James Joyce and MoLI


A chara, – I agree with your editorial “A well-merited honour” (September 21st) relating to the partnership of the National Library and UCD in honouring James Joyce with the Museum of Literature Ireland (MoLI).

Joyce may have been in self-exile from Ireland, but as he told Sean Lester in Geneva some weeks before his sudden death, “I am attached to it daily and nightly like an umbilical cord”, with his family adding that he kept Radio Éireann going on the wireless all the time.

You write that the Irish State refused to repatriate his body in 1941. When the State through the minister of external affairs Sean MacBride repatriated the body of WB Yeats in 1948, Nora Barnacle again had representations made to do likewise for her husband. But the government refused that request in 1949. A note on the file dated July 17th, 1949, says, “Spoke to Taoiseach. No Action”.

There the matter rested until June 2018 when President Michael D Higgins, after visiting Joyce’s grave, spoke at Áras an Uachtaráin on Bloomsday.

He said, “We must never forget on Bloomsday the person, the family, and the sacrifices that gave us the ground-breaking literary inheritance that is celebrated all over the world. Ireland owes a debt to James Joyce”.

To my mind that debt can only be repaid by a State offer to repatriate Joyce’s remains. – Yours, etc,



Dublin 4.