Professor Bloody-Big-Umbrella Glynn

SH 20.117-8: One of Cranly's friends came up the stairs while they were talking. He was a young man who was by day a clerk in Guinness's Brewery and by night a student of mental and moral philosophy in the night classes of the College. It was, of course, Cranly who had induced him to attend.

Cranly’s friend appears in both Stephen Hero and Portrait. In Stephen Hero he is at first called “O’Neill” and then, in the passage quoted above, he is referred to as “Glynn”. By the time that Portrait is published, he is “Glynn”. Marc A. Mamigonian and John Turner discuss the complexities:

The character is recognizable as Glynn in A Portrait (P 234-37), complete with umbrella. […] Joyce must have been napping here, for at SH 117.29 – 118.20, we are introduced to Cranly’s friend the "clerk on Guinness's" – again complete with umbrella – only this time around his name is Glynn.1

     Glynn seems to have been introduced under a pseudonym and then to have reverted to his real name. Mamigonian and Turner note that “a close reading makes it clear that Joyce has taken one person and split him into three slightly varying clerks".

     Patrick John O’Connor Glynn was a “clerk on Guinness’s” for many years from the 1860s until his death at the age of 51 in early 1900. His entry in the Irish Calendar of Wills and Administrations (1900: p. 185) reads:

20 March Probate of Will of Patrick John O’Connor Glynn late of 10 Ulverton-place Dalkey County Dublin Clerk Guinness’ Brewery who died 2 January 1900 granted at Dublin to Delia O’Connor Glynn Widow Effects £4,936 14s 4d.

     By 1890, Patrick Glynn held the senior position of Manager of the Cask Department at Guinness’s, a position he retained until his death.

Patrick Glynn was born around 1848 in Dublin, the son of Patrick Joseph Glynn and his wife Anne O’Connor. He joined Guinness’s in the mid 1860s, married Delia O’Donovan (originally from Philadelphia) in 1877, soon after the deaths of his parents, and the couple had a number of children. He is unlikely to have been known personally to Joyce, though – as we shall see - it would not be surprising if Joyce’s father knew him.

Joyce’s “Glynn” was a younger man, a contemporary of Cranly (Joyce’s friend John Byrne), who studied philosophy at night classes,2 discussed the Romantic poets, and had trembling hands. In Stephen Hero:

He spoke with nervous hesitations and seemed to obtain satisfaction only in the methodic stamp of his feet. He was a low-sized young man, with a nigger's face and the curly black head of a nigger. He usually carried an umbrella and his conversation was for the most part a translation of commonplaces into polysyllabic phrases. This habit he cultivated partly because it saved him from the inconvenience of cerebrating at the normal rate and perhaps because he considered it was the channel best fitted for his peculiar humour.

None of these personal characteristics seem to apply to Patrick Glynn. From his photograph he appears a rather impressive figure: 

Patrick John O’Connor Glynn

(By kind permission Mrs Tiffin Maguire)

He gradually moved south from central Dublin, to Upper Rathmines by the mid 1880s, then down to Sandycove, south of Blackrock on the road to Dalkey. In 1890 he was elected Honorary Secretary of the Dublin Bay Sailing Club, based in Kingstown (now Dun Laoghaire), a post which he held until his death.3 At this point we might note that John Joyce was also associated with the sailing and rowing fraternity of Dublin in the 1870s and 80s, where we find him “spinning his little yacht along the coast with a friend, and pulling in for a swim or a drink at Bullock Harbour or Sandycove with its Martello Tower and its bathing place, or jostling with other yachts within the two great arms of the piers at Kingstown”.4 Although not working for Guinness’s, John Joyce was at this time (the early 1870s) working at the Dublin and Chapelizod Distilling Co.

In the early 1890s Glynn was called to give evidence on behalf of Guinness’s to the British Government’s Select Committee on Railway Rates and Charges.5 His evidence is reported over sixteen pages, and appears to have been presented in a crisp and lucid manner. He betrays none of the nervousness that Joyce ascribes to him.

It seems that we can therefore safely disregard the suggestion that Joyce’s “Glynn” shares personal qualities with Patrick Glynn. There must have been some other reason for this animus, which we cannot now determine.

But the partial identification remains attractive for a number of reasons beyond the common surname. Firstly, both Glynns worked as clerks for Guinness’s. Secondly, it is possible to argue that Joyce’s nickname for him (“Bloody-Big-Umbrella Glynn”) is a syllable-for-syllable parody of Glynn’s full name “Patrick John O’Connor Glynn”). Joyce’s father would be the link, and John Joyce had connections with the brewery and sailing communities in Dublin at the time. Glynn did indeed have academic interests, so we should not rule out the style “Professor” comically accorded by Joyce: Patrick Glynn was a member of the Royal Society of Antiquaries of Ireland from 1892. Furthermore, his son Max was a pupil of Mary Ellen Callanan, daughter of one of Joyce’s mother’s Flynn aunts (see, amongst other texts, the final story in Dubliners: “The Dead”):

At the Misses Flynn's concert on Monday night Master Max Glynn (pupil of Miss Callanan) gave "The Parson and the Clerk" with some humour and taste that he was warmly applauded.

Freeman’s Journal (1892) 20 January

John Joyce and several other family friends and acquaintances sang at the annual concerts given in Dublin by the Misses Flynn.

It was said that Patrick Glynn never recovered from his son Max’s death in a boating accident in 1898. Max and a friend had been asked by Patrick to bring his boat Aroon back to Kingstown from the Bray regatta, where they had been racing it:

But, following their own inclination, the two lads disregarded the paternal warning, and set off by themselves in squally weather and with a heavy sea running.6

About two miles out from Bray the boat was lost. By a sad irony, Patrick Glynn had been Honorary Secretary of the local section of the Royal National Lifeboat Institution since 1895.7

Patrick Glynn died on 2 January 1900, and the death was well covered in the local newspapers:

The funeral of Mr Patrick O’Connor Glynn, who was so well and favourably known as honorary secretary of the Dublin Bay Sailing Club, and one of the chief officials in Guinness’s, took place yesterday in Dalkey, where the deceased gentleman resided for several years.

Freeman’s Journal (1900) 5 January

As chief of the cask department in Guinness’s Brewery, an important position he held for a very long period, Mr. Glynn showed exceptional powers of ability and organization.

Irish Times (1900) 5 January p. 2

John Simpson


1 Marc A. Mamigonian and John Noel Turner, “Annotations for Stephen Hero” in James Joyce Quarterly, Vol. 40, No. 3 (Spring, 2003), p. 412.

2 “Night classes” (= evening classes): this was a term particularly associated in Dublin in the early 1890s with University College (in Stephen’s Green), which Joyce later attended. The classes were advertised under this name from at least 1890 until 1896 (see, for example, Freeman’s Journal (1890), 23 September). The Professors of Mental and Moral Theology were leading figures at UCD at the time.

3 See Donal O’Sullivan Dublin Bay: a century of sailing 1884-1984 (Dublin Bay Sailing Club: 1984).

4 John Wyse Jackson and Peter Costello John Stanislaus Joyce (1998), ch. 8 p. 73.

5 1893-4 (385) First report from the Select Committee on Railway Rates and Charges; together with the proceedings of the committee, minutes of evidence, and appendix: Examination of Mr. Patrick John O’Connor Glynn (Tuesday 4 July 1893), pp. 191–207.

6 Belfast News-letter (1898), 13 August.

7 Freeman’s Journal (1895), 11 November.

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