On this day…8 June

On 8 June 1904 Joyce sang at the home of James and Gretta Cousins in Sandymount.

James and Gretta Cousins lived at 22 Dromard Terrace, Sandymount, and had their ‘at home’ there on Wednesday evenings. On the evening of Wednesday 8 June 1904 Joyce was one of the guests at their ‘at home’ and sang some songs.

Among the other guests there that evening was Joseph Holloway (1861-1944), an architect with a passion for theatre. From 1895 until his death, Holloway kept a diary of impressions of Dublin theatre and cultural life that amounted to more than 200 notebooks containing over 100,000 pages. The diary, now at the National Library of Ireland, is a significant source of information on Dublin theatre during that time.

Holloway’s entry for the evening of 8 June 1904 included this account of Joyce’s singing: “Dropped in for a chat at Cousins’ where I stayed for a couple of hours. You are always sure to find some interesting people there…Miss Cousins played a couple of beautiful pieces beautifully, and Mr Joyce – a mysterious kind of youth with weird penetrating eyes (which he frequently shades with his hands) and a half-bashful, far-away, wistful expression on his face – sang some dainty ballads most artistically and pleasingly, some to his own accompaniment. As he sings, he sways his head from side to side to add to the soulfulness of his rendering. He is a strange boy; I cannot fathom him.”

At the time, Joyce was living at 60 Shelbourne Road, not far from the Cousins’ at Dromard Terrace. When Joyce couldn’t pay the rent at Shelbourne Road in the middle of June, James and Gretta Cousins let him stay in the spare room in their house, and it was there that Joyce spent the night of 16 June 1904.


Sources & Further Reading:

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

Holloway, Joseph: Joseph Holloway’s Abbey Theatre – A Selection from His Unpublished Journal ‘Impressions of a Dublin Playgoer,’ edited by Robert Goode Hogan & Michael J O’Neill, Carbondale: Southern Illinois University Press, 1967.

Stephenson, Paul, & Margie Waters: ‘“We Two” and the Lost Angel: The Cousins of Sandymount and James Joyce,’ in James Joyce Quarterly, vol. 37, no. 1-2, Fall 1999/ Winter 2000, pp. 167-182.