Jakes M'Carthy

Jakes M'Carthy

In Brief

The "Jakes M'Carthy" whom Myles Crawford mentions in the context of Stephen's future in journalism is not a generic name for random Irishmen. He was a well-known sports reporter, and the editor seems to regard him with the same professional pride that he feels for Ignatius Gallaher, whom he brings up in the following section of Aeolus.

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John M'Carthy, who used the pen name "Jacques," pronounced "Jakes," covered Irish football teams from the 1870s until his death in 1901. Vivien Igoe calls him "a conspicuous figure in the world of sport, whose wit, genial temperament and kindly nature won him friends in many circles." She cites his most famous piece of reportage, an account of an Irish rugby player's brilliant try against an English team: "Ryan crossed the line festooned with Saxons." (Fans of American football will hear in this account an echo of the "beast mode" style of running practiced by Marshawn Lynch.) The phrase "festooned with Saxons" lives on in Irish rugby lore to this day.

Igoe supplies other anecdotes. Asked at some point to define the three forms of football, M'Carthy considered the question and replied, "In rugby you kick the ball; in soccer you kick the man if you can't kick the ball; in Gaelic you kick the ball if you can't kick the man; and the use of the knife is forbidden before half time." ("Football" largely meant rugby in Joyce's day, not soccer.) The same wit was on display when, during one of his periodic spells of unemployment, M'Carthy was talking to a friend on O'Connell Bridge and saw a newsboy run past with a placard announcing trouble between Russia and Japan: "Situation in the Far East." He said to his friend, "I wonder, should I apply for it."

In a personal communication, Senan Molony notes that M'Carthy wrote for Sport, the same weekly paper, published by the Freeman's Journal, whose just-released "tissues" (flimsy racing forms) Lenehan has brought into the Evening Telegraph office. Crawford may well be gesturing toward those sheets when he says, "Father, Son and Holy Ghost and Jakes M'Carthy." Molony adds that "Joyce as a good Belvederian loved rugby (even if he preferred to play cricket). He attended the Stade de Colombes for Irish rugby internationals against France when he lived in Paris."

JH 2020
Drawing of John "Jacques" M'Carthy from the 28 January 1888 pages of Sport. Source: Vivien Igoe, Real People.