In Brief

The Dublin immortalized in Ulysses is a city full of flamboyant self-dramatizers, quirky eccentrics, and outright lunatics. One of them, a man whom Joyce calls "Cashel Boyle O'Connor Fitzmaurice Tisdall Farrell" but who was known to many Dubliners simply as Endymion, walked the streets in an eye-catching costume: elegant but strangely matched clothes evocative of a country gentleman lost on his way to a cricket match or a fox hunt, a hat several sizes too small (one of them reportedly had holes in it for ventilation), a monocle on a string, an umbrella, an overcoat draped over an arm, a bow tie, two swords in scabbards, and other accoutrements like a hunting crop, a fishing rod, a compass, a large cigar, and an alarm clock. Joyce associates Farrell with Dennis Breen, another figure suffering from evident mental imbalance and legal fixations. He detects in him a certain savagery that most Dubliners did not.

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In As I Was Going Down Sackville Street, Oliver Gogarty recounts many instances of Farrell's eccentric behavior, including his way of getting home from the National Library: "We watched him emerge, cross into the middle of the street and halt. From his pocket he produced a large compass. He scrutinised it carefully through his monocle. He turned it, looking up now and then as he did so. He set his course for home" (7). Another spectacle unfolded near the river: "A crowd collected at the Ballast Office clock; that clock, by which all watches are set, caught my eye. I saw that the crowd was looking at Endymion the cricketer, as he saluted the clock with drawn sword. The ceremony over, he took from the tail of his coat a large alarm clock, set it carefully and replaced it in his pocket, from which it began to ring loudly as he walked, greatly to the crowd’s delight. The people cheered good-humouredly. It was high noon!" (101).

In an article titled "Cashel Boyle O'Connor Fitzmaurice Tisdall Farrell (Endymion): The Back-Story," Dublin James Joyce Journal 4 (2011): 87-106, John Simpson provides detailed biographical information about James Henry Farrell. He was born in Dundalk in 1851 into a prominent Catholic family associated with Home Rule politics. By the early 1870s he was living in Dublin, and after passing the requisite civil service exams he became an excise officer. Acting in that capacity in January 1874 he fell "down a ladder into a vault" at J. T. Power's distillery and suffered some kind of brain damage that cost him his mental health and with it his job. In the years after this devastating accident, Simpson notes, Farrell veered into obsessive ideation and strange behavior. For several months in 1884 he was committed to the Richmond Lunatic Asylum, and in 1887 he sued the brother whose advice to seek a medical opinion had led to his being institutionalized. He launched another legal action against Power's distillery, but it was dismissed on statute of limitations grounds. The damages Farrell sought in that suit, £10,000, will interest Joyceans.

Letters that Farrell wrote between 1889 and 1897, and records from the years following, reveal delusional hopes of marrying various rich women, offensively provocative actions toward certain persons both male and female, preoccupation with descent from the prestigious Cashel and Fitzsimons families in Dundalk, and adoption of the nickname Endymion––the Greek youth loved by Selene. Of that nickname Gogarty writes, "When the doctor told him that his mental disability was likely to become progressive, but that he would never be violently unbalanced, he remarked: ‘Endymion, whom the moon loved: a lunatic’" (2).

Farrell's writing and speech show him to have been intelligent, well-educated, and cultured, and some of his strange actions appear to have been consciously played for dramatic effect. He posed as Endymion in full regalia for two Charles H. Dempsey drawings whose exhibition on Grafton Street was reported in the 14 November 1907 Irish Times. But there is little doubt that he was also seriously disturbed. The 1911 census described him as an "imbecile" or "idiot." Simpson observes that "Dubliners were proud of Endymion. They were proud that they tolerated him, but also that he tolerated them. Most people watched him and remembered him with affection, and only a few were aware of the darker side to some of his mutterings. While Gogarty saw a symbol of some kindly aspects of Dublin life, Joyce’s perception of him feels blacker and less tolerant" (102). This is an important point: Joyce detected a aggressive strain in Farrell, or perhaps decided to create one.

His portrait begins in Lestrygonians when Bloom listens to Mrs. Breen's account of her angry husband's unhinged response to receiving a mocking postcard: "now he's going round to Mr Menton's office. He's going to take an action for ten thousand pounds, he says." Bloom directs Josie's attention to a like figure approaching on the sidewalk: "A bony form strode along the curbstone from the river staring with a rapt gaze into the sunlight through a heavystringed glass. Tight as a skullpiece a tiny hat gripped his head. From his arm a folded dustcoat, a stick and an umbrella dangled to his stride." Bloom points out one of the man's obsessive behaviors: "He always walks outside the lampposts. Watch!" In an echo of the Richmond Asylum's nickname, Josie asks, "Is he dotty?" "Denis," she says ruefully, "will be like that one of these days."

