A Joycean antecedent


Sir, – Stephen Collins writes that the slogan “tiocfaidh ár lá” was made famous by the Brighton bomber, Patrick Magee, after his conviction in 1986 (Opinion & Analysis, February 15th). It may, however, have an earlier history.

In James Joyce’s Portrait of the Artist, Stephen Dedalus has a discussion with his friend Michael Davin, identified in the Portrait as “a young fenian”. Davin exhorts Stephen to “try to be one of us” – but Stephen rejects this contemptuously, saying: “My ancestors threw off their language and took another . . . They allowed a handful of foreigners to subject them. Do you fancy I am going to pay in my own life and person debts they made?” Stephen adds: “You invite me to be one of you. I’ll see you damned first.” Davin responds as follows: “Our day will come yet.”

Joyce is probably here repeating a form of words which were in use among the advanced nationalists of his youth as an expression of defiance in the face of opposition, just as Sinn Féin uses the slogan today. – Yours, etc,



Dublin 18.