THERE WAS A huge turn-out at the funeral last Thursday of the well-known Wexford musician Joe Monaghan.
Joe, of Larkfield, Tottenham Green, Taghmon, died unexpectedly at Wexford General Hospital in the early hours of Christmas Eve following a brief illness. He was 56 years old.
His passing caused deep sadness to his family and his many friends and fans throughout the county.
The guitarist and singer who also played the saxophone started out at the age of 13 making his mark first in Tops of the Town competitions.
He became big news locally when he auditioned for Hughie Greene's 'Opportunity Knocks' on British television with a group called 'The Young Folk'.
He became a professional musician at a young age, touring the U.K. with the prominent folk group The Kinsellas while still in his mid-teens.
When the tour ended, he stayed in Birmingham and played a residency at the Boundary Club.
He returned to Ireland and played extensively all over the country, supporting Christy Moore for a number of years.
Christy even came down to do a memorable gig in the Oak Tree pub in Foulksmills when Joe and his wife Cora were the proprietors.
Joe also performed for summer seasons in resorts and hotels in Tenerife, Majorca and Cyprus.
During the 1980's and '90's, he did a solo tour in Chicago and Philadelphia and performed in Stuttgart, Germany up to recently.
He accompanied the late, legendary harmonica player Phil Murphy for special performances on Irish Ferries' inter-continental vessels.
About six years ago, he toured the southern states of America with Phil's sons John and Pip Murphy, both harmonica players following in their father's footsteps.
The trio performed in iconic venues in Nashville and appeared on stage with the famous country star Vince Gill. They also entertained on the General Jackson, one of the Mississipi steam boats.
Joe even performed for pilgrims in Lourdes, accompanying the Ferns Diocesan Pilgrimage on a number of occasions.
If there was a worthy cause, he was never found wanting. During the former annual Day of Nostalgia in Taghmon, he contributed to the fundraising effort for St. Patrick's Special School in Enniscorthy where Cora and his daughter Joanne both work.
Joe released a few albums including Moonlighting and All the Roadside Stops. His version of Cuchulann's Son is still remembered by many.
The popular performer had a good sense of humour and would customise many songs by throwing in a few Wexford colloquialisms.
During his funeral Mass in St. Garvan's Church, Carroreigh, the hotelier and former Wexford hurling manager Liam Griffin delivered a tribute in which he spoke warmly about the man and the musician.
'He was one of nature's gentlemen,' said Liam who knew Joe for 25 years ever since he began playing in Hotel Rosslare.
Joe who grew up in Tottenham Green, is survived by his wife Cora; his sons Mark and Shane; his daughter Joanne and his grandson Reece.
He was sadly predeceased over a decade ago by his son Conor who was killed in a car crash, a tragedy that hit him very hard.
At his Requiem Mass, Joe was given a fitting musical farewell with various musicians and singers performing during the service. Burial took place in Kilgarvan Cemetery. Afterwards refreshments were served in the Oak Tree where countless musicians contribution to a session in Joe's memory, including his son Mark who is also a professional singer and guitarist.
Mark lives in Spain with his partner Ziggy and their son Reece and plays gigs seven nights a week.
His son Shane who works in the Ulster Bank in Wexford and daughter Joanne also sang in honour of their father.
Before the music started, a round of applause and standing ovation were offered in tribute instead of a minute's silence.