Francis Irwin, TCD, in the fusty world of Garrett Deasy

U 16.157-9: — There’ll be a job tomorrow or next day, Stephen told him, in a boys’ school at Dalkey for a gentleman usher. Mr Garrett Deasy. Try it. You may mention my name.

Francis Irwin is still a rather shadowy character in the Dublin mythology of Ulysses, though he is mentioned in many of the classic texts which help us to understand the novel and its background. Richard Ellmann introduces Irwin to us in his biography of Joyce, because Irwin ran the small, private school, Clifton School, at which Joyce worked for a short while as a teacher, in the first half of 1904. In the novel it is, of course, Stephen Dedalus who is briefly employed as a "gentleman usher" or assistant master by Deasy:1

[Joyce’s] next venture was as a schoolteacher. There was a temporary vacancy for a gentleman usher at the Clifton School, Dalkey, a private school founded a few years before at Summerfield Lodge […] The founder and headmaster was an Ulster Scot, very pro-British, named Francis Irwin, a Trinity College graduate. Joyce devotes the second chapter of Ulysses to describing Stephen’s activities at a school clearly modeled on Irwin’s.

Richard Ellmann James Joyce (1982), pp. 152-3

Dalkey and Killiney (Ordnance Survey of Ireland: 1948)

(Ian Gunn)

Herbert Gorman, Joyce’s first biographer, links Irwin with Trinity College, Dublin, as well as commenting on the significance for Joyce of his first real job as a teacher:2

Joyce secured a position teaching at Clifton School, Summerfield Lodge, Dalkey Avenue, Dalkey, under a headmaster named Francis Irwin, T.C.D. He taught there for about four months. Both the place and the job are of interest in a consideration of Joyce's life and work. If we except his brief language-lesson experience in Paris, it was his first attempt to exist by teaching others, a form of livelihood that was to be his sole means of precarious support for many future years.

Garrett Deasy was significant enough as a fictional character for Robert Adams to discuss him at length, along with Boyd and Father Commee, in the first chapter of his Surface and Symbol, to illustrate characters whose real life can magnify the imaginative fiction of the book. Adams writes:

I have selected three passages of Ulysses where the possession of background information gives to one’s reading a special measure of direction, outline, and point.

Robert Adams, Surface and Symbol (1962), ch. 1 p.10

Vivien Igoe’s Real People of Joyce’s Ulysses (2016) offers a very useful summary of what we know about Irwin, reminding us that although he attended Trinity College, Dublin, "there is no record of his graduation" and (from the Irish census) that he lived with his old, widowed sister Anna (also Anne) Jane Knox Gore, at 4 Derrynane Terrace, in Dalkey (p. 78).

Irwin contributed much to the character of schoolmaster Garrett Deasy, but not everything. Another significant influence was Henry Blackwood Price, who persuaded Joyce in 1912 to promote a cure for foot-and-mouth disease to the newspapers (the request Garrett Deasy makes of Stephen Dedalus). But this article looks specifically at the establishment and ethos of Clifton School, Dalkey, and at the life of Francis Irwin, as far as it can be determined from available surviving records, and corrects some of the misapprehensions apparent in current accounts of the school and of Irwin’s life, as well as investigating how Joyce might fit into this story.3

The early life of Francis Irwin

Francis Irwin (also Irvine) was born around 1860 in County Fermanagh or, according to some accounts, in Clogher, County Tyrone, now Northern Ireland, the son of Andrew Irvine, a "gentleman" and member of the Royal Irish Constabulary.4 His sister Anna Jane was born several years earlier, around 1852, in Irvinestown, County Fermanagh.

Little is known about Irwin’s early life. He was presumably present at the marriage of his sister Anna Jane (spinster, aged 25) on 22 August 1876 at Kingstown (now Dún Laoghaire), County Dublin to George Edward Knox Gore. Gore was then a bachelor and Captain in the Royal Navy, aged 55, and the son of James Knox Gore, former MP for New Ross, County Wexford. The couple lived at the Knox Gore home of Gore Lodge, Glenegeary, Kingstown, County Dublin, near to Dalkey and KIlliney.

