On this day…28 May

On 28 May 1779 Thomas Moore was born.

Born in Dublin in 1779, Moore studied at Trinity College before going to London in 1799 to pursue a career as a lawyer. He achieved fame writing lyrical poems, many of which have become well known as songs and ballads. He travelled to Bermuda and through North America, returning to England in 1804. He spent time in Kilkenny where he met Elizabeth Dyke, and he married her in 1811.

Moore started writing lyrics to Irish tunes and these were published in several volumes of Moore’s Irish Melodies from 1807 to 1834. They include some of his best known and most popular works, such as ‘The Minstrel Boy,’ ‘Oft in the Stilly Night,’ ‘The Last Rose of Summer,’ ‘Silent O Moyle,’ and ‘Believe Me if All Those Endearing Young Charms.’

Moore left England in 1819 and toured around Europe, meeting Lord Byron who entrusted him with his memoirs. Moore, at Byron’s family’s request, later destroyed the memoirs, but he edited a volume of letters and journals of Lord Byron, published in 1830. Moore also wrote popular biographies of Richard Brinsley Sheridan and Lord Edward Fitzgerald.

He settled at Sloperton Cottage, near Bromham in Wiltshire, and was awarded a state pension. He died in 1852 and was buried in Bromham.

Joyce was very familiar with Moore’s work and had a volume of Moore’s Poetical Works in his Trieste library. There are dozens of references to Moore’s works throughout Joyce’s writing, from Dubliners (‘Silent O Moyle’ in ‘Two Gallants’), to A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man (‘Oft in the Stilly Night’), Ulysses (‘The Harp That Once Through Tara’s Halls,’ ‘The Last Rose of Summer,’ ‘Let Erin Remember,’ ‘The Minstrel Boy,’ ‘Love’s Young Dream,’ and ‘The Meeting of the Waters’), and Finnegans Wake (some 122 lyrics by Moore have been identified in the Wake).


Sources & Further Reading:

Bowen, Zack: Musical Allusions in the Works of James Joyce – Early Poetry Through Ulysses, Dublin: Gill & Macmillan, Albany: State University of New York Press.