In Brief

In two chapters of Ulysses Bloom recalls how Corny Kelleher is always singing a nonsensical ditty with a burden of "tooraloom, tooraloom." In Circe he sings the Chorus himself. This is an actual music hall song, though Bloom (or Joyce) is slightly misremembering the refrain, perhaps unconsciously echoing similar syllables in an Irish lullaby. The song was published in 1873 with the title I Vowed that I Never Would Leave Her, or Tootle Tum, Tootle Tum Tay. An earlier version was published in 1862.

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In Lotus Eaters, when he first thinks of Kelleher, Bloom recalls some lines from the song's second verse and the nonsense syllables that conclude that verse:

Please look on this warrior bold,

Pray behold, I've been sold,

And I'm sure when my story is told

Badly treated I've been you will say

By a girl who was called Susan Jane,

Susan Jane was her name

But I hope I'll ne'er see her again.

Tho' I vow'd that I never would leave her,

She turn'd out a cruel deceiver,

Tootle tum, tootle tum, Tootle tum, tootle tum,

Tootle tum, tootle tum tay.

Now I met this girl first in the Park,

In the Park, What a lark,

And I ventur'd to make a remark

That it was a very cold day.

She answer'd me, not at all bold,

That it was very cold,

Her name and address she then told

Tootle tum, tootle tum tay.


In Circe the entire Chorus floats back into his mind when Nosey Flynn says, "Give us a tune, Bloom. One of the old sweet songs." Bloom sings the chorus "With rollicking humour" and Hoppy Holohan says, "Good old Bloom! There’s nobody like him after all." Paddy Leonard, however, opines, "Stage Irishman!" It does seem that Bloom has made the song stereotypically Irish by misremembering "Tootle tum" as "Tooraloom," thus echoing a famous (and beautiful) lullaby:

Hush now, don't you cry.

The music hall song itself, however, was anything but Irish. Arthur Lloyd was born in Edinburgh to English parents. The website, source of the images posted here, records that I Vowed that I Never Would Leave Her was published in London in 1873. But the page devoted to the song observes that it "was published in a book of George Christy's songs at an earlier date, 1862, with the name 'Bootle-Tum, Tootle-Tum Tay' so should be attributed to him originally. The book was called George Christy's Essence of Old Kentucky and contained many of his songs." This book was published in New York. Scottish-English and Scottish-American, then.

The first person to locate the source of Kelleher's song was Aida Yared, creator of the website. She wrote to the curator of the ArthurLloyd site, noting that "The source of the song had thus far eluded Joyce scholars."

JH 2022
Cover of the sheet music of Lloyd's song. Source:
Page One of the song. Source:
Page Two. Source:
Page Three. Source:
Page Four. Source: