Eugene Sheehy , in The Joyce We Knew, ed. Ulick O’Connor (Cork: Mercier Press 1967; Brandon 2004), pp.19-38.

[…] I remember, for instance, a great occasion on which James Joyce read a paper on ‘Drama and Life’ for the Literary and Historical Society. He had previously submitted the script of his address to the Rev. President of the college for his approval. The latter, finding much to disagree with in Joyce’s whole-hearted praise of Ibsen’s plays, passed a blue pencil through some of the passages in the address. Joyce, however, refused to read his paper if these passages were deleted. He discussed the matter with the President and to enforce his argument even lent him copies of the plays for his perusal. The result was that Joyce carried the day and read his paper without a word omitted.

A strong opposition was, however, marshalled to criticize the views expressed therein. Dr. William Magennis, Arthur Clery, W. P. Coyne, Hugh Kennedy (the late Chief Justice) and others attacked Joyce very vehemently and from every angle. Joyce rose to reply at about 10 p.rn. when the bell was ringing in the landing outside to signal that it was time to wind up the proceedings. Joyce spoke without a note for about forty minutes and dealt with each of his critics in turn. It was a masterly performance and delivered to the accompaniment of rounds of applause from the back benches, which quite drowned the noise of the futile curfew on the landing outside.

After the debate had finished Seamus Clandillon expressed the views of many when he clapped joyce vigorously on the back and exclaimed: ‘Joyce, that was magnificent, but you’re raving mad!’ [24]

Treated both lectures and examinations as a joke [tale of ‘poetic justice in Lear – ‘unmeaning jargon so far as I am concerned’. [25]

[Artifoni’s] lesson at Newman Hse.: ‘I was counting the carriages at Alderman Kernan’s funeral!’

Joyce and he [John Francis Byrne – the Cranly of A Portrait ] carried on long conversations in Dog Latin, to which each contributed an ingenious quota. “ Ibo crix oppidum’, for instance, signified: ‘I am going across town’; ad manum ballum jocabimus’ – We will play handball; and ‘ egnat felices atque canes’ – ‘it is raining cats and dogs’. And, in more correct Latin, another bright effort on the part of “Cranly” resulted in the aphorisim “ Nomina stultorum ubique scribuntur ’ – the names of fools are found on walls. It may be that these talks were, on Joyce’s part, the first intimation of the vocabulary of Finnegans Wake. (p.27.)

Joyce could have been a great actor (27.)

Writes of a burlesque Hamlet in which ‘Joyce played Queen Mother to [William] Fallon’s Ophelia, and th eperformance wold rival that of Jimmy O’Dea at his best. As Ophelia, with appropriate comments, laid on the carpet some pieces of carrot and onion – the best substitutes for yew and rosemary – Hamlet’s mother (who bore s striking resemblance to “Mrs Mulligan of the Coombe”), performed all the motions of a woman “keening” at an Irish wake in the very ecstasy of grief.’ (p.28.)

His father was a dapper little man, with military moustache, who sported an eyeglass and cae, and wore spats, and I can quite believe that on the date he could do George Lashwood to the life. / I would say, too, that James owed his rather caustic wit to his male parent. [Tells story ending ‘took the liberty of burying her anyway’.] (pp.30-31.

Sheehy cConfesses that he received a copy of transition from Syvlia Beach: ‘I regret to say that I never read the installment in Transition as the first paragraph thereof convinced me that my untutored mind was not adequate to understand and appreciate Joyce’s new “vocabulary”, as he himself termed it. (p.37.)

Narrates arriving later that day at Joyce’s flat and finding that ‘everything in Joyce’s rooms spelt “ Dublin ” – incl. ‘a rug with ‘the corkscrew course of the River Liffey’. (p.37.)

My sister, Mrs Sheey Skeffington, told me that at a later [37] date she had another such interview with Joyce. Half-dazed with his cascade of queries, she at length said to him:

‘Mr Joyce, you pretent to be cosmopolitan, but how is it that all your thoughts are about Dublin , and almost everything that you have written deals with it and its inhabitants?’

‘Mrs Skeffington!, he replied, with a rather whimsical smile, ‘there was an English queen who said that when she died the world [sic for word] “Calais” would be written on her heart. “Dublin” will be found on mine.’ [End]

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