On this day…11 August

On 11 August 1912 Joyce’s article about Galway was published in the Piccolo.

The article, ‘La città delle tribù; Ricordi italiani in un porto irlandese’ (‘The City of the Tribes: Italian Memories in an Irish Port’) had been written in Italian by Joyce in Galway and sent to Il Piccolo della Sera in Trieste where it was published on 11 August.

Joyce arrived in Galway on 16 July 1912 with his son Giorgio to meet up with Nora and Lucia who arrived there a week before. Several articles written by Joyce in Italian had already been published in the Piccolo, and while in Galway he wrote two more. Though this was not Joyce’s first visit to Galway, he was perhaps taking advantage of Nora’s knowledge of the city and county, and while there he visited the Aran Islands, Oughterard, and Clifden, and went to the Galway Races.

Joyce starts his article by referring to the ‘idle Dubliner’ (probably himself) who imagines the city of Galway to be populated by Spanish-looking types with dark hair and olive skin. He says this is only partly true, but also describes the relationship of the city and the sea, and points up the important connections it had with Latin Europe in the Middle Ages.

Joyce mentions some specifically Italian connections to the city of Galway: the fourteenth-century Florentine Andrea Gerardo, who collected customs duties for the city; a seventeenth-century mayor named Giovanni Fante (though the actual records don’t show any mayor by this name); and St Nicholas of Bari (a town in Italy) who was also the patron saint of Galway.

Amongst other titbits of information, Joyce describes a seventeenth-century map of the city made by Revd Henry Joyce, and he also gives a detailed account of the story of the fifteenth-century mayor of Galway, James Lynch FitzStephen who, as a judge, was responsible for condemning and executing his own son.

Most of the information for the Galway article Joyce took from James Hardiman’s The History of the Town and County of Galway (1820). Joyce followed this article with another about a trip to the Aran Islands, published in the Piccolo on 5 September 1912.


Sources & Further Reading:

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

Joyce, James: Occasional, Critical, and Political Writing, edited with an introduction and notes by Kevin Barry, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2000.