IRONIES by Donal Kennedy

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If James Joyce had won a gold, rather than a silver, medal at Dublin’s Feis Ceoil ,  he might have rivalled  the great John MacCormack or Enrico Caruso, made pots of money and bedded more women than Blazes Boylan,and been a bigger social success in Hollywood than Jack Doyle. But, to the despair of his long-suffering wife, Nora Barnacle, he devoted himself to scribblings which she couldn’t make head or tail of, and lived from hand to mouth.

One of cinema’s  greatest comedians, W.C. Fields, felt himself a failure because he was not as big at the box-office as Charlie Chaplin. But the latter’s universal appeal depended on keeping his mouth shut, and I don’t believe he uttered an amusing sentence in his life. His rant at the end of The Great Dictator would make a Corbynsta wince.He didn’t do one liners. More Titanics.

Then there was the great film director, John Huston, who would have preferred to have been a great writer. As a step in that direction he set up house in Ireland and became a citizen of our country. At the end of his career he filmed the greatest of James Joyce’s stories from the collection Dubliners  –  “The Dead”.  The film is itself a masterpiece and can be seen on YOUTUBE.

James Joyce was friendly with the three daughters of Eugene Sheehy,Nationalist MP at Westminster. Hannah married  Francis Skeffington, socialist,feminist, republican and Ireland’s most prominent pacifist, murdered with other non-combatants by  British soldiers commanded by Captain Bowen Colthurst on Easter Tuesday 1916. Mary Sheehy married Tom Kettle who became a Nationalist MP and died in Flanders serving with the British Army in September 1916. The third daughter, Kathleen Sheehy, features as Miss Ivors in “The Dead.”   Miss Ivors picks on Gabriel Conroy and berates him for cosmopolitan pretensions and writing reviews for a unionist, imperialist newspaper.

Mary Sheehy married Francis Cruise O’Brien, and on 3rd November 1917 brought forth a baby boy. Boy, what an irony!




8 Responses to IRONIES by Donal Kennedy

  1. truthrevisionist July 5, 2016 at 2:20 pm #

    If you had taken the time to read James Joyces’ output of degrading ‘filth’ and animalistic sexual smut base perversions, in his ‘letters to Nora Barnacle’ you might be inclined to a less affectionate view of perhaps one of the most vile creatures that literary Ireland ever produced.

    Another ‘over -egged’ literary so called ‘genius’ promoting depravity and sewer-life to the lemmings.

    On a par.. and worse, than Geldof.

    • Jude Collins July 5, 2016 at 6:12 pm #

      I hope he wasn’t writing about sex in private letters to the woman he married…And I hope you didn’t take pleasure in reading them, tr…

      • truthrevisionist July 5, 2016 at 8:10 pm #

        Well of course he wasn’t writing about ‘sex’ Jude.

        He was writing about his and her depraved acts of coprophilia ( the consumption of excrement during sexual arousal) buggery, and masochism.

        You may wish to peruse some of the very mild ‘filth’ at:

        I would prefer not to provide a link to the worst.

        Her replies are withheld in the family estate because of their ‘exceptional depravity’.
        The 1975 book to my knowledge has never been republished and is difficult to obtain because of the character damage it inflicts on Joyces’ ‘greatness’.

        As for taking pleasure in reading them ?

        I take pleasure only in the knowledge that if humans can debase and descend to such depravity -and subsequently be lauded as geniuses- and our education system is so uninquisitive,- as to bestow admiration on such gutter- dwellers I am gratified that I’m far removed from it.

        • Jude Collins July 5, 2016 at 9:26 pm #

          tr – I like you but I think you’re totally off-target on this one. First, to sit in judgement on what people get up to with each other in their private lives is a shaky enterprise. Things I might find repulsive, others might find quite fun, and vice versa. But second and more important: Joyce is hailed as a great writer, not as a great spiritual leader or a saint or even a nice man. The number of truly talented people in all sorts of fields of endeavour who were, as people, total stinkers, is legion. The fact that footballers are dropped because they’re caught with their pants down or because they’ve beaten their wives is in my opinion truly stupid. George Best was a wonderfully gifted footballer and is properly remembered for that. He was also a wife-beater and an alcoholic who kept letting people down. That’s unfortunate but it doesn’t in any way take from his footballing talent. I think if you stand back you’ll see that your judgement on Joyce’s eating tastes has nothing to do with his writing ability.

          • truthrevisionist July 5, 2016 at 10:42 pm #


            Jimmy Savile was a great DJ, entertainer and charity fundraiser.

            He was also a necrophiliac and a serial paedophile.

            ‘Now that’s unfortunate but it doesn’t in any way take’ from his charitable work.

            I think now that I can stand back and not pass judgement on his depraved sexual acts on human corpses in morgues, I might well reconsider and re-evaluate the probity of his character and intellect.

            After all we shouldn’t sit in judgement on what people get up to in their private lives.

            In fact why not bestow glowing admiration on the ‘political virtues’ of such ‘esteemed establishment pillars’, such as Greville Janner, Leon Brittan, Ted Heath, Cyril Smyth, Rhodes Boyson, Nicholas Fairburn, Sir Keith Joseph, Clement Freud etc. etc….

            In fact why not just sit back and let the liberal intelligentsia ‘spoon-feed’ us dollops of sanitised puerile sh**t like Nora did to Jim ?

            That way, we can remain mindlocked and have heroes without ‘warts’.

          • Jude Collins July 6, 2016 at 9:56 am #

            I don’t think you’ve really read what I said, tr.

  2. Donal Kennedy July 7, 2016 at 4:55 pm #

    I’m afraid I never read Ulysses even one quarter way thru nor would I even try Finnegans Wake.I have read all the DUBLINERS stories. Also the Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man and Stephen Hero.Enough to make me an admirer of Joyce the writer.
    I’ve also read, for instance, enough of Evelyn Waugh’s novels to convince me he was a fine
    writer. I’ve also read his diaries which reveal him as a snob and a reactionary and a thorough shit.

    I’ve read a paragraph or two of the Marquis de Sade. Enough to make me consign himself and his works to a bonfire, even when they have an Introduction by Simone de Bouverie.I
    spelt that wrong. She was Sartre’s Squeeze.

  3. Donal Kennedy July 7, 2016 at 8:23 pm #

    I haven’t read Joyce’s private letters.
    I’ve read all the Dubliners stories and Portrait of The Artist which he put in the public domain
    and “Stephen Hero” which he had tried to burn. I’ve read bits and pieces of Ulysses which
    read like the Saturday night pseudo cynicism of worldly- wise 20 year old students in a Dublin
    Pub. I know there are people in Birmingham, Berlin, Truro and Tokyo who think they understand it, but they haven’t a clue. Joyce was a brilliant writer when writing for publication.
    People who prefer to delve into private correspondence have problems which have nothing
    to do with literary criticism.
    Anyhow my subject was irony