Ditto McAnaspey and the same for me, please

U 12.144-7: - Wine of the country, says he.

- What’s yours? Says Joe.

- Ditto MacAnaspey, says I.

-Three pints, Terry, says Joe. And how’s the old heart, citizen? Says he.

Letters: 18 July 1931: With best Xmas wishes to Mr and Mrs Joyce from Mr and Mrs Ditto MacAnaspey.1

The expression “Ditto MacAnaspey” does not seem to be recorded widely outside Joyce’s circle and so it would seem to be a local or a family expression. It occurs twice in Joyce’s writings: once in Ulysses, where it is used by the I-narrator when asked what he wants to drink (= “I’ll have the same as him”, which was “wine of the country” – i.e. beer); and secondly in the subscription by Joyce to a letter to his brother Stanislaus (i.e. from one Joyce to another). Richard Ellmann glosses it “a catch phrase of Joyce’s father, meaning simply ‘ditto’”.

Gifford (Ulysses Annotated) tells us that the expression arose in local politics:

This peculiar name means "son of the bishop" in Irish. At the time of the great split over Parnell’s leadership, a MacAnaspey, a member of a family of Dublin tombstone makers, made a lengthy speech in a public meeting. The speaker who followed him said simply: "Ditto MacAnaspey".

Gerry O’Flaherty tells a different story:2

Ditto MacAnaspey: The McAnaspies were Stucco plasterers, Scagliola and Figure Artists etc. The story goes that there was an auction and two busts of the same individual were in the sale; one by a distinguished sculptor and the other by McAnaspey. The catalogue listed them as lot 1 Joe Bloggs by (say) Foley and lot 2 Ditto McAnaspey. The phrase went into Dublinese as meaning “the same again”, particularly in pub talk.

Both explanations are quite possible, and there seems to be a thread linking them in the form of the MacAnaspeys/McAnaspies, the “Dublin tombstone makers” or “stucco plasterers”.

The McAnaspies: stucco plasterers, and dabblers “a little too much” in politics, in public questions, and in the law

Patrick and Thomas M‘Anaspie were brothers. Thomas was born around 1807, and his brother slightly earlier. In the late 1820s or 1830s they established a business as “figure and ornamental modellers, scagliola artists, plain and ornamental stucco plasterers, general builders, &c.” at the manufactory at 37 (later 31) Great Brunswick Street.3 Bloom would have passed it on the road after St Mark’s and the Antient Concert Rooms on his way to Paddy Dignam’s funeral on Bloomsday. They were more than tombstone makers, and liked to impress upon the public that they were true artists in plaster:

Houses neatly Fronted, in every style of Architecture, either in Roman, Portland, or Mastic cement; and Ornaments of every description, modelled from the designs of the most eminent Architects, in a very superior manner, and on most reasonable terms. Altars, Columns, Walls of Rooms, Staircases, Halls, Vestibules, either panneled [sic] or plain, done in Verd Antique, Yellow Antique, Lapis Lazuli, Sienna, Black and Gold Raussi, Brocedo, Brocadilio, and the different tinted Granites, Porphryrys, &c.

Gentlemen’s and Royal Coats of Arms; Heads, Grotesque Figures, Bosses, Finellies, Creepers, &c. Centre pieces, Enrichments for Cornices, Capitals for Columns, &c., in either the Norman, Angle, or Florid Gothic style; or in Roman, Grecian, or French Architecture, done by hand, or modelled to design, either in Cement, Stucco, or Plaster of Paris, and sent to any part of the Kingdom.

They also offered life masks and death masks, and were generally not shy about advertising their business. The brothers were extremely keen on promoting Irish manufactures and sourcing their materials from Ireland. They were fiercely protective of their business, maintaining a public argument with the Stucco Plasterers of Dublin in the newspapers in 1840.4 In the 1840s they also built up the asphalt side of the business, as the Paving Commissioners of Dublin set about relaying footpaths etc.

In 1846 the brothers were declared bankrupt, but they soon bounced back with renewed vigour. Patrick went over to Liverpool to set up a second office in what seemed an easier financial climate, and looked into the patenting process; Thomas maintained the Dublin business in his own inimitable way. By the 1850s the family was referring to themselves in advertisements as “The M‘Anaspies”, and were particularly publicizing their ability with Portland stone. Thomas had for several years now been promoting Schools of Design for Irish Art, and he alluded to this frequently in the newspapers. In addition, he was becoming more and more heavily involved in local politics. Known as a free and powerful speaker, he attacked in particular the City Attachment law, supported the Irish Manufacture Movement, sent Irish products (“specimens of cement”5) to the Great Exhibition in London, and exerted himself both on behalf of his own business and Irish interests generally.

P. & T. M‘Anaspie, No 31 Great Brunswick Street

from Henry Shaw’s Dublin Pictorial Guide and Directory (1850)

By 1860 he was back in the public eye with his pamphlet Strike Amongst Workmen: Its Causes and Consequences, in a Series of Letters Addressed to the Right Honourable Lord Brougham, published by M‘Glashan & Gill of Sackville Street. This was noted by so weighty a social commentator as the magazine Punch in 1861:

It is purely in the exercise of his own sovereign will and pleasure that he [i.e. Mr. Punch] prints the following extract from a Dublin Pote, who has favoured him with a pamphlet on the subject of Strikes. The elegance and eloquence of the composition do honour to the author, Mr. M'Anaspie […]

A tradesman’s first duty is to protect his trade,

From all encroachments lawless power has made;

For it is he that raises cities, towns, and squares,

And almost every article that mankind wants and wears,


Anyhow, […] the poetry is eminently calculated to scare the Detracting Nabobs against whom the Pote launches his fulminations. Brave, M'Anaspie! It’s yourself that can hold the candle straight, sir.6

At much the same time the M‘Anaspie, as he now called himself as self-appointed clan chief, was advertising his annual auction sale of statuary:

Statuary by Auction. – The Annual Sale of Statuary and a variety of other Devices for Pleasure Grounds, &c., on Monday, the 27th instant, at the McAnaspie's Galleries, 31, Great Brunswick-street. Amongst them will be found Sacred and other Figures from life-size to six inches high, composed of Sacred, Antique, and Modern subjects, and that from the Ancient and Modern Masters, as well as a great variety of Vases, Animals, Birds, &c.; Flowers for decorating rooms, Mandarins, Tripods, Tritons, Jet D'Eaus, Chimney Pots (Asphaltes), Garden Chairs, ornamented with Fern devices – all open for inspection at the McAnaspies', Artists and Stucco Plasterers, Statuary Gallery, 31, Great Brunswick-street, Dublin.7

In 1865 Thomas M‘Anaspie threw himself into the competition for the design of the O’Connell Monument in Dublin. He submitted four designs, one an extremely elaborate domed structure requiring paying visitors. His model remained on display at his offices long after it was rejected in favour of the successful Foley design. His growing eccentricity was shown by another M‘Anaspie exhibit:

Model of a Dutch Pig. Now Exhibiting in one of the Agricultural Show Galleries, Royal Dublin Society, by the M'Anaspies. The Model of a Dutch Pig, made of Lard and other compositions so as to represent Statuary Marble, resting on a Paddock as a Pedestal, representing Nature in its bloom, with the wild Rose, Shamrock, and Thistle, and other Flowers of the Field intertwined, as the emblems of Majesty. The original of same was got up for Mr Byrne, the Purveyor, of D’Olier-street.8

He published a pamphlet on the O’Connell Monument, “containing a Review of the different Designs exhibited in the City Hall”, and describes himself as:

Author of the Pamphlet published by M'Glashen and Gill, Dublin; Marshall, London; and M'Kenzie, Edinburgh, on the inequitable mode of levying the general taxation of these countries, and monopoly of trades and trade, and their bad effects on the industry, prosperity, peace and contentment of the people, and the permanent stability of the empire at large.9

In December 1866 Thomas M‘Anaspie spoke at a meeting for the working man in Dublin held to give the radical reformer John Bright an Irish platform for his views on Home Rule and liberty. Representatives of the Orange and Fenian movements were present in the background, and although John Bright’s remarks were mainly listened to attentively there was trouble after the words of another speaker:

