Old Troy of the DMP

Old Troy of the DMP

In Brief

The "old Troy of the D. M. P." mentioned at the beginning of Cyclops was a real person, Denis Troy, who worked for most of his adult life as a constable for the Dublin Metropolitan Police. Since he was born on 10 August 1853, he would have been 50 years old in June 1904. It is not altogether clear, then, why Joe Hynes should ask, "Who's the old ballocks you were talking to?," or why the chapter's narrator should reply that it was "Old Troy" who "was in the force."

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In Real People Vivien Igoe reports that Denis was born to John Troy and his wife Mary, née Hennessy, "in the Slieve Bloom Mountains between Roscrea and Kinnity in Co. Offaly." She may be mistaken about the location, since on the 1901 and 1911 census forms Denis Troy listed his birthplace as Co. Tipperary. The village of Kinnitty is in County Offaly, on the western slopes of the Slieve Bloom, but the market town of Roscrea lies just over the border in County Tipperary, southwest of Kinnitty in a valley farther away from the mountains.

In 1884, now working in Dublin, Denis married Bridget Murphy, who was born in County Westmeath. According to Igoe he "was living at 42 Newmarket (off the Coombe) and Bridget was living at 48 Bellview near Ushers Quay. They moved to Arbour Hill after their marriage. Here they raised their family of five children. In 1904 they lived at 14 Arbour Hill and by 1917 had moved to 8 Arbour Hill." Ambiguity attends these addresses as well, because at some point in time all the houses on Arbour Hill were renumbered. The digitized records of the 1901 census at census.nationalarchives.ie show the Troys living at number 14, but those of the 1911 census show them living at number 7 rather than number 8. It seems that the house still had the lower number in 1911, but by 1917, the date cited by Igoe, it had been raised by one.

Troy had joined the DMP at age 27 in December 1880 and "was stationed," Igoe notes, "at Manor Street, which extends from Stoneybatter to Prussia Street." This accounts for the couple's decision to move to Arbour Hill and puts him in the right place, whether in uniform or not, to run into the chapter's narrator on the corner of Stoneybatter and Arbour Hill. The narrator's statement that Troy used to be in the police force is strange, though, because his DMP employment continued until his 67th birthday on 10 August 1920, when he was pensioned. Would he have been moved from street patrols to a desk job (or promoted to Inspector) by age 50, prompting the narrator to surmise that he was no longer "in the force"? Or did Joyce somehow confuse his information, attributing to the 1904 policeman an age more appropriate to the writing of Cyclops in 1919? The latter seems more likely.

In a personal communication, Troy's great-grandson Mike O'Connor reports that the five children of Denis and Bridget were those who remained from ten live births. He has tracked down records of four of the other five: Daniel (born 1892) died at the age of 1½, Patrick (born 1896) lived for only two months, Thomas (born 1899) died at 2½ , and Celia (born 1901) died after one month. Family and census records identify the children who beat these appalling odds—which, incidentally, are the same odds encountered by Leopold and Molly Bloom in their less ambitious production of offspring—as John (born ca. 1888), Francis (born ca. 1890), Gabriel (born ca. 1895), Michael or Augustine (born ca. 1898, with different names listed on the 1901 and the 1911 census), and Mary Kathleen (born 1903). The 1911 census also shows three adult boarders named Teresa, Joseph, and Margret Finnegan living in the Arbour Hill house. On these census reports Denis Troy identifies his family as Roman Catholic.

Mary Kathleen married Bernard ("Ben") O'Connor in 1932 and had four children: Dermot (born 1933), Mike's father Brendan (born 1935), Fergus (born 1941), and Vincent (born 1946, died 1950). Dermot O'Connor appears here in a photograph with his grandfather Denis, now well and truly "old" at an age somewhere beyond 85. The photograph was taken at the back of the house at 8 Arbour Hill, probably on the day of Dermot's first communion. Denis died not very long after, in 1943, and was buried in the Mount Jerome cemetery.

Mike O'Connor has generously shared the three family photos displayed on this page.

John Hunt 2020
Denis Troy and his wife Bridget, née Murphy, in a photographic portrait ca. 1890.  Source: Michael O'Connor.
Denis Troy with his grandson Dermot O'Connor, in a photograph taken behind number 8 Arbour Hill ca. 1940. Source: Michael O'Connor.
Gravestone in the Mount Jerome cemetery commemorating Denis Troy (d. 1943), his wife Bridget (d. 1945), their son Gabriel, Gabriel's wife Alice, and Mary Kathleen's son Vincent O'Connor. Source: Michael O'Connor.