Gallant Michael Hart
U 17.1251-5: Of companions now in various manners in different places defunct: Percy Apjohn (killed in action, Modder River), Philip Gilligan (phthisis, Jervis Street hospital), Matthew F. Kane (accidental drowning, Dublin Bay), Philip Moisel (pyemia, Heytesbury street), Michael Hart (phthisis, Mater Misericordiae hospital), Patrick Dignam (apoplexy, Sandymount).
Michael (“Mick”) Hart, a friend of Joyce’s father John Joyce, appears in two guises in Ulysses: firstly as himself, as Bloom runs through a list of his departed acquaintances (see opening quotation); and secondly as one of the people who lent characteristics to Lenehan (“the parasite who speaks French”1). Lenehan had earlier made an appearance in “Two Gallants”, in Dubliners.
Mick Hart as himself
Bloom’s list of
departed friends includes “Michael Hart (phthisis, Mater Misericordiae
hospital)” (U 17.1254-5). Ellmann adds
Hart “was dead by about 1900”. By the time of Bloomsday in 1904 the young Mick
Hart was indeed dead, having died of “phthisis” (pulmonary tuberculosis or something similar) on 27
April 1898. The death notice in the Freeman’s
Journal the next day tells us a bit more:
From this we can also see that he did not die in the “Mater”, as Joyce states, but nearer the river in the Jervis Street hospital. This factual error seems to have been simply an oversight of Joyce’s part.
certificate gives more information:
The character of Lenehan
Richard Ellmann tells
us that Lenehan is a composite character, whose name is borrowed from Matt
Lenehan of the Irish Times, but whose
personality comes from Michael Hart. Ellmann’s biographical summary of Hart
lists several facts:
1) He was fond of speaking French (hence his nickname Monsart = ‘Monsieur Hart’), and he wrote doggerel verses – mostly concerned with attempts to obtain money and credit at the bar.
2) He worked for the Dublin newspaper Sport (which was part of the Freeman stable).
3) As a racing journalist, he characteristically attended race meetings in “flashy attire”.
4) In “Two Gallants” he wished to marry a rich girl, and in real life unsuccessfully paid his addresses to the daughter of Joseph Nagle, an Earl Street publican.
5) His greatest day was when he “tipped the double” in verse, predicting the winner of both the Lincolnshire Handicap and the Grand National Steeplechase.
In addition to this, Joyce ascribes to Lenehan something of the character of an idling joker, forever fond of trivial literary and musical references bound up in word-play.
The real life of Michael Hart
Michael Martin Hart was born in 1859/60 in Sligo, the son of Patrick Hart and his wife Mary Anne McDonnell. The family lived at Collooney, Co. Sligo. His brother Hugh Stephen Hart was born in September 1860, his sister Catherine was born in 1864, and his younger brother Patrick Peter at Collooney in 1866. Sadly their mother died a few years later, in 1869.3
By 1877 Michael was
in Dublin, where he was placed high enough in the Civil Service entry examination
to gain a place as a Clerk in the Office of Works:
afterwards, he elected to transfer to the Education Office:
His brother Hugh – with whom Michael shared many interests, as we shall see - is also said to have entered the Civil Service.4
A family interest in running
Michael and Hugh – like several of the minor characters alluded to in Ulysses – took an interest in athletics. By 1882 both Michael and Hugh had joined the City and Suburban Harriers (C&SH) in Dublin. Hugh was always the stronger runner, typically given the lower handicap. The Freeman’s Journal for 6 December 1882 sees them both competing in the C&SH Members’ Five-mile handicap race:
In 1883 they both ran
for C&SH in the Cross-Country Championship of Ireland and were clearly no
slouches on the running track:
As well as running
themselves, both brothers also became involved as officials at the meets, with
Michael taking the lead in this as handicapper and racing judge:
The following year
Michael was mixing with the top brass at the Sport newspaper, for which in due course both he and Hugh worked:
Amongst this illustrious crew Fred Gallaher was the Editor of Sport and a vigorous promoter of sport (especially racing and boxing) in Dublin. Fred Gallaher is seen (partially) in the guise of Ignatius Gallaher in Ulysses. Daniel Kinsella (d. 1889) was Sport’s top racing tipster “Lux”. P. B. (“Sonny”) Kirwan (d. 1890) was another old Sport war horse. So Mick Hart was in good journalistic company at the weekly athletic meets.
