April in Dublin, Activities Various

An American visitor to Dublin tagged along with a Dubliner friend
one evening last week to attend a talk at the National Print Museum
(as in printing presses and newspaper history) located at the former
military garrison buildings at Beggar’s Bush. The talk, given by Felix
Larkin, was on The Freeman’s Journal, the main Irish Nationalist
newspaper, published from 1760 to 1924. Larkin himself was we guessed
but never verified, a relative of Jim Larkin, a towering figure in
the history of the Irish labor movement. His talk, not uninteresting,
was more or less a history of owners and editors, family lineages,
dates and deals. He commented that one of the editors is mentioned
twice in James Joyce’s Ulysses.
After the talk, when the audience joins in, someone points out that
The Freeman’s Journal is mentioned a total of six times, in three
different chapters of Ulysses. A woman politely lets Felix know that
the editor he named actually appears three times. “He’s also in the Aeolus
chapter,” she says. Various relatives of various editors and owners in the
paper’s history make themselves known or are introduced. The richness
of the additional information offered is stunning.
Any two of the approximately four million native-born citizens resident
in Ireland can usually whittle down their connection to three degrees of separation.
The next evening the visitor and his Irish friend attended an extraordinary
performance at the Abbey Theatre of Three Atmospheric Pieces performed by
Bill Forsythe’s Berlin dance troupe. Chatting with the woman sitting next to them–
a doctor who was born in Limerick but lived and practiced for forty years in Canada
before moving back to live in Galway– the Dubliner referred to Frank McCourt as another
child of Limerick who went to North America. “Oh, yes, Frank McCourt,” the woman
said. “My father was his doctor when he was a boy.”

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