Time enough

In Brief

The old milkwoman of Telemachus lives by a very relaxed sense of time, expressed in her careless assurance that there is "time enough" for the tower residents to pay their bill. Joyce shows here the fast-paced rhythm of modern urban existence, embodied especially in the Englishman, meeting the slow-moving world of rural Ireland.

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Haines points out that “We had better pay her, Mulligan, hadn’t we?” To the old woman, “the bill” is something that can be settled now or at some later date. She was probably not going to mention it, even though it has been accumulating every day for ten days, and when Mulligan comes up with a coin to settle most of the tab (prompted by Haines’ exhortation to “Pay up and look pleasant”), the hand in which she receives the florin is “uneager.” To Stephen’s assurance that “We’ll owe twopence,” she says calmly, “Time enough, sir . . . Time enough.”

The gap between rural Ireland and the frenetic modern world has no doubt narrowed since the publication of Ulysses, but it remains. Eric Cross' 1942 portrait of The Tailor shows a man "prodigal of time," whose favorite saying is "Glac bog an saoghal agus glacfaidh an saoghal bog tú: Take the world fine and aisy and the world will take you fine and aisy" (13-14). Even in the era of the European Union time moves slower in this magical country, as Tony Hawks’ 1998 travelogue Round Ireland with a fridge (1998) makes hilariously clear.

JH 2011
Eric Cross, The Tailor and Ansty (Mercier, 1999).
Tony Hawks, Round Ireland with a fridge (Ebury Press, 1998).