In 1884 Mick Hart
switched clubs, joining the Civil Service Harriers, where his brother Hugh soon
joined him too (both had links – as we have seen – to the Civil Service in
Dublin). Mick Hart was often sacrificed as the “pacemaker”, when Hugh soldiered
on to the tape. In September 1885 Mick and Hugh were present as the
Irish-Canadian Athletic Team under the non-playing captaincy of Fred Gallaher
left Irish shores for their contests abroad:
Alongside the Harts and P. B. Kirwan of Sport we also find J. J. (“Jacques”) McCarthy– the doyen of sports writers on Sport (d. 1901), and Joe Nagle, with whose daughter Ellmann says Mick Hart was romantically involved.
Hugh Hart’s athletic career
Hugh’s own career in
athletics is important in its own right, but only tangentially concerns Mick’s
biography. Hugh became involved in the struggle over the “ownership” of Irish
athletics with the newly founded Gaelic Athletic Association, bitterly opposing
the wish of Michael Cusack to legislate for both codes. Hugh left the Civil
Service Harriers in 1886 for the Haddington Harriers, becoming known
particularly as the coach of two remarkable Irish runners, Tommy Conneff (U 12.181) and “Honest John” Purcell. All
three emigrated to America in 1888 and Hugh continued to coach Conneff as well
as running for the New York Xavier club. Hugh died in 1900. His brother Mick’s
involvement with Dublin athletics seemed to wane after Hugh left for America in
Hugh Hart (lounging front left) apparently with the prize-winners of an athletics meet in Dublin in mid 1886. Seated third from left is the legendary Tom Conneff, sporting three medals; seated centre is probably “Honest John” Purcell (Haddington Harriers), displaying eight medals – probably those won by him at the Caledonian Games in June.
Photograph: courtesy of the Hart family papers (Alison Sulentic)
Mick’s writing career
Mick Hart was writing for Sport from at least 1888 and probably, like his brother Hugh, from several years earlier. Except for the tipsters, who wrote under their pseudonyms, articles in Sport were unsigned, and so it is not possible to be confident of the authorship of particular pieces. Often the columns appear to contain material from a number of correspondents.
Mick doubtless contributed widely to the racing and athletic columns. A column called “Atoms” (or short “nuggets” of information) seems to have been pulled together by Denis J. Downing (“Dr Dick”) and we might see Mick Hart as the guiding presence behind the column “Squibs by Stroller”, which contained “Amusements”, typically of a literary and entertaining nature. “Athletic Notes” are another column with which Mick Hart would have been interested. In one such column, Sport has advance notice that Hugh Hart will soon emigrate – with a trace of French which may betray his brother Mick’s authorship:
It is not the case
that Sport drips with Hart’s French,
but from time to time it seems to peep through in a way one would not really
expect in a racing paper:
and soon after:
“Dr Dick” takes the
chance to compare “Jacques” McCarthy and Mick Hart:
Although Sport was predominantly a racing paper, it also covered other sports and, less expectedly, various aspects of the Dublin artistic and literary scene. Jacques McCarthy and others prepared a series of articles in 1888 primarily intended to entertain their readership, entitled “In Queer Places”, of which the first (on 28 January) was called “A Night on Nelson’s Pillar”.
Mick’s brother Hugh (probably under the pseudonym of “Edwin Doggerel”) was busy for three years from the mid 1880s writing the topical element of the annual Christmas pantomimes at Dublin’s Queen’s Theatre, managed by James Whitbread. With Hugh in America, Jacques McCarthy contributed the “topical” allusions to the Queen’s pantomime “The Fair One with the Golden Locks” in 1888.
As part of the
good-natured banter between the Sport newspaper
and the rival pantomime companies at the Queen’s and the Gaiety, Sport published a spoof article on 22
December 1888, probably written by Mick Hart. The headlines ran:
This would have come as something of a surprise to the pantomime-going public of Dublin. Michael Gunn was the lessee of the Gaiety Theatre. The newspaper article begins in sober style, but the first chinks of humour creep in for the initiated with the list of lawyers acting for both parties:
The farce continues for a full column, in which the forthcoming pantomime of “Cinderella” and its cast, sets, and music are described more fulsomely than in a regular review and with the backdrop of the spurious sideshow of the theatre’s destruction. To conclude, Sport concedes:
The mantle of pantomime-writer was passed to Mick Hart for “Dick Whittington and his Cat” in 1889, and we can see elements of his “well-known” jokey nature alluded to in the press notices:
The “book” – the text of the pantomime, handed to patrons as they arrived at the theatre – was written by the celebrated pantomime-writer Fred Locke, whose pantomimes had flourished the length and breadth of Great Britain and Ireland. The technique was for a local artist to be employed to spice up the text with comical topical allusions and songs.
