Gallant Michael Hart
U 17.1251-5: Of companions now in various manners in different places defunct: Percy Apjohn (killed in action, Modder River), Philip Gilligan (phthisis, Jervis Street hospital), Matthew F. Kane (accidental drowning, Dublin Bay), Philip Moisel (pyemia, Heytesbury street), Michael Hart (phthisis, Mater Misericordiae hospital), Patrick Dignam (apoplexy, Sandymount).
Michael (“Mick”) Hart, a friend of Joyce’s father John Joyce, appears in two guises in Ulysses: firstly as himself, as Bloom runs through a list of his departed acquaintances (see opening quotation); and secondly as one of the people who lent characteristics to Lenehan (“the parasite who speaks French”1). Lenehan had earlier made an appearance in “Two Gallants”, in Dubliners.
Mick Hart as himself
From this we can also see that he did not die in the “Mater”, as Joyce states, but nearer the river in the Jervis Street hospital. This factual error seems to have been simply an oversight of Joyce’s part.
The character of Lenehan
Richard Ellmann tells us that Lenehan is a composite character, whose name is borrowed from Matt Lenehan of the Irish Times, but whose personality comes from Michael Hart. Ellmann’s biographical summary of Hart lists several facts:
1) He was fond of speaking French (hence his nickname Monsart = ‘Monsieur Hart’), and he wrote doggerel verses – mostly concerned with attempts to obtain money and credit at the bar.
2) He worked for the Dublin newspaper Sport (which was part of the Freeman stable).
3) As a racing journalist, he characteristically attended race meetings in “flashy attire”.
4) In “Two Gallants” he wished to marry a rich girl, and in real life unsuccessfully paid his addresses to the daughter of Joseph Nagle, an Earl Street publican.
In addition to this, Joyce ascribes to Lenehan something of the character of an idling joker, forever fond of trivial literary and musical references bound up in word-play.
The real life of Michael Hart
Michael Martin Hart was born in 1859/60 in Sligo, the son of Patrick Hart and his wife Mary Anne McDonnell. The family lived at Collooney, Co. Sligo. His brother Hugh Stephen Hart was born in September 1860, his sister Catherine was born in 1864, and his younger brother Patrick Peter at Collooney in 1866. Sadly their mother died a few years later, in 1869.3
His brother Hugh – with whom Michael shared many interests, as we shall see - is also said to have entered the Civil Service.4
A family interest in running
Amongst this illustrious crew Fred Gallaher was the Editor of Sport and a vigorous promoter of sport (especially racing and boxing) in Dublin. Fred Gallaher is seen (partially) in the guise of Ignatius Gallaher in Ulysses. Daniel Kinsella (d. 1889) was Sport’s top racing tipster “Lux”. P. B. (“Sonny”) Kirwan (d. 1890) was another old Sport war horse. So Mick Hart was in good journalistic company at the weekly athletic meets.
Alongside the Harts and P. B. Kirwan of Sport we also find J. J. (“Jacques”) McCarthy– the doyen of sports writers on Sport (d. 1901), and Joe Nagle, with whose daughter Ellmann says Mick Hart was romantically involved.
Hugh Hart’s athletic career
Hugh’s own career in athletics is important in its own right, but only tangentially concerns Mick’s biography. Hugh became involved in the struggle over the “ownership” of Irish athletics with the newly founded Gaelic Athletic Association, bitterly opposing the wish of Michael Cusack to legislate for both codes. Hugh left the Civil Service Harriers in 1886 for the Haddington Harriers, becoming known particularly as the coach of two remarkable Irish runners, Tommy Conneff (U 12.181) and “Honest John” Purcell. All three emigrated to America in 1888 and Hugh continued to coach Conneff as well as running for the New York Xavier club. Hugh died in 1900. His brother Mick’s involvement with Dublin athletics seemed to wane after Hugh left for America in 1888.
Mick’s writing career
Mick Hart was writing for Sport from at least 1888 and probably, like his brother Hugh, from several years earlier. Except for the tipsters, who wrote under their pseudonyms, articles in Sport were unsigned, and so it is not possible to be confident of the authorship of particular pieces. Often the columns appear to contain material from a number of correspondents.
Although Sport was predominantly a racing paper, it also covered other sports and, less expectedly, various aspects of the Dublin artistic and literary scene. Jacques McCarthy and others prepared a series of articles in 1888 primarily intended to entertain their readership, entitled “In Queer Places”, of which the first (on 28 January) was called “A Night on Nelson’s Pillar”.
Mick’s brother Hugh (probably under the pseudonym of “Edwin Doggerel”) was busy for three years from the mid 1880s writing the topical element of the annual Christmas pantomimes at Dublin’s Queen’s Theatre, managed by James Whitbread. With Hugh in America, Jacques McCarthy contributed the “topical” allusions to the Queen’s pantomime “The Fair One with the Golden Locks” in 1888.
The “book” – the text of the pantomime, handed to patrons as they arrived at the theatre – was written by the celebrated pantomime-writer Fred Locke, whose pantomimes had flourished the length and breadth of Great Britain and Ireland. The technique was for a local artist to be employed to spice up the text with comical topical allusions and songs.
Mick Hart’s puns and word-play were very familiar to his acquaintances. In Ulysses we come across them whenever we encounter Lenehan – see, for example:
what opera is like a railway line? (Rose of Castile/Rows of Cast Steel)
the first chapter of Guinness's
O, for a fresh of breath air!
Joe Nagle’s daughter and tips
Richard Ellmann reports that Mick Hart wished to find a rich bride, and in the course of this venture paid court to the daughter of Joseph Nagle, an Earl Street publican. The Nagle family were well-known in Dublin and are referred to in Ulysses (12.198, etc.). (James) Joseph Nagle was one of three brothers, the sons of Alderman John Nagle, who ran a public house and other businesses at an address in Earl Street, Dublin.
As James Joseph Nagle was only 39 in 1901 (census: 17 Rathdown Terrace), and unmarried, it is more likely that Mick Hart was unsuccessfully paying court to one of his sisters (Gertrude or Nano).
The race (the Grand National) was actually won by the 25-to-1 outsider Old Joe.
The last years
Joyce is correct in stating that Mick Hart died on phthisis (pulmonary tuberculosis) but incorrect in saying that he died at the Mater Misericordiae Hospital.
Lenehan’s personality is said to derive in large part from Mick Hart. From the evidence of contemporary documents we can surmise that Hart is correctly characterized as a journalist with a delight in puns and other word-play, and he is probably responsible for the tint of French in Sport. His “doggerel verses” were also written for the pantomime stage of the Queen’s Theatre in Dublin, where his brother had preceded him (as “Edwin Doggerel”). As a sporting journalist his articles were unsigned, but there is no reason to doubt that he wrote at least on racing and athletics, and doubtless other sports, for Sport (and the Freeman’s Journal). He was as well known in the newspaper industry, however, for his literary side – bringing theatre news and reviews into Sport.
At each step Mick Hart does seem to have been rather outshone by his brother Hugh – in athletics, in pantomime-writing, and perhaps also in journalism. Hugh continued his journalism and literary work to a high level when he landed in America.
Michael Martin Hart was one of a substantial group of journalists who did not survive, or barely survived, into the twentieth century. That Joyce was conscious of time washing over the dead of his city is evidenced by the list of recently departed in which he includes Mick Hart.
1 Richard Ellmann James Joyce (1982) xxii. 365.
2 Richard Ellmann James Joyce (1982) xxii. 365.
3 I am grateful here and elsewhere to Alison Sulentic, who kindly made available to me details about her Hart family.
4 New York Times (1900) 5 November.
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