On this day…7 March

On 7 March 1921 George Clancy was shot.

George Clancy (1881-1921) had only recently been elected Sinn Féin mayor of Limerick when he was murdered by Black and Tans. Clancy studied at University College Dublin and was a friend of Joyce’s. He was the only one of Joyce’s circle who called Joyce by his first name.

Clancy was born and educated in Limerick before arriving at UCD. He was an enthusiast of the nationalist movement and was one of the founders of the UCD branch of the Gaelic League. He even persuaded fellow students, including Joyce, to take Irish language classes with Padraic Pearse who led the Easter Rising in 1916.

Clancy was a hurler and a friend of Michael Cusack, one of the co-founders of the Gaelic Athletic Association. Clancy introduced Joyce to Cusack who was the model for ‘The Citizen’ in the ‘Cyclops’ episode of Ulysses.

Clancy was the model for the character Madden in Stephen Hero and for Davin in A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man. In A Portrait, the character Davin is referred to as “the peasant student” and is related to the real-life Maurice ‘Mat’ Davin, co-founder with Michael Cusack of the Gaelic Athletic Association.

Joyce remembers Clancy in a letter in 1935 where he makes it clear that Clancy was the only one who called him by his first name, as Joyce had pointed out in A Portrait where Davin calls Stephen ‘Stevie.’ In Stephen Hero this familiarity is explained by the fact that Madden has a younger brother called Stephen.

Arrested after the 1916 Rising, Clancy was released from prison in November 1917, and was elected Mayor of Limerick on 31 January 1921. In the early hours of 7 March, Clancy, along with his predecessor as Mayor, Michael O’Callaghan, were shot in their homes in Limerick. A third man, Joseph O’Donoghue, was also killed. (The murders became known as the ‘Curfew Murders’ as they took place during a curfew in the city.)  They were murdered by members of the Royal Irish Constabulary Auxiliaries, known as the ‘Black and Tans.’ No one was ever charged in connection with the murders.


Sources & Further Reading:

Ellmann, Richard: James Joyce – New and Revised Edition, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1982.

Joyce, James: Letters of James Joyce, vol. I, edited by Stuart Gilbert, London: Faber & Faber, 1957.

Joyce, Stanislaus: My Brother’s Keeper, London: Faber & Faber, 1958.


Documentary information about George Clancy here.