Pat Claffey and the Dublin convents
U 8.153-4: Molly tasting it, her veil up. Sister? Pat Claffey, the pawnbroker’s daughter. It was a nun they say invented barbed wire.
It is possible to untangle this. Patrick Claffey was a successful businessman operating as a pawnbroker in Dublin in the mid to late nineteenth century. He was married to Margaret Grehan, and the couple lived first at 30 Nicholas Street in central Dublin, in Donnybrook, and then out at St Mary’s, Blackrock, on the coast south of Dublin on the way to Dalkey. Patrick’s offices were at 30 Nicholas Street and also at 65 Amiens Street.
They had a number of children, including three who became Dominican nuns: Lizzie (from 1883 in religion Sister Mary Bonaventura),1 Margaret (from 1886 Sister Mary Hyacinth),2 and Annie (from about 1888 Sister Mary Patricia). All three girls received their initial training in Bavaria (in the case of Annie, and probably of the others too, at Loretto Abbey, Burghausen, Upper Bavaria) before returning to Dublin.
In terms of Bloom’s acquaintance, we should probably not identify the pawnbroker’s daughter as Annie Claffey, who sadly died of influenza in Bavaria in 1890, at the age of twenty-one.3
Margaret is therefore more likely to be the daughter of Patrick Claffey whose path had crossed with Bloom.
The Freeman’s Journal printed a long and distinguished list of mourners, including Mrs Claffey, Sister Bonaventura Claffey, and Sister Hyacinth Claffey. Mrs Margaret Claffey remained in business as a pawnbroker in Dublin for several years after her husband’s death (see the 1901 Ireland census).
Freeman’s Journal (1893), 15 August p. 1
1 Freeman’s Journal (1883), 11 June.
2 Freeman’s Journal (1886), 16 April.
3 Freeman’s Journal (1890), 25 March.
4 Freeman’s Journal (1896), 28 December.
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