Thursday, June 16, 2016


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This is Davy's pub in Leeson Street, Dublin, to where the perpetrators of the Phoenix Park Murders retired after their dreadful deed on 6 May 1882.

That's where I went this evening, on Bloomsday in this year of Our Lord 2016.

Was I sitting on one of the same stools as the perpetrators? I doubt it, as this is now the Leeson Lounge and the decor is changed utterly.

I was there to hear Senan Molony talk about the murders, particularly as they were retailed in one of the chapters of Joyce's Ulysses.

Truly Divine with Eamonn Moran on guitar

In the run up to Senan's act, we were treated to some songs which appeared in Joyce's works and even one actually set to music by the great man himself.

The songs were sung by a Dutch lady whose stage name is Truly Divine. And truly divine they were. This lady is a self taught jazz singer with professional theatrical training and she is a wow. A beautiful voice with a great variety of tonality and great delivery.

It was well worth coming in for this alone.

I'd have liked to hear her sing Piaf and asked her about that. Yes, she does, a little, but more Marlene Dietrich and Doris Day. But her Joyce songs, interspersed with commentary were great. I'd have listened all night.

Senan Molony

But that's not what I was there for. I went to see and hear Senan Molony on the Murders. Readers will know that I have a bone to pick with him, but this turned out not to be the night.

His session got of to a sombre start when he was obliged to refer to the murder of Yorkshire Labour MP Jo Cox who had been shot and stabbed and had died on this very day. This was a tricky one as Senan's talk was about a Yorkshire MP who had been stabbed to death on 6 May 1882 in the Phoenix Park, Lord Cavendish.

In any event tonight's show would go on, but the day's events would add a poignancy to this retelling of an older story.

Senan's talk was quite interesting and he spiced it with some over the top impersonations of Joyce's characters.

His main chapter concerned some newspapermen discussing the murders sixteen years later on 16 June 1904 (Bloomsday) and he explained how Joyce's text was taking potshots at newspaper men in general.

You really had to take Joyce's text apart to understand how he was getting it up for the newspaper guys and Senan gave us a good exegesis of the text.

In passing, he was critical of the English newspapers at the time of the murders when they had tried to implicate Parnell in the dreadful deed although he had nothing to do with it.

He told that one with such a straight face that I'm sure his own earlier linking of Albert Folens with Nazis and war criminals was the last thing on his mind.

Anyway, if he gives the talk again somewhere it would be worth going along.

It might just tempt you to read Ulysses or it might put you off entirely.

1 comment:

  1. De Mortuis

    I was anxious to keep the above post balanced, to give Senan his due in terms of content and performance and not to let my own feelings towards him intrude too much.

    But, on reflection today, I remembered him saying that he had a favourite tag in Latin, which turned out to be the well known "de mortuis nihil nisi bonum" which exhorts us not to speak ill of the dead. He introduced it in the context of the newspapers of the day of the murders ignoring it and trashing every corpse in sight.

    It struck me forcibly that Senan himself very purposefully ignored it when he chose to ruin the reputation of a dead Albert Folens to the extent that Albert's widow had to go to court to even get a hearing.

    And just for the record, it is not a phrase I subscribe to myself. I do not see why death should be an escape from accountability for deeds performed in this life.

    However, Senan should not take from this that I will be pursuing him beyond the grave on this matter as I am twenty years his senior and can feel the approach of anecdotage already. He will be glad to know also that I do not believe in an afterlife and will not therefore be in a position to pursue this matter from beyond the grave.

    That is, of course, assuming that I am not proved wrong on the other side of the departure lounge.


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