Haughey's reception marking Joyce centenary cost £8,000


Food and drink for the first State celebration of James Joyce cost just over £8,000 – or about €37,000 in today’s terms – according to papers released under the 30-year rule.

A reception hosted by then taoiseach Charles Haughey and his wife Maureen was held in the State Apartments at Dublin Castle to mark the centenary year of Joyce’s birth.

Joyce was born on February 2nd, 1882, but the reception was held on June 14th, 1982, two days before Bloomsday, the date on which the events depicted in the author’s celebrated novel Ulysses take place.

The reception coincided with the opening of the eighth international James Joyce symposium in Dublin. In addition to symposium participants, many writers and artists were invited.

There is a Joycean air about the list of “finger-food”provided by the outdoor catering division of Aer Lingus, which included fried scampi, chipolata sausages, chicken liver in bacon, smoked salmon, sweetcorn, assorted pinwheel and ribbon sandwiches, nuts, olives, cheese straws and pickled onions. The Aer Lingus bill came to £8,017.83. The bar bill was £3,520.77.

Fine Gael leader Garret FitzGerald attended the event, but two days later he questioned Haughey in the Dáil as to whether the government had failed to invite opposition leaders to another function to mark the centenary.


Clearly mystified, Haughey replied: “I shall have to inquire into that and I will communicate with the deputy.”

A note in the file states: “Dr FitzGerald thought a Joyce dinner hosted by the Govt had been arranged and that he had been excluded from it – apparently such a function had been considered during his term in office. Taoiseach told him such a dinner did not eventuate.”

At one point, the possibility of two receptions had been mooted: one hosted by Haughey for the symposium and the other by foreign affairs minister Gerry Collins to mark the Joyce centenary.

A note to Haughey from one of his officials on April 6th points out that the taoiseach’s cultural and artistic adviser, Anthony Cronin, “feels that one State reception is sufficient and this is also the view of the Department of Foreign Affairs”.