Having introduced Farrell as a lunatic, Joyce makes him an angrily preoccupied one in Wandering Rocks. In an interpolation in section 14 he is seen walking past the Kildare Street Club, "murmuring, glassyeyed." In section 17, "stickumbrelladustcoat dangling," he dodges outside a lampost, spins about and retraces his steps, looks at things with a "frowning" glare three times, and with "ratsteeth bared" mutters a "fierce word" in obscure Latin––Coactus volui, whose significance is legal. Plowing ahead (Joyce uses "striding" and "strode" four times to describe his walk), he nearly knocks down the blind stripling, who yells after him, "God's curse on you...whoever you are! You're blinder nor I am, you bitch's bastard!" In section 19 Farrell stares "through a fierce eyeglass" at a justice of the peace standing in the consulate across the street.

The latent pun in Farrell's surname is marvelously well suited to his demeanor in these scenes. There can be no doubt that Joyce heard the homophone, given the rat's teeth and the repetition of the word "fierce," whose etymology is the same, though the obliqueness of these allusions suggests that he may have felt readers of his novel should be smart enough to pick it up on their own. The legal associations in both scenes also suggest awareness that Farrell's ferocity had much to do with his unhappy experiences with courts of justice––and this inference is strengthened by his association with Denis Breen's mad hunt for a solicitor. 

In Scylla and Charybdis Joyce calls attention to Farrell's habit of regularly reading in the National Library. Stephen passes through the readers' room on his way out of the library and thinks, "In the readers' book Cashel Boyle O'Connor Fitzmaurice Tisdall Farrell parafes his polysyllables. Item: was Hamlet mad?" The verb "paraph," according to the OED, means "to sign, especially with initials," and as a noun it can mean "a flourish made after a signature, originally as a kind of precaution against forgery." The book that the real Farrell signed has not been preserved––Simpson notes that all the ones before 1910 are lost––but in Sackville Street Gogarty recounts his experience of looking at one: "In the Signature Book, spreading fully in purple pencil across the page, was the signature of Endymion. It read, to our amazement: JAMES BOYLE TISDELL BURKE STEWART FITZSIMONS FARRELL" (9). The spreading purple loops he witnessed may account for Joyce's "parafes," and the long name strikes both him and Joyce as maniacal. Stephen thinks of Hamlet, perhaps wondering whether Farrell is really mad, or only acting a part.

The "James" that Gogarty included in his string of "polysyllables" was Farrell's given name, and the "Boyle" that both he and Joyce put there was his mother's maiden name, though he never used it in any signatures that Simpson has examined. It seems likely that Gogarty remembered some elements in the list inexactly, because there is no record of Farrell ever signing himself "Burke" or "Stewart" or being related to such people. Joyce's version––"Cashel Boyle O'Connor Fitzmaurice Tisdall Farrell"––displays similar inaccuracies, adding an "O'Connor" that has no connection to the man and substituting "Fitzmaurice" for "Fitzsimons." But both recollected versions approximate the truth: Farrell signed documents with appellations like "J. H. Oliver Cashel FitzSymons-Farrell" (1889) and "Cashel Fitzsymons Tisdall Farrell" (1912), sometimes ending the string of names with "Esquire" or "(Endymion)."

In Names and Naming in Joyce (1994), Claire Culleton repeats Gogarty's version of Farrell's "full name" and, picking up on one of Gogarty's observations about those names in Sackville Street, argues that "Joyce alters the name in Ulysses to exploit its historical suggestiveness" (46). Cashel, she claims, suggests "the prominent Irish ruin" (46). Joyce deleted "Burke" and "Stewart" because Thomas Henry Burke and Charles Stewart Parnell were Protestants, and he substituted O'Connor, "suggesting Daniel O'Connor, the Liberator, and Rory O'Connor, the last high king of Ireland. Joyce also changes the name Fitzsimons to Fitzmaurice, erasing the reference in Fitzsimons to Stephen Dedalus's father, Simon, and replacing it with a reference to Stephen's younger brother, Maurice" (46-47). There may be some truth in Culleton's many speculations about the name, but her multiple misstatements of fact do not inspire confidence. Farrell's "full name" was not as Gogarty remembers it. "Burke" and "Stewart" were never in it, so Joyce could hardly have removed them. "Cashel" was, so he did not add a reference to the great medieval ruin. And the Liberator was O'Connell, not "O'Connor."

Joyce did not approach Farrell with the kindly (but condescending?) amusement that Gogarty did, but his portrait may not be entirely unsympathetic. Some empathic identification briefly shines through in Sirens when Bloom decides to take his own disturbing thoughts outside for a walk: "No. Walk, walk, walk. Like Cashel Boylo Connoro Coylo Tisdall Maurice Tisntdall Farrell. Waaaaaaalk."

John Hunt 2024

1908 ink drawing by C. H. Dempsey featured in Gogarty's memoir, Source: www.JoyceImages.com.

Another 1908 ink drawing by Dempsey, published by John Simpson courtesy of Noel Ross. Source: Dublin James Joyce Journal.

Photograph of Endymion, artist and date unknown, published by John Simpson courtesy of Seamus Kearns. Source: Dublin James Joyce Journal.