On this day…29 July

On 29 July 1935 Joyce wrote to the Librarian of University College Galway about his gift of a copy of Pomes Penyeach.

Through Nora Barnacle’s uncle, Michael Healy, Joyce had made a gift to University College Galway of a copy of Pomes Penyeach. He wrote to John Howley, the College Librarian on 29 July about the gift.

At the time, Michael Healy, acting at Joyce’s request, had been keeping an eye on Lucia who was staying in Ireland. Joyce was concerned about his daughter’s behaviour, and as the reports from Michael Healy were not very reassuring, he decided to send Maria Jolas to investigate.

Writing to Michael Healy on 1 July 1935, Joyce thanked him for his letters about Lucia and told him that he was sending Mrs Jolas to Dublin. Joyce felt that Healy had seen Lucia in a bad light and he enclosed a copy of a limited edition of Pomes Penyeach illustrated with Lucia’s lettrines, and asked that Healy present it to the library of University College Galway.

This particular edition of Pomes Penyeach had been published in October 1932 by Desmond Harmsworth in London and Jack Kahane of the Obelisk Press in Paris. It was limited to just 25 copies, reproducing facsimiles of the poems in Joyce’s handwriting and bound in pale green silk. Joyce had hoped that seeing her work in print like this would help Lucia, and some of the profits from the book were to be paid directly to her.

The University Library was happy to accept the gift, and on 29 July Joyce wrote to the Librarian, John Howley about the gift. He said that he wanted to make the gift to University College Galway not only because Lucia was a granddaughter of the city, or because he himself bore the name of one of the tribes of Galway, but also as a way of acknowledging his debt to Michael Healy for his kindnesses and courtesy over the years.


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, vol. III, edited by Richard Ellmann, London: Faber & Faber, 1957 & 1966.


Read more about the 1932 edition of Pomes Penyeach here.