On this day…26 June

On 26 June 1888 Joyce sang in a concert with his parents.

The concert was given by the Bray Boat Club on Tuesday 26 June 1888. Joyce was not quite six and a half years old, and was two months away from starting as a boarder at Clongowes Wood College in Kildare. At the time, the family were living at 1 Martello Terrace, Bray, and Joyce was attending a local infants’ school.

The Joyces moved to 1 Martello Terrace, Bray, in May 1887. Stanislaus Joyce claimed that his father had moved from Dublin to Bray to get away from his in-laws who could be relied on not to pay the train fare to Bray to visit. John Joyce took up his sporting life again, rowing and going fishing with his neighbour, the chemist James Vance, and fishermen from Bray, all accompanied by the usual drinking.

Not surprisingly, then, the Joyces were involved in the fundraiser for the Bray Boat Club that was held on 26 June. According to the programme, ‘Master Joyce’ sang ‘Houlihan’s Cake’ (which seems also to go by the name ‘Miss Houlihan’s Christmas Cake’ or ‘Miss Hooligan’s Christmas Cake’ or ‘Miss Fogarty’s Christmas Cake,’ by C Frank Horn) towards the end of the first half of the programme. John Joyce sang ‘My Sweetheart when a Boy’ by Reginald Morgan, and Mrs Joyce and Mrs Vance sang the duet ‘The Fisher’s Evening Song’ by Friedrich Kücken.

The rest of the programme consisted of solos, duets, quartets, choral pieces and recitations. The concert took place in the Assembly Rooms, Bray, on Quinsborough Road. The Assembly Rooms started out as Turkish baths, built by William Dargan and Dr Richard Barter in 1859. The baths were not very successful, and closed in the mid-1860s. They reopened in 1867 with the baths relegated to one wing of the building and the rest used as assembly rooms for concerts and entertainments.


Sources & Further Reading:

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

Joyce, Stanislaus: My Brother’s Keeper, edited with an Introduction by Richard Ellmann, Preface by TS Eliot, London: Faber & Faber, 1958.

The programme for the concert can be seen here.

More information on the Turkish baths in Bray here.