Dan Tallon

Dan Tallon

In Brief

"Dan Tallon," first mentioned in Calypso, was a prominent Dublin wine merchant. He was also the city's Lord Mayor in the late 1890s. In Ithaca Bloom thinks back to the time when Tallon was first elected to that office.

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In Calypso Bloom thinks of poor country people from County Leitrim working as servers in pubs, and "Then, lo and behold, they blossom out as Adam Findlaters or Dan Tallons." Tallon did come to Dublin from County Wicklow, but there is no evidence that his was a rags-to-riches story. Born in Rathdrum in 1838, he was operating a Dublin tailoring business by the early 1860s. A successful grocer and purveyor of wines and spirits when first elected to the Dublin Corporation in 1890, he became High Sheriff of Dublin in 1895 and was elected Lord Mayor in 1897, 1898, and 1899. His three consecutive terms were the longest stretch served by any Lord Mayor since the reorganization of the Corporation in the middle of the 19th century.

It is natural that Bloom thinks of Tallon in connection with the promotion of alcoholic consumption. In the Dictionary of Irish Biography, Patrick Maume observes that "For a quarter of a century he was either vice-chairman or chairman of the Licensed Grocers’ and Vintners’ Protection Association; he played a leading role in spreading the organisation throughout Ireland, and was described by one member as its ‘right arm’. Temperance advocates, including Irish Irelanders, saw Tallon as embodying the power of the drink lobby; after he boasted that as spokesman for the drink trade he had only to ‘push the button’ and the Irish Party leadership would respond, D. P. Moran mocked him as ‘Keeper of the Magic Button’."

Tallon accomplished much else. He advanced the Parnellite cause after Parnell's downfall, raised funds in the United States for the Parnell statue that now stands at the top of O'Connell Street, met with President McKinley at the White House, lectured widely in Britain, spoke to the mayors of English cities about grave conditions in the west of Ireland, agitated for the reduction of British taxes in Ireland, gave freely to charitable causes, and managed several philanthropic enterprises. He turned down opportunities to serve as an M.P. in Westminster, choosing to work through the Dublin Corporation instead. Although a nationalist, he was scorned by Arthur Griffith and other militant ("advanced") nationalists for his cautious policies of incremental improvement.

JH 2022
1899 photographic portrait of Daniel Tallon by Sir (John) Benjamin Stone, held in the Photographs Collection of the National Portrait Gallery, London. Source: www.npg.org.uk.