Lynam's

Lynam's

In Brief

In keeping with the many other passages in the novel in which Lenehan predicts (falsely) the winner of the day's Gold Cup horse race, he tells M'Coy in Wandering Rocks, "I want to pop into Lynam's to see Sceptre's starting price." Lynam's bookmaking business appears nowhere in the 1904 Thom's Directory so it was probably a black market operation. Judging by the walking path that Joyce describes for Lenehan and M'Coy in the tenth chapter, it seems to be housed on or just off "Temple bar."

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The two men are walking from "the tiny square of Crampton court," which is slightly east and two blocks south of the Grattan Bridge, to the Ormond hotel, just north and west of the bridge. The narrative shows them "Going down the path of Sycamore street beside the Empire musichall," heading north. But at "the Dolphin," a hotel and restaurant on the corner of Sycamore Street and Essex Street East, Lenehan takes them on a detour to the east: "— This way, he said, walking to the right. I want to pop into Lynam's to see Sceptre's starting price. What's the time by your gold watch and chain?" M'Coy responds to this jocose request by peering in the windows of a tea merchant on the corner of Essex and Eustace Street ("Marcus Tertius Moses' sombre office"), then looking to a clock posted on the wall of a second tea merchant across Eustace Street ("O'Neill's clock"), and reporting that it is now "After three."

This means that on London time it is after 3:25, so, as Gifford points out, "the race has already been run; but the news, which was to come by telegraph, was not due to reach Dublin until 4:00, so Dublin bookmakers would still take bets at 3:00." Lenehan leads M'Coy forward and leaves him waiting "in Temple bar," the continuation of Essex Street East going east. He returns a moment later, reports that it's "Even money," and then directs him "Through here," into the narrow passageway that leads from Temple Bar to Wellington Quay. After going "up the steps and under Merchants' arch," they are looking at the metal pedestrian bridge usually called the Ha'penny Bridge, but Lenehan and M'Coy do not cross the river here. Instead they turn west toward the Grattan Bridge: "They crossed to the metal bridge and went along Wellington quay by the riverwall."

In an essay on "Lynam's" on James Joyce Online Notes, John Simpson observes that in 1904 British law "imposed severe restrictions" on betting. It was "essentially only legal on racecourses or (through bookmakers or their ‘commission agents’) on credit. It was illegal to hand over cash—in the street, or in a private or a public house, in order to place a bet," but the  practice was nevertheless"rife" in Dublin. In a 1902 government report one of the people interviewed by the commission testified, "I understand there are a number of boys employed here in Dublin by newspapers, who go out early in the mornings with betting sheets—I think they call them tissues—and they take these to the public-houses, and I think that is a very bad thing."

Simpson observes that the 1901 census recorded a bookmaker named Richard Lynam living at 90 Lower Gardiner Street, a sketchy part of town. In the 1911 census he had moved to Mountjoy and no longer reported an occupation, but his younger brothers Denis and Patrick lived nearby and described themselves respectively as "bookmaker" and "commission agent." The three Lynam brothers were tough customers ("Dick" was a former boxing champion) known for their connections to horse racing. In the 1870s their father Patrick, who had a police record, lived at number 2 Lower Fownes Street, a one-block street running between Temple Bar and Wellington Quay that Lenehan and M'Coy pass on their way to Merchant's Arch. He too worked as a bookmaker.

Patrick Sr. died in 1895, so it is hard to understand Simpson's suggestion that "we should also consider the possibility that it was their father Patrick to whom Lenehan turned in Ulysses." But his connection to Lower Fownes Street provides good evidence that the Lynam family may have conducted business on this street or in some other location very close to Temple Bar. Simpson has discovered stories in 1904 and 1907 issues of the Irish Times which mention three police reports of illegal betting operations run on or near Temple Bar.

JH 2022
  Photograph of a Dublin betting shop held in the Dublin City Council Archive, date unknown but probably considerably after 1904. Source: thecurrency.news.
The path walked by Lenehan and M'Coy in Wandering Rocks, as charted by Ian Gunn. (This map, used with Gunn's permission on JJON, differs very slightly from one published in Gunn and Hart's James Joyce's Dublin.) Source: www.jjon.org.
  William York Tindall's 1950s photograph of the approach to Merchant's Arch from Temple Bar. Source: The Joyce Country.
  Enda Cavanagh's recent photograph of a busker performing in Merchant's Arch. Source: www.endacavanagh.com.
Tindall's photograph of the metal bridge as seen from Wellington Quay. Source: The Joyce Country.