We catch up with Irwin again a few years later in the 1881 England census, unmarried and aged 21, lodging with fellow schoolmaster George Tyler of Oxford at 43 Grove Road, Upper Holloway, Islington in London.5 It is most likely that both taught at nearby Tollington Park School, Islington – which had strong Irish connections, taking many students over the years as trainee teachers. Tyler’s sister married a Dubliner and he later became Assistant Head at Tollington Park School.

After what we might assume to be a year’s residence in London as a trainee teacher, Irwin returned to Dublin to enrol in January 1882 (still aged 21) as a student at Trinity College. As a "pensioner" he did not receive a grant (unlike a sizar or a scholar), but relied on his own funding, probably living in digs around the city. The entrance register for the College gives his religion as "I[rish] C[hurch]" and his previous education as "I. C. Training" [perhaps "Intermediate Certificate Training", or teacher-training]. His tutor is recorded as the mathematician "Mr Cathcart".6

Irwin’s career at Trinity College was not distinguished. Unlike other students in his year, he is not listed as taking examinations in his first term (Hilary, 1882), though he is listed as under the supervision of George Cathcart. In the summer term he scored four out of ten for his viva voce Euclid exam (but 2 in the following Christmas-term exam), only one in the Trigonometry paper (0.5 at Christmas) and a creditable six in Algebra (4), four in Classics (2 and 3), four in his Greek viva (2) and three (3) in the Latin viva, with four each (6, 2) in his English and Latin Catechism. With marks tumbling in the Christmas-term exams, and with no evidence from the records that he ever attended lectures, his time at Trinity was limited. He did return, as a Senior Freshman, in 1883, but a brief note in the register reads "Off June 83", at which point his active association with the College appears to have ended.7 The next record of Francis Irwin occurs around the time of the 1901 Ireland census. But before then, we should investigate the establishment of the Clifton School, of which he was in due course to become headmaster.

The establishment of Clifton School

Francis Irwin was not the founder of Clifton School, as some sources maintain. In 1889 the Irish Times carried an advertisement for a large house called Clifton (House) to be let in Dalkey. The house was well equipped, with seven bedrooms, stabling, and a tennis court:

To be Let, Furnished, from the 1st of August, Clifton, Dalkey, standing on 2 acres, nicely planted, commanding fine sea view; 3 sittingrooms, 7 bedrooms, servants’ room, pantries, &c.; stables, tennis court: 8 minutes tram or train. Apply to Mr Casey, Post-office, Dalkey.

Irish Times (1889), 13 July p. 7

Clifton House, the original location of Clifton School, approached from Coliemore Road, Dalkey, running north/south towards the right of the map (Ordnance Survey Ireland (revised 1908). (Reproduced from a map in Trinity College Library, Dublin, with the permission of the Board of Trinity College.)

Clifton, or Clifton House, as it was also known, was originally located at No 64 Coliemore Road, Dalkey. The house was in the possession of Edward Hamilton, M.D., F.R.C.S. (according to Thom’s Directory) in 1890 and 1894: Hamilton practised at 120 Stephen’s Green in the centre of Dublin. But the house remained empty, or enjoyed only occasional occupation, as it was advertised to let on various occasions between 1890 and 1893. In mid 1893, its future appeared settled, and its commodious rooms and grounds were converted for use as a school:

Dalkey, Killiney, Bray – An Oxford Honorman, assisted by competent staff, proposes opening Classes in Classics, Mathematics, Modern Languages, about 7th August, at Dalkey, for Universities, Army, Navy, Juniors, Public Schools, and Intermediate [examinations]; can undertake Private Tuition at once; highest references exchanged. For terms apply T. P. W., Clifton, Dalkey.

Irish Times (1893), 28 June

"T. P. W." were the initials of Thomas Preston Walsh, the founder headmaster of Clifton School in Dalkey, though at the time living and offering tuition in nearby Killiney. The new school apparently had impressive credentials, teaching ambitious subjects for a wide range of examinations. Walsh was eager to market the solidity and competence of his teaching staff, led by himself, an "Oxford Honorman".

