Telemachus 0052

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Mulligan has been waiting for a chance to perform his masterpiece, the “Ballad of Joking Jesus.” More is coming in the next few pages.

The ballad is one of many things in Ulysses not written by James Joyce. It was written by the real-life inspiration for Buck Mulligan, Oliver St. John Gogarty. The ballad even has its own Wikipedia page. It’s brilliant. A friendly Welshman (Gareth, you out there?) once told me that the song was meant to be sung to the tune of “Sweet Betsy from Pike.”

I’ve cherished this as a bit of inherited Joycean lore, but it does seem to have some basis in tradition. Note this retro website from John Patrick, a scholar of bawdy songs. Mr. Patrick (surely he is Dr. Patrick by now?) has an mp3 snippet of a 1962 recording of the song here. The snippet comes from the Library of Congress, and a recording in the Archive of Folk Culture of an interview with a man named Donald Laycock who was from New South Wales.

Would cherish further information, or even video of a boozy rendition of the song…

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