In Brief

In Scylla and Charybdis Stephen thinks cryptically of "Cranly's eleven true Wicklowmen to free their sireland.... And one more to hail him: ave, rabbi: the Tinahely twelve. In the shadow of the glen he cooees for them. My soul's youth I gave him, night by night." These reveries recall his lost friendship with Cranly. Stephen's thoughts about his friend are focused by allusions to a play by John Millicent Synge, the Irish dramatist who surfaces four more times in this chapter about Shakespeare, and also by an incident in the gospels that undercuts Cranly's patriotism.

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Joyce did give his "soul's youth" to John Francis Byrne, in a long string of shocking confidences which Byrne received impassively in the manner of a father confessor. Byrne's own conversational offerings were more conventional: Ellmann notes that when Stanislaus Joyce scorned his ideas as commonplace, "the best defense James could think of was that they were 'daringly commonplace'; in a world of foppishness, Byrne had the courage to be plain" (64). One such assertion, detailed in the biography, was a remark that he "made to George Clancy; they agreed that twelve men with resolution could save Ireland, and Byrne said that he thought he could find twelve such men in Wicklow" (367). The first image included with this note shows Clancy and Byrne with Joyce during their time at University College, Dublin.

Although Byrne was born in Dublin, his father Mathew had been a farmer in County Wicklow until a fire devastated his properties and he took up shopkeeping in the city. Byrne fils loved to walk in the Wicklow hills; he went there regularly for spiritual sustenance. Given this personal attachment, and the extensive history of rebellions against English rule in the county, Byrne's idea of finding deliverance for Ireland in a band of "Wicklowmen" seems daringly commonplace. Someone (Cranly or Stephen?) calls them "the Tinahely twelve" after a small market town in County Wicklow on the eastern slopes of the mountains. In addition to its satisfying alliteration this moniker probably owes something to the fact that Tinahely was destroyed in the 1798 Rebellion. It sits on a walking route that Byrne no doubt traveled often. Today it is on the Wicklow Way, a maintained trail that starts in the southern Dublin suburb of Rathfarnham and winds south for many miles along mountain tracks, forest trails, quiet country roads, and unpaved grassy lanes.

Stephen imagines his friend making contact with his fellow travelers there, calling out to them with bird calls like the rebels who once sheltered in the Wicklow hills: "In the shadow of the glen he cooees for them." This fancy reflects Joyce's awareness of the seriousness of Byrne's dedication to Irish independence (in January 1917, after the Easter Rising, he published a long article titled "The Irish grievance: the case for the anti-English party" in Century Magazine). It also evokes Byrne's treks through the Wicklow hills by echoing Synge's In the Shadow of the Glen (1903), a one-act play set in a remote farmhouse in County Wicklow. In the play a vagrant seeks shelter in a cottage where a woman is tending the body of her dead husband. The husband is only playing dead, and when he sees a neighbor woo his widow he throws her out of the house. She heads off with the hobo, who assures her that she will be better off in the freedom of the countryside. 

§ One more literary text surfaces in Stephen's thoughts. Cranly's number twelve ("eleven true Wicklowmen" plus Cranly himself, presumably) appears to suggest that his band of patriots is motivated by a devotion like that of Christ's apostles. Stephen deflates this highminded idealism by sardonically adding his own twelfth to the group: "And one more to hail him: ave, rabbi." In the Vulgate texts of Matthew 26:49 and Mark 14:45 Judas hails Jesus in this way when he comes to betray him. Having told the Roman soldiers to seize the man he kisses, he then plants a kiss on Jesus' cheek. Irish history is all too faithful to biblical precedent: every rebellion has an informer lurking in its midst.

JH 2022
Photograph of George Clancy, John Francis Byrne, and James Joyce, held in the Southern Illinois University Library. Source: Ellmann, James Joyce.
Photograph of a scene from In the Shadow of the Glen performed in March 2009 at the Bank Street Theater in New Milford, Connecticut.
Source: www.kathygailmacgowan.com.
Detail from The Capture of Christ, a fresco by Cimabue in the upper part of the church of San Francesco in Assisi. Source: www.wga.hu.