Walsh, born in 1857 and the son of Thomas Prendergast Walsh, had graduated from the University of Oxford with a second-class degree in Indian Languages in 1892 (he was "Non-Collegiate", or not affiliated to a particular college). His father was a soldier (Bombay Grenadiers) and servant of the East India Company, and son Thomas had been born at sea in the Indian Ocean, a fact he highlighted in his 1901 census entry by remarking "Wasn’t born in any Country", after which a tired census official had confirmed "All Right". Young Thomas Walsh had apparently entered military service in India, serving as a Lieutenant and contemplating commanding a company or joining the Staff Corps, before transferring to university.8

The drive leading to Clifton House, 64 Coliemore Road, Dalkey

At Clifton School, Thomas Walsh was "Preston Walsh", or "Mr T. Preston Walsh". He continued to advertise for pupils, emphasising the quality of his staff, the suitability of the school’s location and facilities, and the fact that it accepted both day or boarding students:

Clifton, Dalkey, County Dublin. Principal – Mr Preston Walsh (Honor, Oxon). Daily and Resident Tuition […] Instruction entirely given by Honor Graduates. Vacancies for Resident Pupils. Healthy situation, tennis ground, sea baths close to house.

Irish Times (1893), 5 August p. 3

In the following March, the school’s situation was specially noted in advertisements:

Clifton is a large house, with Tennis Ground (stabling for pony, if required, for resident pupil), Hot and Cold Water throughout, perfect Sanitation; two minutes from Dalkey Sea Baths (hot and cold), eight minutes from Station.

Irish Times (1894), 24 March

By this time, the school also offered "Individual Tuition, if required, for backward Boys". The Irish Times carried several advertisements for teaching staff, not necessarily full-time – which is perhaps relevant in the light of Joyce’s involvement with the school ten years later, and at a different site:

Assistant Master – University Man Wanted for Junior work two or four hours daily, morning; resident if preferred. Apply, personally or by letter, Principal, Clifton School, Dalkey.

Irish Times (1894), 22 September

Gradually the rather stiff, formal ethos of the school Francis Irwin moulded, Joyce joined, and Stephen experienced in the "Nestor" episode of Ulysses, is coming to light. One final advertisement from 64 Coliemore Road, Dalkey shows that Walsh was still emphasising the quality of staff, expanding the subjects available, and offering "Ladies’ Classes", on the sites at Dalkey and Killiney:

Dalkey, Killiney. Clifton School. Michaelmas Term, 1894 […] Classics and English Subjects – Under Double First Classic and English Literature.Mathematics and Science – Under Wrangler and Scholar, Cambridge University. Ladies’ Classes, Senior and Junior – Under the same management, but separate establishment for University and General Tuition in all subject. All Tutors and Lady Instructors Honor Graduates or Members of University.

Irish Times (1894), 26 September

Clifton school moves from Coliemore Road to Summerfield Lodge in Dalkey Avenue

Once Clifton School was established, Thomas Preston Walsh grasped the opportunity to expand into new premises. Accommodation became available at Summerfield House, 63 Dalkey Avenue, Dalkey, an imposing residence just uphill from the centre of Dalkey, which had once been the home of the poet Denis Florence McCarthy. When it had been previously advertised for lease in 1881, the Dublin Weekly Nation carried a detailed advertisement describing the house, side residence, and grounds, which can usefully be read with the later school in mind (the full text of the advertisement may be found as an Appendix to this article). According to Thom’s Directory of 1896, Walsh leased both Summerfield House and the associated Summerfield Lodge, bringing the name of the school with him from Coliemore Road.

Summerfield House, 63 Dalkey Avenue, Dalkey.

Reproduced from a map in Trinity College Library, Dublin,

with the permission of the Board of Trinity College.)

An announcement that the school had moved to Summerfield House was published in the Irish Times of 9 January 1895, emphasising its extensive playing fields:

Clifton School. For Resident and Daily Pupils, Removed to Summerfield House, Dalkey Avenue.

The School has been removed to greatly enlarged Premises; completely detached; large playgrounds, garden, &c.; the sanitary arrangement [is] perfect.

The location of Summerfield Lodge within the grounds of Summerfield House is uncertain: the house is sometimes just called "Summerfield". The Lodge is not marked as a separate structure on contemporaneous maps, and so may well have been a sub-division of the main house. The distinction between Summerfield House and Summerfield Lodge predates Walsh’s arrival, as Thom’s Directory notes two households, one in "Summerfield" and a second in "Summerfield Lodge", in the early 1890s.

