John O’Mahony and the Language of the Outlaw

U 7.813–14: In ferial tone he addressed J. J. O’Molloy:

—Taylor had come there, you must know, from a sickbed.

The name ‘John O’Mahony, B. L.’ appears in both the Freeman’s Journal and the Irish Daily Independent for 25 October 1901, listed ‘Amongst those who accepted the Society’s invitation’ to the Law Students’ Debating Society the night before.1 This, the inaugural event of the society’s seventy-second session, was the address on ‘The Irish Revival’ at which John F. Taylor delivered the original of the speech recalled and repeated by Professor MacHugh in ‘Aeolus’. There is no evidence that Joyce was in the audience at the King’s Inns on that occasion, however, despite Ellmann’s conjecture (JJII 91), but attendance at the event or else a familiarity with its newspaper coverage would explain why MacHugh addresses O’Molloy ‘[i]n ferial tone’ and insists ‘Taylor had come there, you must know, from a sickbed’ (U 7.814; emphasis added). That ‘sickbed’ returns in ‘Circe’ when O’Molloy, in his defence of Bloom, assumes the facial features, wasted condition, and ‘hectic cheekbones’ of Taylor (U 15.994). Speaking ‘almost voicelessly’, he declares that he has ‘recently come from a sickbed’ (U 7.998–99). Joyce’s source for this detail as for the version of Taylor’s speech from which he worked was, as is well known, the undated pamphlet ‘The Language of the Outlaw’ (c.1903), now generally attributed to Roger Casement.2

Ronan Crowley


1 ‘“The Irish Revival”: The Law Students’ Debating Society’, Freeman’s Journal, 25 October 1901, p. 5; ‘Irish Revival. Opening of Session’, The Irish Daily Independent and Nation, 25 October 1901, pp. 5–6.

2 See also Abby Bender, “The Language of the Outlaw: A Classification”, in JJQ (2007) vol. 44, Number 4 (Summer), pp. 807-12.