Maud Gonne

In Brief

"Maud Gonne," the fiery nationalist whom William Butler Yeats loved hopelessly and unendingly, is mentioned by Kevin Egan in Proteus as a "beautiful woman" who was involved with the French politician and journalist Lucien "Millevoye." In Lotus Eaters Bloom recalls how she opposed the free rein given to British troops to roam the streets of Dublin at night, seeking sex from prostitutes.

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Gifford notes that "Early in the Boer War (1899-1902), in an effort to encourage enlistments, the British army suspended the rule that troops in Dublin spend the nights in barracks. The result was a considerable number of troops prowling O'Connell Street and vicinity in search of 'companionship.' Maud Gonne rallied her Daughters of Ireland to campaign against enlistment in the British army; as part of their campaign the women distributed a leaflet (attributed to Maud Gonne) 'on the shame of Irish girls consorting with the soldiers of the enemy of their country'" (86). This is probably what Bloom is recalling when he thinks of "Maud Gonne's letter about taking them off O'Connell Street at night." He thinks that "Griffith's paper is on the same tack now." Arthur Griffith, the nationalistic editor of the United Irishman, did indeed join Gonne's protest in May and June 1904.

Pearl records that in June 1904 the Dublin Corporation passed a resolution calling on army authorities to "abate the nuisance caused by the British soldiers in the streets of the capital." He notes that one of the Corporation's members, "Mr Corrigan, speaking in favour of the resolution, said he was a loyal man, but 'neither in Paris, Port Said, Cairo, nor Bombay, had he witnessed such scenes.' When the British Government rejected the protest, which Maud Gonne endorsed, Arthur Griffith's United Irishman commented bitterly: 'The British Government has officially announced that . . . it intends to take no steps to prevent the continuance of scenes which have earned for Dublin abroad the reputation of being one of the most immoral cities in the world. . . . That is what we expected it to announce. . . . Dublin is nicknamed in the British army "the soldiers' Paradise" because in no city in Great Britain or in any part of the British Empire is such latitude permitted to the soldiery as in Dublin'."

"M. Millevoye," the editor of the periodical "La Patrie" beginning in 1894, was an ardent supporter of the nationalist, anti-Republican general Georges Boulanger. His involvement with Maud Gonne, following his separation from his wife Adrienne in the 1880s and lasting throughout the 1890s, produced two children. Georges died in infancy, but Iseult, age 6, went to Ireland with her mother when Maud left Lucien in 1900, and eventually became the object of a marriage proposal (like similar proposals to her mother, rejected) from Yeats.

JH 2013
Maud Gonne ca. 1900. Source: Wikimedia Commons.
The first issue of The United Irishman in 4 March 1899, founded by Arthur Griffith upon his return from covering the Boer War. Source: www.nli.ie/blog.
Lucien Millevoye in 1914, in a photograph held by the Bibliothèque Nationale de France. Source: Wikimedia Commons.