Robert Nicholson describes the house, and its proximity to the Martello tower where Stephen and friends were staying at the opening of Ulysses:

On the corner of Dalkey Avenue and Old Quarry, just a mile from the Tower, is a large, very rambling house named "Summerfield". It was once the home of the poet Denis Florence McCarthy (1817-82), whose Poetical Works are among the volumes on Bloom’s bookshelf […]

It is convenient to imagine that the handsome porch was the one referred to by Joyce, that a pocket-sized playfield might have been situated on the tennis court behind the trees to the right of the gate, and that the 'lions couchant' beside the garden steps were transplanted in Joyce’s imagination to the tops of the stone pillars at the gate.

Robert Nicholson, Ulysses Guide (2015), pp. 26-7

Summerfield House, photographed by William York Tindall in 1954

and included in his The Joyce Country (1972: p. 59),

by kind permission of Elizabeth Tindall Layton

The Times advertisement described the structure of the school, for prospective parents:

Branch Establishment. Senior and Junior Classes for Young Ladies (University Course, &c.) completely separate from the Boys’ School, under the same supervision and instruction.

Junior Department. There is a Junior Department for young children.

And finally, it reiterated the strength of the school’s leadership and teaching staff:

Founded 1893. Principal – Mr Preston Walsh, Honor Oxon. Senior Classical Master, Double/First Classics and English, T.C.D.; Senior Mathematical Master, 17th Wrangler and Scholar, Cambridge; assisted by a large staff of University and specially certified Tutors and Instructresses.

With such promising features, it is difficult to see how the school might not be a roaring success at its new location.

Clifton School under Preston Walsh

The school at which Stephen taught briefly in Ulysses boasts a strong sporting regime. From his school-room, Stephen hears the sounds of boys playing hockey after his class:

Hockeysticks rattled in the lumberroom: the hollow knock of a ball and calls from the field. (U 2:153-4)

and this emphasis on sport continues to be referred to in advertisements for the school at its new, enlarged site at Summerfield:

Clifton School, Dalkey – Vacancies for Boarders; salubrious climate, sea bathing, cricket, football, hockey; thorough public school education; Principal Oxford Honorman; all masters University men.

Irish Times (1895), 30 March

The end of a sports field at Summerfield House, photographed by William York Tindall in 1954

and included in his The Joyce Country (1972: p. 61), by kind permission of Elizabeth Tindall Layton

The school played sporting fixtures against other schools: cricket against Aravon School, Bray and Avoca School, Blackrock (whom they trounced at home in 1898), as well as hockey on their own grounds at Summerfield against local Oakland Rovers (the report was presumably submitted by Walsh soon after the match ended, in the interests of publicity for the school):

Clifton School (Dalkey) v. Oakland Rovers. – Played at Dalkey on Saturday, and resulted in a win for Clifton School by two goals (R. Wright and Scaife) to one goal.

Irish Times (1898), 31 October

Advertisements for teachers at the school, such as Joyce temporarily became, appear with some regularly in the Dublin papers (predominantly in the Irish Times):

Wanted, Teacher, German and Drawing, 2 hours, twice weekly. Apply, by letter, Clifton School, Dalkey.

Irish Times (1896), 29 September

Assistant Master required: elementary, Latin, French, and Mathematics, drawing indispensable; three hours and a half daily: small class junior boys. Tennis &c. Master, Clifton School, Dalkey.

Irish Times (1900), 17 August p. 8

But the redoubtable Preston Walsh was apparently unwell and struggling. Thom’s Directory shows that although he occupied Summerfield House and Summerfield Lodge in 1896, he is not listed as the principal occupant of either in succeeding years. From 1897 until 1900, the main house was occupied by William Ross, Esq., and the Lodge by Wilfred H. Blissard, B.A. Cantab. It seems that the school no longer occupied Summerfield House, as originally advertised in the newspapers, but only the Lodge. The advertisements make no further mention of a "Principal" of the school, but sometimes of a Master, and the implication may be that Walsh gave way to Blissard around 1897, before the arrival or promotion of Irwin.

