and Waterford!
Whilst reading an article on the American Civil War recently, I encountered a Governor of Mississippi, called Ridgley C. Powers.
Now therein lies a great story about a lad, born to Milo Powers and Lucy Ann Dickinson, fighting on the Republican side, and rising to the rank of Colonel. He ran a cotton plantation in Noxubee County, and became Governor of Mississippi.
In all reason, can you not see this Governor of an American State, with a father called Power, and a mother called Dickinson not have some connection with the Carrickshock GAA club, or the Dunhill Club?
I don’t think the Governor will be there in May, but you wouldn’t know - there might just be a distant relative...
David ‘Dave’ Powers was a son of a Cork emigrant, born in Boston, and a special aid to John F. Kennedy. He was in the cavalcade on that dreadful day when Kennedy was assasinated in Dallas.
We could traipse through history and find countless references to the greater Power dynasty, but let’s get some notion of what the Power Clansmen coming, will encounter.
The entire event is centred around Dunhill, for the simple reason that Dunhill Castle was the centre of the Power Universe at one time. History will tell you that during the Cromwellian Invasion, the Anglo Saxon invader laid siege to Dunhill Castle, owned by the De La Poer family. The Mistress of the castle and her men at arms resisted with ferocious courage and determination every Cromwellian effort to dislodge them from their stronghold. In fact, poet, Tom Power wrote:
Cromwell came and did lay siege - he attacked and attacked again,
But each attack was bravely met by your mistress and her men;
around your grounds and ramparts the sound of sword and gun.
After many days of battle they had Cromwell on the run.
But then disaster struck and all because of a drink,
no, not the alcoholic kind, but a keg of buttermilk
On March 31 the Power Clan will assemble in the shadow of Dunhill Castle for registration purposes, and the entire weekend will take on a life of exploration, lecture, feasting, music, dance, river cruising and much more.
The famed Tramore Race Meet of the April Bank Holiday will be an option for many, while a battle re-enactment will be organised to commemorate the strife between the Waterford Powers and the Cork O’Driscolls on Tramore Beach.
On the opening night a special banquet will be provided in a specially-built marquee under the awnings of Dunhill Castle. A lecture on The early History of the Powers in Co Waterford, given by historian Julian Walton, will provide a backdrop to a night of dining, music, dance and craic, where all will be welcome, irrespective of clan name.
Every Power family will be asked to plant an ash tree under the Dunhill Castle ruins during the Gathering.
Saturday will be spent touring Power Country, including Hook Head, Tramore, Dungarvan and the battle re-enactment on Tramore Beach.
Sunday will see people touring Tire Phaorach, encompassing visits to the Copper Coast, Lismore, Dungarvan, An Rinn, and Gardenmorris, the former Power Family home in Millenium Hall. A wonderful barbecue is also on the agenda, which will be augmented with singing, dancing, comedy acts, storytelling, and other artists. The proceeds from this particular event are being donated to the Waterford Hospice unit.
The attendees will all assemble in the most famous of the Power homes, Faithlegg Hotel on Monday, where the geneology of the Clan will be outlined by Tony Hennessy. Lunch will follow. Yet another Power Trail is being organised after lunch, while the evening will be available for those wishing to go to Carrick-on-Suir for the very entertaining Clancy Brothers Musical Festival celebration.
The final day of the entire weekend (Tuesday) features Waterford City where walking tours of the City, a visit to Waterford Crystal and a meeting with the Mayor of Waterford in the Granville Hotel are all part of the agenda.
It all sounds exciting and very professional. For more information regarding costs and accommodation, see the website www.powerclangathering.com
I am well aware that it is centred around the Waterford area, but it is quite obvious from historical investigation that the vast Power family, in all probability, started in the South Kilkenny/Waterford areas. There are a lot of you around the place!
There would appear to be a greater expected Power presence once you all get shaking, and making at the end of the month.
Just thought I might remind all of you Powers about your heritage and history with another verse of Tom Power’s poem about Dunhill Castle. Many of you would have passed it, not recognising the location of where it all began for thousands of you:
In this peaceful valley now the song birds sweetly sing,
The river Ann flows gently by the ruined castle of Dunhill;
And if you pass this way, going to Annestown or Tramore,
As you gaze up at castle you might see the Mistress De La Poer;
Is that her wandering there, where she fought and died so proud,
Or perhaps it’s just a trick of light, the shadow of a passing cloud.