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 that he wants to "pop into Lynam's" to learn the odds on Sceptre. Lynam's bookmaking business appears nowhere in the 1904 Thom's Directory so it was probably a black market operation, possibly run out of a home. Judging by the walking path that Joyce describes for Lenehan and M'Coy in that chapter, it seems to be housed on or just off Temple Bar.

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§ Heading toward Temple Bar, Lenehan tells M'Coy, "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 his jocose request by peering in the windows of a couple of tea merchants 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."

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 hard men ("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.

Given the locations specified in Wandering Rocks it would seem that the bookmaker whom Lenehan visits is the father, Patrick Sr., but in fact he died in 1895. Joyce may have been unaware of the details of his life or willing to prolong it in fiction (as he did for Ben Dollard), but it could also be that Lynam family members continued to make book in the Temple Bar area after the death of the patriarch. 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.

John Hunt 2022