Walsh’s time was limited. In the 1901 Ireland census, he still lived in Dalkey, but seemed no longer involved with the school. Instead, he lodged at Swansea Terrace, aged 44 and an "Oxon. Undergraduate", without reference to any teaching duties. He married in 1902, but died at 2 Cassandra Villas, Bray, on 19 January 1903.

Francis Irwin at Clifton School

The headmaster Garrett Deasy portrayed by Joyce in Ulysses is not based entirely on Francis Irwin, as noted above, but there are some similarities between the two, and especially between Clifton School and the school at which Stephen taught in the novel. The similarities with Irwin may not be brought out closely in the novel: Joyce has Deasy as an old man ("you may think me an old fogey and an old tory", "I remember the famine in '46", "He turned his angry white moustache", etc.), because of his role as Nestor. We can tell little of Irwin’s personality and leadership style from the known events of his life, and Deasy is to some extent a stereotypical old-style headteacher struggling to keep his little school going. Irwin is unmarried and living with his sister, and Deasy is married. But Deasy is "Protestant", and Irwin’s "Church of Ireland" is historically associated with Anglican Protestantism. Ellmann places Irwin as an "Ulster Scot", and Deasy remarks:

I am a struggler now at the end of my days. But I will fight for the right till the end.

For Ulster will fight

And Ulster will be right.

Irwin shares some similarities with Deasy, but the strongest point of contact is that they were both headmasters of the school where Joyce/Stephen were temporarily employed.

It is not known when Francis Irwin joined Clifton School, but Thom’s Directory shows "Irwin, Francis, T.C.D." as the principal occupant of Summerfield Lodge from 1900. Wilfred Blissard had left to join his sister Ida’s "Young Gentleman’s School" in Apsley Road, Clifton, Bristol as a "schoolmaster".9 Next year, the 1901 Ireland census locates Irwin at the same address, living with his widowed sister Anna Jane Knox Gore and a family servant. Irwin is aged 39, his religion "Church of Ireland", his place of birth "Co Fermanagh"; he is not married, but describes himself as a "Mathematical and Classical Tutor". His sister is aged 49, of the same religion and birth-place, and is described as a "Lady".

By this stage, Irwin appears to have taken over the headship of Clifton School, either from Walsh or Blissard. The situation and ethos of the school is similar to that roughed out in Ulysses, but it is mysterious that Irwin still purports to be a graduate of Trinity College, when this would have been relatively easy for any mistrustful parent or disgruntled schoolboy to disprove. But to admit that he was not a graduate would have been to upset the narrative of the school that had been presented relentlessly to prospective parents by Walsh in the past.

Irwin’s time at Clifton School, Summerfield Lodge, may not have been entirely happy. The newspapers reported an unfortunate incident at the school towards the beginning of the Christmas term, 1902. The incident was described as a case of false pretenses: John Ivy, pretending to be a Major McKenzie of Newbridge, paid a call on Irwin at school, saying that:10

He had a delicate boy of 13 years of age, and that he wished to send him to a school at the sea side. Witness said he did not keep boarders.

During their discussion, "Major McKenzie" told Irwin that on the way to Dalkey his purse had disappeared, and he asked Irwin for £2, which Irwin paid "as he did not wish to lose business". He was not repaid, and it transpired that this was only one of several similar scams that John Ivy had perpetrated across Dublin, posing variously as "Major McKenzie", "Colonel Hamilton", "Colonel Harris", and "Colonel Wesley". Irwin noted, in the newspaper reports, that his school did not take boarders, which suggests a further curtailment of his aspirations.

It is likely that the school entered a decline, and Irwin soon moved it on from Summerfield Lodge. On 2 January 1904, the following notice, typical in format of many school notices of the day marking the start of a new term, appeared in the Irish Times:

Clifton School, Dalkey. Business will (D.V.) be Resumed at Cintra, Vico Road, Dalkey, January 15th.

Irish Times (1904), 2 January

Cintra (labelled here as "Sorrento Lodge", at the eastern end of Vico Road.

(Reproduced from a map in Trinity College Library, Dublin,

with the permission of the Board of Trinity College.)