Here a row ensued that lasted for some time. Order being restored at length, a voice was heard, "All those who are for physical force hold up hands." A number of hands were held up. Mr. M'Anaspie then proceeded to address the meeting, but was obliged to retire in consequence of the hisses and disorder.10

The promotion of asphalt pathways went hand in hand with support for the tailors’ strike in Dublin of 1867. Business seems to have been good that year:

Asphalting. – South Dublin Union. The clerk read an application from Mr. Thomas McAnaspie, of Great Brunswick-street, for payment of an account for a quantity of asphalting done in the work-house. Mr. Bentley, one of the guardians, said the work had been done in a manner superior to that of the previous contractors, and at a less cost. He was sorry it was not in their power to give Mr McAnaspie a higher price… Reference to asphalte work recently done for the Corporation, South Dublin Union, Ordinance Department, Kingstown and Wicklow Railways, Kilmainham, Richmond and Grangegorman Prisons, Thomas Vance, Esq., and numerous private parties, by the McAnaspies, Dublin.11

The business had not kept the M‘Anaspies out of the Dublin courts of law, but in the early 1870s there were more public spats. Thomas M‘Anaspie, stucco plasterer, was summonsed for assault on Anne Hassan. He claimed that she was struck in the course of an argument with his wife. Despite contending in “a long statement” that there was no reason he would strike “the poor woman he had never seen”, he was “forcibly removed from the dock” and fined ten shillings.12 The following years saw applications for summons and counter-summons by Thomas M‘Anaspie and his wife, and at the same time a curious set of advertisements drawing material from all aspects of the M‘Anaspie’s life:

The M'Anaspies are unimpeachable. The M'Anaspies disregard either monkeys or nincompoops, who would and have attempted to put a false face on them or their profession, and beat them for being ugly as to reputation. First, as artists; second, as stucco plasterers; third, as general statuists; fourth, as asphalte manufacturers and workers; fifth, as patentees; sixth, as promoters of the schools of design of this empire; seventh, as authors of a work dedicated to the late Lord Brougham, proposing to raise 85 millions per year on two items, as well as an irresistible army of two millions of well-disciplined and fighting men, and that without one farthing of outlay to the State [etc., etc.] […]

[Signed] The M'Anaspies, And Sons, and even Daughters and, with all her faults, Mrs. Mac, the true descendant of nobility and princes.13

By now he had in mind the publication of a weekly newspaper for the working man (the Irish Artisan and People’s Paper, subsequently the Citizen and Irish Artisan, published from 30 Great Brunswick Street):

A Printer would be treated with who has type sufficient to print a weekly paper, edited and conducted by The M'Anaspie. Its politics will be universal – to advocate all countries enslaved, either morally, socially, or politically. As Adam is the prototype of nature, so are all mankind. The M'Anaspie and Sons, Great Brunswick-street.14

Meanwhile Thomas continues with his soap opera for business advertisements:

The M'Anaspies, of 31 Great Brunswick-street, will Sell by Auction […] all his Stock in Trade, … and will knock down same as a lawyer does his clients, and as an M.P. his constituents, but I must have my fee.

[signed] The M'Anaspies, And only myself, and no other but The M'Anaspies, and I think I will group the family, and that Heroine, Mrs. M'A.15

The M'Anaspies' Political Creed or Admonition to all Mankind, will appear on the walls of this and all other cities, mountains, hamlet, &c., and in all places wherever mankind have [sic] printed his foot thereupon …

[Signed] The M'Anaspies, Sons and Daughters, and even Mrs. Mac, the heroic.16

C. P. Curran discusses the work of the McAnaspie brothers, remembering particularly a self-portrait:

More remarkable were several colossal busts that distinguished the façade of Butler's Medical Hall in O'Connell Street near the bridge. Esculapius was in the centre, but Thomas McAnaspie was also there wearing a civic wreath and tunic, until H.M.S. Helga bombarded them all from their perches during the Easter Rising.17

The remaining years of Thomas M‘Anaspie’s life were taken up with the same concerns: plasterwork, publications, summons and law suits, and finally the mortgage sale of his properties in Great Brunswick Street, in late 1877. He died on 2 November 1877, described by the Irish Builder as a “Dublin Character”, “our old citizen of fifty years’ standing”, a man who “dabbled a little too much in politics and public questions for his peace of mind”, and “was rather fond of law and rushing into print, and could not escape betimes burning his fingers”.18 He was buried in Glasnevin cemetery.

