Tay Pay

Tay Pay

In Brief

The "Tay Pay" mentioned by both Myles Crawford and the Citizen is T. P. (Thomas Power) O'Connor, an Irish newspaperman and politician living in England who pronounced his initials in this characteristically Irish way (like "Jaysus" for Jesus). O'Connor is remembered as a prominent journalist and as a strong advocate for home rule during his five decades in Parliament.

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Born in 1848 in Athlone, in County Westmeath, O'Connor became known as a talented orator in college at Galway. After college he moved to Dublin and got a job as a reporter. Several years later he moved to London and built a substantial reputation as a journalist working for the London Daily Telegraph and the New York Herald. He won election as an MP for Galway in 1880, representing the Home Rule League. In 1885 he won a seat from Liverpool––the only Irish nationalist ever to represent a constituency outside of Ireland––and kept that seat until his death in 1929. In 1888 he founded The Star and edited the paper for two or three years. Soon he founded and edited several other new publications: The Weekly Sun (1891), The Sun (1893), and M.A.P. and T.P.'s Weekly (1902). O'Connor published several books on historical and biographical topics, and in 1906 he helped to pass a copyright bill for music to protect composers from the rampant piracy of the day.

Slote observes that "O'Connor was so well-known that his nickname is included in Partridge's dictionary of slang," and also that "In 1900, during a visit to London, Joyce contacted O'Connor for a journalistic job, but was turned down as he was too young (Ellmann, p. 77)." Ellmann's detail provides interesting context not only for Myles Crawford saying that Ignatius Gallaher's career in journalism was helped when "Paddy Hooper worked Tay Pay who took him on to the Star," but also for the presence of Stephen Dedalus in the newspaper office. Although Stephen seems to recoil from Crawford's suggestion that he might have a future in journalism, the young James Joyce published many pieces in newspapers, and on this occasion in 1900 (only 18 years old, and accompanied by his father) he actually sought a job in the field. Stephen is deferential toward his elders throughout Aeolus, and at the end of the chapter, on his way to buy them drinks, he tries to impress them with a fragment of prose fiction. It seems that his aims in visiting the newspaper office may not be limited to getting Deasy's letter into print.

O'Connor is mentioned once more in Cyclops, when his long residence across the water stirs the Citizen's antipathy to all things English: "—The French! says the citizen. Set of dancing masters! Do you know what it is? They were never worth a roasted fart to Ireland. Aren’t they trying to make an Entente cordiale now at Tay Pay’s dinnerparty with perfidious Albion? Firebrands of Europe and they always were."

John Hunt 2023
1917 photograph of Thomas Power O'Connor held in the Library of Congress, Washington, DC. Source: Wikimedia Commons.
John Lavery's oil on canvas portrait of Thomas Power O'Connor, held in the National Gallery of Ireland. Source: Wikimedia Commons.