Vico Road (pronounced /ˈvʌɪkəʊ/ in British English) is a long, picturesque coastal road south of central Dalkey. "Cintra" is the first house on the eastern end of the road, overlooking Killiney Bay, but it had no space for sporting activities of the type described by Joyce. When the house was sold in 1939, it was described as:

[an] excellent, pre-war, detached, non-basement house […], standing in beautiful garden; 2 reception, 5 bedrooms, bathroom, [etc.].

Irish Independent (1939), 4 May p. 17

Cintra, on the corner of Sorrento Road and Vico Road, Dalkey

(by kind permission of Robert Nicholson)

The house was taken in 1904 in the name of Irwin’s sister, not in Irwin’s own name. Ellmann mentions what was presumably a contributory factor in the move from Summerfield Lodge:

Joyce represents Deasy as a grass widow, although […] Irwin was a bachelor who lived with his sister, but in other respects treats him indulgently, sparring, for example, any mention of his red nose, or the shutting down of the school soon after because of Irwin’s alcoholism.

Richard Ellmann James Joyce (1982), pp. 152-3

Ellmann had told this story earlier, in the Kenyon Review of 1954:

The real Mr. Deasy was Francis Irwin, who had the Clifton School at Dalkey. This school "was closed at the end of the term in 1904, because the owner of the buildings and grounds was unwilling to put up with his chronic drunkenness. Joyce has entirely suppressed this aspect of Irwin’s character".

Kenyon Review (1954), vol. 16 p. 356

Clifton School did not close in 1904, while it was at Summerfield House in Dalkey Avenue, but moved its premises to the less-suitable location of Anna Knox Gore’s new home in Vico Road.

The school was still advertising for pupils in the Irish Times in 1906. But by now there is no mention of female pupils, and there is no emphasis of the quality of staff or entrance examinations for which the pupils are being primed:

Dalkey – Clifton School, Vico road, re-opening Tuesday, September 4th; young and backward Boys advanced rapidly; terms moderate.

Irish Times (1906), 24 August p. 3

Life was still not easy for Irwin, and another incident offers some sidelight into his character. In September 1906, the Dublin newspapers published reports of a police-court case in Kingstown involving Irwin and his neighbours. A tobacconist named O’Grady, one of the wardens of the Rathdown Poor Law Union to which Dalkey belonged, had refused to give a sick woman a ticket allowing her medical relief on the local rates. The issue had stirred up discontent in Dalkey, and Irwin creditably supported the woman, though (according to the newspaper reports) rather intemperately. An alternation took place on Sorrento Road, near Irwin’s school, between Mr Richard Eyre Powell, Mr Hardy, and Irwin:11

Mr. Powell stated that while speaking to Mr. Hardy on the Sorrento road Mr. Irwin came up, and addressing witness said "That is a nice thing that low-bred cur O’Grady did" [and added that] "a skewer should be run through his guts, and he should be made an example of […] Anyone who went into O’Grady’s shop should get the same treatment."

The allegations continued, and Irwin issued a counter-summons, denying the witness’s evidence, but the judge dismissed both summonses, saying that if anyone had cause to issue a summons it was Mr O’Grady himself, and not Messrs. Powell or Irwin.

By 1908 Thom’s Directory no longer records "Mrs. Knox Gore" as the occupier of Cintra on Vico Road, and according to the 1911 Ireland census Francis Irwin ("Head of Family", "Church of Ireland", aged 52 and born in "Co Tyrone", single, and a "tutor") lived with his widowed sister Anna Jane Knox Gore (now a member of the "Plymouth Brethren", living on private means) at No 4 Derrynane Terrace, Convent Road, Dalkey. Anna Jane Knox Gore died in the house in Derrynane Terrace on 18 May 1915, in the presence of her brother, but no further certain record has currently been discovered of Francis Irwin.12

4 Derrynane Terrace, Convent Road, Dalkey

Joyce and Clifton School, Dalkey

Gordon Bowker states that Joyce took a part-time teaching job at the small private school in Dalkey at the recommendation of George Dempsey, his former English master.13 It seems likely that Joyce was employed at the school for several weeks: the experience was remembered vividly through Stephen’s eyes throughout the second episode of Ulysses.

