A fresh look at James Joyce’s Galway relationships


THIS YEAR marks the centenary of the publication of James Joyce’s groundbreaking work of modernist fiction, Ulyssesbut while this book and its author are deeply rooted in Dublin, Joyce himself had connections to Galway.

Joyce is a Galway/Mayo name, and his wife, Nora Barnacle, was from Bowling Green in Galway City. Joyce sometimes wrote about Galway, notably in the poem “She Weeps Over Rahoon” and in the short story “The Dead”.

Indeed, even the first words of Ulysses – “Majestic, plump Buck Mulligan” – carries a roundabout reference to Galway, as Mulligan was based on writer Oliver St John Gogarty, a friend of Joyce who owned the Renvyle House Hotel. Also, it has been argued that Molly Bloom’s recollection of being kissed “under the Moorish Wall” is a reference to Nora Barnacle’s recollections of being courted in Galway near the Spanish Arch.

Joyce and her connections to Galway are explored in the book, Joyce County by Ray Burke, which was published by the Artisan House of Letterfrack. It will be launched by author Nuala O’Connor – who wrote a wonderful novel about Nora Barnacle last year, titled nora – at the Charlie Byrne bookstore, tomorrow, Friday February 4 at 6:30 p.m.

Written in a style accessible to the general public, the book contains considerable new information and gives context and new perspectives on Nora Barnacle’s influence on Joyce’s writing, not only in Ulyssesbut throughout his work.

This edition of Joyce County is updated from the original Currach Press publication in 2016. This new hardcover version will add over 120 additional pieces of text and notes, a foreword by Uachtarán na hÉireann, Michael D Higgins; a complete index; and original artwork by Raymond Murphy and Joe Boske.

Ray Burke journalist and author

“The first edition has been out of print for some time,” said Ray Burke [pictured above]“and, especially for this centenary year of Ulysses, and Nora Barnacle’s last visit to her home town of Galway, I wanted to put it back on the shelves. I was delighted that Artisan House, a company from Galway, believed in it and I am happy that this second edition has many new features, including the Chairman’s Foreword.

Ray Burke is Galwegian and a graduate of NUI Galway. A journalist for more than 40 years, he was editor-in-chief of the Irish press and news editor of RTÉ News. Since his retirement, he has written for Irish weather and the Century Ireland website.

All are welcome at launch. Find out more at www.artisanhouse.ie


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