Just before Christmas 1889 the pantomime was being advertised:
The review in the Freeman’s Journal of 27 December is one
of the fullest, and it refers specifically to the “puns, good and bad” which
one might expect from the Lenehan of Ulysses:
By now we can see
that the theatre manager James Whitbread is also credited in a roundabout way
with providing additional topical colour. As we have seen, Sport had a close working relationship with both James Whitbread at
the Queen’s and Michael Gunn at the Gaiety. The pantomime was avidly plugged in
Sport, and we can perhaps see Mick
Hart’s hand in that too:
followed a week later
Mick Hart’s puns and word-play were very familiar to his acquaintances. In Ulysses we come across them whenever we encounter Lenehan – see, for example:
what opera is like a railway line? (Rose of Castile/Rows of Cast Steel)
the first chapter of Guinness's
O, for a fresh of breath air!
Joe Nagle’s daughter and tips
Richard Ellmann reports that Mick Hart wished to find a rich bride, and in the course of this venture paid court to the daughter of Joseph Nagle, an Earl Street publican. The Nagle family were well-known in Dublin and are referred to in Ulysses (12.198, etc.). (James) Joseph Nagle was one of three brothers, the sons of Alderman John Nagle, who ran a public house and other businesses at an address in Earl Street, Dublin.
As James Joseph Nagle was only 39 in 1901 (census: 17 Rathdown Terrace), and unmarried, it is more likely that Mick Hart was unsuccessfully paying court to one of his sisters (Gertrude or Nano).
Details of Mick
Hart’s famous “tipping the double” in verse have not yet come to light, but the
tradition of forecasting winners in verse was alive at Sport. The main chance for this was in the short period when the
last classic of the steeplechase season (the Grand National) overlapped with
the first classic of the flat-race season (the Lincolnshire Handicap) at the
end of March. On 20 March 1886 “E.S” ended his prediction with this final
The race (the Grand National) was actually won by the 25-to-1 outsider Old Joe.
The last years
Mick Hart’s last
years were, as Richard Ellmann tells us, difficult. The body of journalists that constituted Sport’s editorial staff in the late
1880s and 1890s did not last: Gallaher left and died in England, Kinsella and
Kirwan died around 1890, “Dr Dick” died in 1909 aged 38; and “Jacques” McCarthy
died in 1901, having earlier fallen foul of the management and been dismissed
in 1893, leading to a court case in which Mick Hart took the witness stand:
When he died on 27
April 1898 the Freeman’s Journal remembered
one of its own with kindness:
Joyce is correct in stating that Mick Hart died on phthisis (pulmonary tuberculosis) but incorrect in saying that he died at the Mater Misericordiae Hospital.
Lenehan’s personality is said to derive in large part from Mick Hart. From the evidence of contemporary documents we can surmise that Hart is correctly characterized as a journalist with a delight in puns and other word-play, and he is probably responsible for the tint of French in Sport. His “doggerel verses” were also written for the pantomime stage of the Queen’s Theatre in Dublin, where his brother had preceded him (as “Edwin Doggerel”). As a sporting journalist his articles were unsigned, but there is no reason to doubt that he wrote at least on racing and athletics, and doubtless other sports, for Sport (and the Freeman’s Journal). He was as well known in the newspaper industry, however, for his literary side – bringing theatre news and reviews into Sport.
At each step Mick Hart does seem to have been rather outshone by his brother Hugh – in athletics, in pantomime-writing, and perhaps also in journalism. Hugh continued his journalism and literary work to a high level when he landed in America.
Michael Martin Hart was one of a substantial group of journalists who did not survive, or barely survived, into the twentieth century. That Joyce was conscious of time washing over the dead of his city is evidenced by the list of recently departed in which he includes Mick Hart.
Joyce's People >