Robert Nicholson reminds us that the links between Joyce and Clifton School are based on secondary evidence.14 Joyce does not discuss the experience in his letters, as far as we know. But this secondary evidence raises a niggling problem of chronology, as Joyce is supposed to have taught at Clifton School at Summerfield Lodge under Irwin in early to mid 1904 (during the hockey season), and yet the newspaper evidence indicates that Clifton School had moved from Dalkey Avenue to Cintra on Vico Road in late 1903 or early 1904.

What are we to make of this? Contemporaneous and second-hand evidence supports the likelihood that Joyce taught in Dalkey in 1904. Herbert Gorman says so explicitly, as cited earlier, and Joyce read the proofs of his biography. Gogarty states, in connection with his stay at the Martello tower at Sandycove near Dalkey in 1904, that "Joyce had a job at an adjoining school", and so Gogarty’s subsequent account located the year as 1904.15 Joyce is known to have visited his former teacher, George Dempsey, at his home in Rathmines, on 15 October 1903, and if this is when the possibility of seeking a teaching job arose, then 1904 would again seem likely.16

And yet the description of Clifton School, where Stephen taught, in Ulysses is undoubtedly Summerfield Lodge, rather than Cintra, the school’s subsequent site on Vico Road. Clifford Ferguson, identified by Ellmann as the model for the Clifton schoolboy Armstrong, lived on Vico Road, which Stephen dismissed as populated by "welloff people", in a way that suggests that Armstrong did not live on the same road as the school. The advertisement noting the move to Cintra in January 1904 read that "Business will (D.V.) be Resumed at Cintra, Vico Road, Dalkey, January 15th": the "D.V." [= "God willing"] suggests some uncertainty. If we accept that Joyce was writing from first-hand knowledge of the school, then the likelihood is that Irwin was forced to postpone his move to Cintra until later in 1904, and that he and the school remained at Summerfield Lodge for the short time Joyce taught there.

John Simpson


Advertisement for Summerfield House in the Dublin Weekly Nation of 3 September 1881, p. 16:





Highly Important to the Gentry and Members

of the Learned Professions,

or Parties requiring an unexceptionally desirable


which commands superb views of the Bay, and


To Parties Furnishing, and Others.


In Two and a Half Statute Acres [of] Land or thereabouts,

situate in


With the Houses and Grounds thereon,

Which must be admitted to be one of the most beautifully laid-out and admirably appointed establishments in the most select district of the rapidly rising Township of Dalkey.

The former proprietor, Denis Florence M‘Carthy, M.R.I.A., Poet Laureate of Ireland, and the late lamented proprietor, Thomas Keogh, Esq., each in their turn having spared no expense in bringing the entire property interiorly and exteriorly to the advanced state of improvement which only requires to be viewed to be desired by parties requiring a place which for beauty of design and completion in all respects hardly has an equal for its extent in Ireland.

The grounds especially have been decorated and planted with every ornamentation that artistic thought could devise or money procure.

The original house was enlarged, and new houses were erected by former and late proprietors, and it now forms two complete dwelling-houses, each replete with all accessories that modern improvement could suggest or comfort desire, as well as being commodious in every respect, and the side residence could be let off so as to leave the incoming owner rent-free in the front house.

The side residence contains drawing and reception-rooms, four principal bed-rooms, kitchen, with a range, &c., servants apartments, pantries, and china closets, bath-room, with yard, scullery, w. c., &c.

The latter has the conservatory attached, containing a choice selection of the most approved plants, and the three sides thereof look out on the pleasure grounds, which, for extent and variety are rare to be found in connection with any ordinary residence.

The walled-in garden, about one acre, is thickly planted, and bearing most luxuriant crops of fruit, peach, cherry, pear, apple, gooseberry, and currant trees, all trained into the form most approved by model gardeners. There is a very superior ornamental tea house.

The pleasure grounds, lawn tennis, and croquet divisions are each and all beautifully planted with shrubs and trees in variety.

There is a large field at rere, with cowhouse. The stable yard has gateway entrance, large aviary or fowl house, pigeon box, coach-house, with hay-loft over, three-horse stable, harness-room, two loose box stalls, patent iron piggery, tool-house, &c.

