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Lynam

Popping into Lynam’s

 


U 10.504-20: At the Dolphin they halted to allow the ambulance car to gallop past them for Jervis street.
- This way, he said, walking to the right. I want to pop into Lynam’s to see Sceptre’s starting price. […] While he waited in Temple bar M‘Coy dodged a banana peel with gentle pushes of his toe from the path to the gutter. […] They went up the steps and under Merchants’ Arch.


It would be an exaggeration to say that debate has raged since the publication of Ulysses over the precise location of ‘Lynam’s’ on the roundabout route taken by Lenehan and M‘Coy from Crampton Court towards the Ormond Hotel. Gifford (Ulysses Annotated) sums up the situation:

Lyman’sThom’s 1904 lists no Lynam in the vicinity, but the implication is that the bookmaker’s shop was in Temple Bar.

      Betting plays a significant role in Ulysses and in Joyce’s Dublin generally. Society at the time imposed severe restrictions on the practice: betting 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.

        In recognition of the problem the Westminster Government commissioned several reports which had a bearing on betting. In 1902 the Street-Trading Children Committee (Ireland) presented its Report on the Employment of Children During School Age, especially in street trading in the large centres of population in Ireland, and the same year saw the publication of the Report from the Select Committee of the House of Lords on Betting. The Street Betting Act of 1906 reinforced already-stringent legislation by outlawing the making and taking on bets on the street and in other public places. Nevertheless, betting was ingrained in the lifestyle of the less-well-off, and it was rife in Dublin. The police seem to swing between crackdowns and periods of neutrality.

        Several responses from those worthies examined by the Street-Trading Children Committee in 1902 help to set the scene: 

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. (Paragraph 646)

        Stephen Hand bumps into a ‘telegramboy’ delivering ‘tissues’ in Ulysses: see Racing expresses and sporting tissues elsewhere on this site. Joyce knew the three Nagle brothers who ran various businesses from a Dublin pub. One of them (James Joseph Nagle: see for example U 12.198) was examined by the Committee:

I […] thought that it would be only fair to myself personally, and, of course, to my fellows [in the Vintners' Association] that a statement which would accuse us of conducting betting-shops would be set right, because we are, of course, all aware that betting in any house, and especially in public-houses, is against the law. (Paragraph 1353.)

        The question set by this article is “Where was Lynam’s?” where Lenehan discovered the starting price for Throwaway, and “Who was Lyman?” Joyce gives very little context, but it is possible to identify the Lynam family and Lenehan’s probable destination.

            The 1901 census offers help: Richard Lynam of 90 Lower Gardiner Street, North Dock, was a ‘bookmaker’. North Dock was then a rather seedy area of Dublin north of the river – containing the red-light district centred around Lower Mecklenburgh (later Tyrone) Street. Joyce’s father John knew the area as it had once been part of his rate-collection district, and James Joyce and his friends visited the area from time to time. Perhaps Richard operated out of a shop or office near Temple Bar at the time.

              By 1911 Richard is living at 9 St. Patrick’s Terrace, Mountjoy (the ward next to North Dock), but in the census he says he has no occupation. However, his younger brothers Denis (at 3 St. Patrick’s Terrace) and Patrick (20 Summer Street North, Mountjoy) are both in the betting game, and describe themselves as ‘bookmaker’ and ‘commission agent’ respectively.

             All three lived north of the river, whereas Temple Bar is just south, and it is quite possible that they were known to use rooms or offices there. And there is ample evidence that illegal betting was conducted in the Temple Bar area of Dublin in the early years of the twentieth century:

Betting Prosecutions. On Saturday in the Southern Police Court […] Edward McCaffrey attended on summons [that he] carried on betting transactions on the public thoroughfare in Lower Fownes’s street [off Temple Bar] […]

Constable Barker deposed that in plain clothes he watched Fownes’s street between 12 and 2 p.m. on the 15th instant, and saw M’Caffrey receiving dockets and money from several persons on the public thoroughfare… On the 16th instant witness saw about 30 persons going to defendant and handing him money and dockets… Mr. Swifte imposed fines of £5 for each day…

Irish Times (1904) 27 June


Police Raid on Alleged Betting House. In the Southern Police Court yesterday, before Mr. Drury, Matthew Hamilton, betting man, was charged [...] with being the occupier of a shop and front parlour in the house No. 3 Temple Bar, and using them for the purpose of betting on horse racing with persons resorting thereto between one and two p.m. on the 21st instant.

Irish Times (1907) 22 August 3

            It is feasible that any of the Lynam boys were running unofficial betting operations in any of these – or other – places in the locality, but given the brevity of Joyce’s allusion is does not seem possible to pick out one brother as a more likely source than the others. All were in trouble with the law throughout their early lives, as shown by the Dublin prison registers recently published online. This, for example, is Richard (‘Dick’) Lyman (sometimes Lynagh or Lynach) in 1902:

Richard Lynam, [age] 31,[height]  5 11 ¼, [Hair] Bro, [Eyes] Gr[ey], [Complexion] F[re]sh, [Marks] Large nose, cut over left eyebrow, [born] Moore St, [current address] 31 Annesley Ave, off N. Strand, [next of kin] Wife Winifred Lynam, [occupation] Com[missio]n Agent, M[ale], R[oman C[atholic], R[ead and] W[rite], [Admitted] Aug. 18, [Crime] Assault & beat, [sentence] 7 days, [note] Paid fine (of discharge)  18:8:02.