The aftermath

Thomas M‘Anaspie’s wife Mary had problems after his death. She remained in the Great Brunswick Street property, even though it had been sold. Finally she was removed by bill of ejectment, and the family maintained its radical stance into the next generation.

There is little doubt that Joyce’s father John would have heard of the family. Around the time that he joined the Office of the Collector-General of Rates a damning Report on the Office was published. Deep in the evidence presented to the Commissioners was a statement about Thomas M‘Anaspie by John Joyce’s new colleague William Weatherup (Wetherup of Ulysses):

[Weatherup] I know a man with horses and drays, and they are all covered by bill of sale. The warrant officer on going there compared the property with bill of sale, and found it was all covered. I might mention another case – M'Anaspie, of Brunswick-street. No rates could be got out of him, and he occupied my time three or four years going after him.19

None of this is evidence, however, that Thomas M‘Anaspie was the person behind the expression “Ditto Macanaspey”. But it is suggestive.

Gifford regards Macanaspey as a tombstone maker who might make a “lengthy speech in a public meeting”. Thomas M‘Anaspie might certainly be described in those terms, as we have seen. Whether someone who followed him with another speech simply said “Ditto M‘Anaspie” is not known. But a precedent exists.

The story went the rounds throughout the nineteenth century – and is still retold today - of Henry Cruger, an American merchant who was one of the MPs for Bristol in the late eighteenth century. He was elected in 1774, just ahead of Edmund Burke in the Bristol polls. Both men were elected.

As George Lawton tells the popular story – which might have stood as a model for “Ditto Macanaspey” - in The American Caucus System (1885):

[Edmund Burke] reached Bristol after the polls had been open for five days, but going directly to work he addressed the electors: "Gentlemen, I am come hither to solicit in person that favour which my friends have hitherto endeavored to procure for me," and continuing so eloquently and effectively that great enthusiasm was aroused in his favor. Indeed his colleague (Bristol was entitled to two members), who, by the way, was a native of New York, could only say when called upon to address the electors in his turn, "Gentlemen, I say ditto to Mr. Burke, again I say ditto," earning for himself from that moment the life-long soubriquet "Ditto Cruger".20

Whether the expression “Ditto MacAnaspey” arose from confusion at an auction sale, or in the cut and thrust of political debate, or in some other way, it appears that Thomas M‘Anaspie had all the credentials to be the local legend on whom the expression was based.

- Quite so, Mr Bloom dittoed. (U 16.884)

John Simpson


1 James Joyce, Letters, ed. Richard Ellmann (London: Faber, 1966), vol. 3, p. 222

2 Chairman, James Joyce Institute, Dublin, and Vice-President of the Old Dublin Society (personal communication)

3 Freeman’s Journal (1839) 21 March. Scagliola: “plaster-work of Italian origin, designed to imitate kinds of stone” (OED)

4 See, for instance, Freeman’s Journal (1840) 23 September

5 Official Catalogue of the Great Exhibition of the Works of Industry of All Nations (London, 1851), p. 16

6 Punch (1861) 13 April

7 Freeman’s Journal (1860) 31 August

8 Freeman’s Journal (1865) 19 April

9 Freeman’s Journal (1866) 18 April

10 Cheshire Observer (1866) 10 November, p. 32

11 Freeman’s Journal (1870) 3 September

12 Freeman’s Journal (1872) 7 September

13 Freeman’s Journal (1874) 13 January

14 Freeman’s Journal (1874) 9 January

15 Freeman’s Journal (1874) 5 February

16 Freeman’s Journal (1874) 7 February

17 C. P. Curran, Under the Receding Wave (Dublin: Gill and Macmillan, 1970), p. 60

18 Cited in Freeman’s Journal (1877) 20 November

19 1878 [C.2062] Report to His Grace the Duke of Marlborough, K.G., Lord Lieutenant-General and General Governor of Ireland, of Commissioners of Inquiry into the collection of rates in the city of Dublin, with minutes of evidence, p. 67

20 Lawton, ch. 5, p. 48

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