U 5.560-1: Still Captain Buller broke a window in the Kildare street club with a slog to square leg.
The history of cricket is littered with tales of prodigious hits. At College Park, Trinity College, in Joyce’s day, the mythic hit was a massive slog over square leg, out of the ground and breaking the windows of the Kildare Street Club on the far side of Nassau Street.
Joyce ascribes such a hit to Captain Buller. Dublin was bristling with Captain Bullers in the second half of the nineteenth century, and it may never be possible to identify the particular batsman he was recalling.
The rough trajectory of Buller’s hit (Courtesy: Eamonn Finn)
In the following season Bob Lambert led the batting averages for the Leinster Cricket Club with the remarkable total of 1,458 runs in 28 innings, at an average of 69.4 (Sport (1899), 30 September, p. 8). He later went on to play for Ireland for many years.
Earlier hits in the same direction
The strike into the windows of the Kildare Street Club was clearly regarded as a legendary feat in Joyce’s day.
‘Dublin Week’ consisted of a week of cricket matches in Dublin, organized in both 1871 and 1872. It was a popular event, but unsuccessful financially. In July 1871 A. T. Young did indeed play for the Gentlemen of Ireland against the visitors Marylebone (the ‘MCC’) at College Park. He scored 14 and 3, but neither the Freeman’s Journal (which recorded it as a ‘poor match’) nor the Irish Times records that he struck the ball into Nassau Street. Perhaps he did, or perhaps he did not (does that ‘Still’ at the start of Joyce’s sentence suggest, in context, that he was thinking of an Irishman?). No Bullers were playing in that game.
Don Gifford, in his Notes for Joyce (1974) identifies a Captain Buller 'residing at Byron's Lodge, Sutton (a village near the Hill of Howth)', and listed in Thom's (1904) [p. 76]. John Kidd incorrectly notes that this is “Dublin’s only Captain Buller”. A 60-year-old (retired) Captain Buller, perhaps the same man, was living at 17 Kimmage Road, Rathmines at the time of the 1901 census (he died in 1906). Neither of these men appear to have been associated with cricket.
The only player found who was referred to as ‘Captain Buller’ in reports of the game in the late nineteenth century in Dublin was Frederick Charles Buller-Yarde-Buller, educated at Harrow, and commissioned as an Ensign and Lieutenant in the Household Cavalry (Coldstream Guards) in 1855.1 He was gazetted Captain in 1860 and served in Dublin until around 1871. He was 'a most kindly, genial sportsman and friends, and a quiet gentlemanlike rider to hounds' [C. J. Blagg, History of the North Staffordshire Hounds (1902), p. 163], who married in 1881, and served with distinction in Egypt, before dying suddenly back in England in 1884. He had changed his name to Frederick Charles Manningham-Buller in 1865, when his father (at some time MP for Stafford) was raised to a baronetcy. As a cricketer F. C. Buller seems to have had more success as a bowler than a batsman, but this would not necessarily preclude him from making the massive hit over square leg.
One would tend to the view that if one cricketer was being referred to by Joyce it was the dashing Charles Francis Buller, but Frederick Charles should perhaps be in the reckoning. On the basis of the report in the Freeman’s Journal of 30 June 1898, however, neither may be the cricketer most popularly associated locally with the prodigious feat of breaking the windows of the Nassau Street Club.
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