Mountjoy Prison General Register (1902) 18 August

          Richard was a large man. He was a leading light of the Dublin boxing fraternity in the 1890s, a middle-weight amateur champion and contemporary of Myler Keogh. Both he and his brother Denis were well-known figures in the underworld of Joyce’s Dublin, and (without describing any more of their youthful exploits) we can pass to the notices of their deaths for a retrospective of their careers:

Mr.'Dick' Lynam died in a Dublin hospital yesterday. The old generation of those who follow horse-racing in Ireland will learn with regret of his passing. A Dubliner, he received an English University education, and was first publicly known as a boxing champion 30 or 40 years ago. He soon took to the Turf, and was for many years one of the leading ‘outside’ bookmakers at Irish race meetings. He next joined the firm of McKenna, then at the head of the Ring. His association with racing lasted for close on forty years.

Sunday Independent (1933) 2 July, p. 2

 

The death occurred yesterday, at his residence, St. Patrick’s Terrace, Russell Street, Dublin, of Mr. Denis Lynam, a well-known figure in Irish and English racing circles.

As a commission agent he had been connected with Irish racing for close on half a century. He was the brother of the late 'Dick' Lynam, also well known in racing and coursing circles. He is survived by his wife and daughter.

The remains will be removed to North William Street Church this evening at 6. The funeral will take place to Glasnevin after 10 Mass to-morrow.

Irish Press (1941) 13 January, p. 2

            Gogarty knew ‘Dick’ Lynam well enough, at least by reputation. He includes Lynam in a piece of doggerel poetry, and lists him among the inhabitants of the Dublin underworld of his youth:

Dick Lynam was a likely lad,
His back was straight; has he gone down?

"The Hay Hotel" (a "Monto Poem") in Oliver St. John Gogarty Poems & Plays (2001) p. 454


The names of its brothel-keepers, bullies, and frequenters were typical of a city which, like Vienna, had forged for itself a distinct identity. There were certainly not Irish nor wholly English names. Dublin names, euphonious and romantic. Nora Seymour, Piano Mary, Dick Lynam, Becky Cunnian, Teasey Ward, May Oblong, Mrs. Mack, Jem Plant, Maggie Arnott and Liverpool Kate.

Oliver St. J. Gogarty As I was going down Sackville Street (1937) ch. 22, p. 301

            But although the Lynam boys were bookmakers and commission agents, we should also consider the possibility that it was their father Patrick to whom Lenehan turned in Ulysses.

            Patrick Lynam was the father of Richard, Denis, and Patrick Lynam. He was born around 1851 in Dublin. He too was in and out of trouble with the police in his youth, but gradually established himself as a ‘betting man’ or bookmaker, attending race meetings across Ireland and doubtless in England too.

City Sessions… A Mysterious Watch. – William Tisdall, James M’Donnell, William Harris, and John Dolan were indicted for stealing a valuable gold watch and chain from Patrick Lynam, and receiving it knowing it to be stolen… The complainant […] is a betting man, living at 26 Lower Temple-street.

The prosecutor [i.e. Lynam] was cross-examined by Mr Curran as to how he obtained money to buy the watch in question which was probably worth fifty pounds, and prosecutor in explanation, said he paid for it by instalments, that he had won the money over Liverpool races, and occasionally backed horses, and that he had house property.

Freeman’s Journal (1879) 18 July

 

Notice. The Curragh Races. We, the undersigned, on behalf of the general body of Bookmakers who bet outside the Ring at the Curragh, beg to give notice to our clients and the public that in future we will pay on the number hoisted by order of the Judge, and no objections will be afterwards entertained. By general consent - ..P Lynam, [etc.].

Freeman’s Journal (1889) 26 June, p. 7

            At the time of his early death in 1895 his bookmaking and other businesses seem to have been in decline, as his son Richard had to auction property belonging to Patrick in Lower Tyrone Street, Elliott Place, Upper Mercer Street, and Purdon Street, in the North Dock area of the city.

            Two additional points about Patrick Lynam stand out. Firstly, he lived with his wife Maria at No 2 Lower Fownes Street in the early 1870s. Lower Fownes Street is a short street which runs from Temple Bar up to the Liffey. Thom’s Directory shows that the only buildings with a Lower Fownes Street address were two tenements (owners or occupiers unspecified; other buildings on the street fronted directly on to Temple Bar in the south or Wellington Quay to the north). In 1873 the Freeman’s Journal tells us that:

Margaret Lynam, Fownes-street, refreshment-house keeper, appeared on an adjourned summons issued against her by Inspector Gallagher and Sergeant Keegan of the B Division, for that she allowed improper characters to congregate in her house, contrary to the Dublin Police Act. (18 July)

            Whether these ‘improper characters’ were betting men is not stated, but it seems a strong possibility. Patrick and his wife Maria are both stated as still living at 2 (Lower) Fownes Street in the Freeman’s Journal of 24 March 1875.

 

The route taken by Lenehan and M'Coy towards the Ormond Hotel from Crampton Court
Map by kind permission of Ian Gunn, University of Edinburgh

             The Lynam family’s property portfolio therefore extended to No 2 Lower Fownes Street. This is therefore likely to be the address at which Lenehan sought Throwaway’s starting price, while M‘Coy waited back in Temple Bar. Once Lenehan had rejoined M‘Coy they then proceeded a few more yards down Temple Bar before turning up the Merchants’ Arch passageway through to the quays.

            The second and final remaining point about Patrick Lynam concerns his wife Maria and her network of friends. Maria Nolan was also in trouble with the police on various occasions, it would seem, in the 1870s and later. By the late 1870s Patrick and Maria had moved to Lower Temple Street, in the Mecklenburgh/North Dock area of Dublin north of the river. Maria Nolan was one of Dublin’s ‘madams’ and according to Thom’s Directory for 1884 she was living in Lower Temple Street in the house next to ‘Mrs Cohen’.

John Simpson


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