On this day…29 December

On 29 December 1931 John Stanislaus Joyce died.

John Stanislaus Joyce, who hadn’t seen his son for almost twenty years, died in hospital on the evening of Tuesday 29 December 1931. Joyce did not travel from Paris to visit his dying father or to attend his funeral.

John Joyce had been lodging with Albert Medcalf and his family at their house at 25 Claude Road, off Whitworth Road, Drumcondra. The Medcalfs seemed to know little about who the old man was and, according to Padraic Colum, they saw him only as ‘a battered shabby old person.’

The toothless John Joyce was already bedridden when he took ill on Tuesday 22 December 1931. Albert Medcalf called the local doctor, Dr JF Delaney, and a priest who administered the last rites. An ambulance took John Joyce the short distance to Whitworth General Hospital on Whitworth Road, and John Joyce asked Medcalf to contact his son in Paris.

The following day, Medcalf visited Eileen Schaurek, one of John Joyce’s daughters who was living on Mountjoy Square at the time, not far from two other sisters, Florrie and Eva. Another daughter, May Monaghan journeyed from Galway to visit him, and John Joyce told her he had ‘got more out of life than any white man.’

Though weak, John Joyce rallied a little on Saturday 26 December. Joyce’s letter of Christmas greetings had arrived containing a postal order for £1, and the following day Joyce telegraphed Dr Kerry Reddin, asking him to ensure that his father got the best medical treatment, the cost of which he said he would cover.

One of the last things John Joyce said, to his daughter Eva, was ‘Tell Jim he was born at six in the morning.’ This was in response to a query Joyce had sent him about the time of his birth. John Joyce died on the evening of Tuesday 29 December 1931 and was buried in Glasnevin Cemetery on New Year’s Day 1932.


Sources & Further Reading:

Ellmann, Richard: James Joyce – new and revised edition, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1982.

Jackson, John Wyse, and Peter Costello: John Stanislaus Joyce – The Voluminous Life and Genius of James Joyce’s Father, London: Fourth Estate, 1997.

Norburn, Roger: A James Joyce Chronology, Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2004.