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Anthony Power (1904–1980)

Nlresize Anthony Power
Anthony Power, ca. 1975 (photo courtesy of Aidan O’Hara; used with permission).

Born on 4 September 1904 in Branch, Anthony Power is remembered as a great entertainer. He could sing and dance, and he had a gift for storytelling—especially ghost stories. His parents, Joe Power (of Branch) and Esther Tobin (of Ship Cove), were the source of many of his stories and songs.

On 3 September 1951, Anthony married Mary Nash, whom he’d met at a dance and who was a great storyteller in her own right. Together they performed on many occasions in St John’s: at the Folk Festival in Bannerman Park, at Memorial University, and in the LSPU Hall. They also travelled to Ontario in 1977 to perform at the Mariposa Folk Festival, sharing the stage with several other Newfoundlanders from the Cape Shore. More locally, they performed in concerts and at house parties. Their home was a frequent site for songs, stories, and socialising.

Anthony Power and friends at the 1978 Newfoundland Folk Festival / Aidan O'Hara
Anthony Power and friends at the 1978 Newfoundland Folk Festival / Aidan O'Hara
 
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Anthony Power and friends at the 1978 Newfoundland Folk Festival / Aidan O'Hara

Relaxing at the 1978 NL Folk Festival, from left to right: Anthony Power, Virginia Ryan (née Preston), Lucy Nash (née Connors), and Mary Power. Photographer Len Penton (right) stands chatting with Ron Felix (left) and an unknown woman in the background.

Anthony Power and friends at the 1978 Newfoundland Folk Festival / Aidan O'Hara

Anthony Power and friends at the 1978 Newfoundland Folk Festival / Aidan O'Hara

© Aidan O'Hara

Anthony worked as a fisherman and a farmer throughout his life, raising cattle, sheep, chickens, and a horse on his farm. Like many of the men from the area, Anthony also went away to work as a logger in the lumberwoods of Central Newfoundland when he was a young man. Later, he worked at the American military base in Argentia when his children were young.

Anthony and Mary had seven children, two of whom passed away at birth. Their son Tony continues their tradition of storytelling, and their daughter Carolann Lyver is a singer. She still sings one of Anthony’s songs, “When the fields are white with daisies.”

Anthony passed away suddenly on 10 January 1980.


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Bungle Rye / Anthony Power

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Bungle Rye / Anthony Power

Bungle Rye, song (As I went a-walking a fair London Street …) This early 19th-century broadside ballad is a warning about the dangers of female wiles. The protagonist is tricked into paying 20 shillings for a basket that he thinks contains a bottle of liquor. Instead it contains a baby, whom he christens John Bungle Rye.  In many versions of this song, the phrase “Bung yer eye” appears instead of “Bungle Rye.” Indeed, Kenneth Peacock includes this song in Songs of the Newfoundland Outports 3, under the title “Young Bung-’er’eye,” noting that “bung-yer-eye” is an old sailing term for strong rum or hard liquor (1965:895–6).

Golden Bay / Anthony Power

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Golden Bay / Anthony Power

Golden Bay, song (In nineteen hundred and twelve, my boys for Golden Bay set sail …) Composed by brothers Henry Nash (Sr) and Bernard Nash who fished together in Golden Bay, this song describes a whaling expedition that left Branch in 1912. The crew caught a whale, but it rotted before they could sell it for the thirty pounds in gold that they expected to receive.  Henry Nash (Sr) was the father-in-law of Anthony Power, who performs the song here. 

The bonny bunch of roses / Anthony Power

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The bonny bunch of roses / Anthony Power

The bonny bunch of roses, song (I overheard a female talking …) The lyrics of this ballad take the form of a conversation between Napoleon Bonaparte’s widow and his son. She warns her son of the danger of challenging England, Ireland, and Scotland—the bonny bunch of roses—and the folly of attacking Russia.  Anthony’s version omits some of the lines that clarify the relationship of the characters, but the singer compensates by rearranging the order of the verses to create a coherent narrative. Most notably, the characters of Napoleon and his son are merged. Historically inaccurate, the song tells a tale of military expansion, of resistance met, and of the ultimate defeat of the invading forces by the opposing allies.


Biographical Information

Courtesy of Carolann Lyver