The gate-house or lodge has three apartments, yard, large water cistern, &c.

There are four entrances from the avenue, and a complete separation of the two residences could readily be made.


By directions of the Executrix of the late

Thomas Keough [sic], Esq.,


Upon the Premises,

The Interest in the Lease of all that and those the plots of ground numbered 1, 2, 3, and 4, on the map or terchant [for "the chart"?] thereto annexed, No. 1 containing half an Irish acre; Nos. 2 and 3 a quarter of an Irish acre; and No. 4 about the same quantity as No. 1.

The House, Offices, and Premises

Known as


With the gate-lodge, greenhouse, garden, and other improvements thereunto belonging; coach-house, cowhouse, and other buildings thereon.

No. 1 held for 31 years from 1st May, 1864, and Nos. 2, 3, and 4 held for a similar term of 31 years, provided the estate and interest therein of Denis Florence M‘Carthy and his representatives should so long continue, subject to the yearly rent of £100 [sic].

Sale to commence with the Interest in the Lease at One o’Clock. Waggonette, car, and horse at half-past One. Furniture at Two. Paintings and Drawingroom appointments at Three o’Clock. Residue of Furniture on following day.

Auctioneer’s commission to be paid by buyers.

Applications for conditions of Sale, cards to view, &c., to be made to


having carriage of Sale, 28 Bachelor’s-walk; or to





1 The term "Gentleman Usher" is normally applied to high-ranking officials in government administration; in Dublin, the expression was most closely associated with an official at the Viceregal Court. The OED defines "usher" (sense 4a) as "an assistant to a schoolmaster or head-teacher; an under-master, assistant-master". "Gentleman usher" is perhaps used ironically in Ulysses.

2 Herbert Gorman, James Joyce: a definitive biography (London, 1949), ch. 4 p. 114. This information is not included in Gorman’s James Joyce: his first forty years (New York: 1924).

3 I have made use of earlier, unpublished research on Irwin’s life in Dalkey by Harald Beck, Eamonn Finn, Ian Gunn, and Robert Nicholson, and others, though any conclusions drawn are my own.

4 The 1881 UK census and the 1901 Ireland census both give County Fermanagh as his place of birth, whereas the 1882 entrance register for TCD and the 1911 Ireland census give County Tyrone. The TCD register notes that his place of birth was "Clogher".

5 National Census of England and Wales: reference RG11/277/55/42.

6 Trinity College, Dublin Entrance Book ff. 55r/v (page 112 of 560) TCD MUN V 23/7 ( George Lambert Cathcart MA was a distinguished TCD mathematician, perhaps best known for his translation into English of Axel Harnack’s An Introduction to the Study of the Elements of the Differential and Integral Calculus (London and Edinburgh, 1891).

7 MUN V 29/6 Terms and Examinations: Trinity College, Class of 1881-2; MUN V 43/5 Records of Examinations for Honors and Prizes in Mathematics and Mathematical Physics; MUN V 29/6 Terms and Examinations Returns 1882; MUN V 30/41L; MUN v 30/42 Terms and Examinations Returns 1883; MUN V 31/12; MUN v 30/42 Terms and Examinations Returns 1883; MUN V 43/5 Records of Examinations for Honors and Prizes in Mathematics and Mathematical Physics; and the Dublin University Calendar (Dublin, University Press) (passim).

8 Freeman’s Journal (1881), 19 April.

9 National Census for England and Wales (1901): RG13/2367/141/10.

10 Irish Times (1904), 20 December p. 2. The incident was also reported on the same day in the Irish Daily Independent.

11 Dublin Daily Express (1906), 28 September.

12 Northern Whig (1915), 26 May.

13 Gordon Bowker, James Joyce: a Biography (London: 2011), p. 116. See also Peter Costello James Joyce: the Years of Growth 1882-1915 (1994), pp. 222-3.

14 Robert Nicholson Ulysses Guide (2015), p. 27.

15 Oliver St. John Gogarty, It isn’t this time of Year at all (1954), p. 69.

16 Roger Norburn, A James Joyce Chronology (2004), p. 17.

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