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Ellen Emma Power (1893–1983)

Nlresize Ellen Emma Power1
Ellen Emma Power (photo courtesy Kelly Power; used with permission).

Ellen Emma Power was born on 14 May 1893, one of 11 children born to James Nash and Ellen Carew of Branch. She was the great-great-granddaughter of Thomas Nash, who founded Branch in the late 1700s. Thomas’s journey began in Kilkenny, Ireland, and he found his way to Branch, St Mary’s Bay, the place that Ellen Emma called home.

From an early age, Ellen Emma was surrounded by those who had a passion for singing and for holding on to their Irish roots. Ellen Emma sang in church choirs and in concerts for her local community, but most of her singing was done purely for enjoyment at home or in the houses of neighbours.

She married Joe Power of Branch; they had six sons and one daughter. Through the years, her grandchildren witnessed Ellen Emma and her sister, Ethel, sing beautiful songs together at Ethel’s house. As she got older, she liked to watch live performances of singers on television. She would clap her hands to the beat and smile. Her passion for all things Irish was immeasurable. Ellen Emma’s love of singing is carried on through her grandchildren, great-grandchildren, and great-great-grandchildren.

On 25 January 1983, after a three-year coma due to a stroke, Ellen Emma passed away at Placentia hospital at the age of 90, surrounded by her family. It was her request that, upon her death, her daughter, Lena Power-Nash, would sing a hymn for her. As Lena started to sing “Nearer my God to thee,” Ellen Emma opened and closed her eyes for the last time.


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Siúl a ghrá / Ellen Emma Power

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Siúl a ghrá / Ellen Emma Power

Siúl a ghrá, song (Oh I'll go up in yonder hill …) Ellen Emma Power introduces this song as simply, “an Irish Song.” It tells the story of a woman whose lover has gone to France; she is left behind to wait for his unlikely return.  Though the Irish language had died out in Newfoundland by the early 20th century, certain words and phrases persist as evidence of the strong linkages between the two islands. In Ellen Emma Power’s performance, the pronunciation of the Irish words is phonetic only; the meanings of the words have been lost. 

Bells of Shandon / Ellen Emma Power

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Bells of Shandon / Ellen Emma Power

Bells of Shandon, song (With deep affection and recollection, I often think on those Shandon Bells …) This song was composed by the Rev Francis Mahoney (Father Prout, 1804–1866). In this nostalgic song, the protagonist remembers the sound of the church bells being rung in St Anne’s Church, Shandon, Co Cork.

Just before the battle, mother / Ellen Emma Power

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Just before the battle, mother / Ellen Emma Power

Just before the battle, mother, song (Just before the battle, mother, I am thinking most of you …) Composed by George Frederick Root, the sheet music for this song was originally published in Chicago in 1863. It was quite popular during the American Civil War, particularly among Unionist soldiers. 


Biographical Information

Biographical note written by Theresa Nash McGrath (granddaughter).