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

Bloom’s list of departed friends includes “Michael Hart (phthisis, Mater Misericordiae hospital)” (U 17.1254-5). Ellmann adds Hart “was dead by about 1900”. By the time of Bloomsday in 1904 the young Mick Hart was indeed dead, having died of “phthisis” (pulmonary tuberculosis or something similar) on 27 April 1898. The death notice in the Freeman’s Journal the next day tells us a bit more:

Hart – April 27, 1898, at Jervis street Hospital, Michael Martin Hart, son of Patrick Hart, Esq, Collooney, Co Sligo, and late of Education Office, Dublin. RIP. Funeral will leave Jervis street Hospital […] to-morrow (Friday) morning, 29th inst., for Glasnevin Cemetery.

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.

Hart’s death certificate gives more information:

Name: Michael Martin Hart

Occupation: Journalist

Date of Death: 27 April 1898

Age: 39

Sex: Male

Civil Status Single

Place of Death: Jervis St. Hospital

Cause of Death: Phthisis – Heart Failure 5 Days

Certified: M. Nulty, Inmate, Jervis St. Hospital

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.

5) His greatest day was when he “tipped the double” in verse, predicting the winner of both the Lincolnshire Handicap and the Grand National Steeplechase.

Not long after this triumph he went downhill, and spent his later days in ‘knocking around on the hard’. He continued to write verse; Joyce gives one of his successful productions, a limerick, in the Aeolus episode.2

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

Early life

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

By 1877 Michael was in Dublin, where he was placed high enough in the Civil Service entry examination to gain a place as a Clerk in the Office of Works:

Clerks and Boy Clerks of the Lower Division... Office of Works, Michael Martin Hart, Sydney Edward Lander, and Alexander George Smith, to be Clerks (July 11).

London Gazette (1877) 3 August, p. 4536

However, soon afterwards, he elected to transfer to the Education Office:

Transfers... National Education Office (Ireland), Michael Martin Hart, Clerk of the Lower Division (October 15), from the Office of Works.

London Gazette (1877) 2 November, p. 5997

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

Michael and Hugh – like several of the minor characters alluded to in Ulysses – took an interest in athletics. By 1882 both Michael and Hugh had joined the City and Suburban Harriers (C&SH) in Dublin. Hugh was always the stronger runner, typically given the lower handicap. The Freeman’s Journal for 6 December 1882 sees them both competing in the C&SH Members’ Five-mile handicap race:

Athletics. City and Suburban Harriers. – The Members’ Five Mile Handicap – The following is the handicap […] H S Hart, 1 min 40 secs, [...] M M Hart, 5 min; [etc.].

In 1883 they both ran for C&SH in the Cross-Country Championship of Ireland and were clearly no slouches on the running track:

Cross-County Championship of Ireland. – The entries include the best cross-country runners in Ireland. We append a list of the teams: - City and Suburban Harriers (holders) – W J Hogg, [...] H S Hart, [...] M M Hart, [etc.].

Freeman’s Journal (1883) 10 March

As well as running themselves, both brothers also became involved as officials at the meets, with Michael taking the lead in this as handicapper and racing judge:

Kilreaney Pony Race and Athletic sports [...] The handicaps were arranged by Mr. M. M. Hart, of the City and Suburban Harriers (Dublin), and gave entire satisfaction throughout the day. The judging was undertaken, and discharged in a highly satisfactory manner by the same gentleman.

Freeman’s Journal (1883) 25 May

The following year Michael was mixing with the top brass at the Sport newspaper, for which in due course both he and Hugh worked:

Athletics. "Freeman’s Journal" Athletic Club Sports – To-day. Judges – Messrs D Kinsella and M M Hart. Starter – Mr Fred Gallaher. Timekeeper and Handicapper – Mr P B Kirwan, Sport. Referee of Walking – Messrs P B Kirwan and M M Hart.

Freeman’s Journal (1884) 2 August

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.

In 1884 Mick Hart switched clubs, joining the Civil Service Harriers, where his brother Hugh soon joined him too (both had links – as we have seen – to the Civil Service in Dublin). Mick Hart was often sacrificed as the “pacemaker”, when Hugh soldiered on to the tape. In September 1885 Mick and Hugh were present as the Irish-Canadian Athletic Team under the non-playing captaincy of Fred Gallaher left Irish shores for their contests abroad:

Departure of the Irish-Canadian Athletic Team […] Amongst those present on the platform to bid the team farewell were: - [...] P B Kirwan, Sport, hon secretary to team, [...] J. Nagle, P. Nagle, J J McCarthy, [...] M M Hart, captain CS Harriers, [...] H S Hart.

Freeman’s Journal (1885) 11 September

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.

Hugh Hart (lounging front left) apparently with the prize-winners of an athletics meet in Dublin in mid 1886. Seated third from left is the legendary Tom Conneff, sporting three medals; seated centre is probably “Honest John” Purcell (Haddington Harriers), displaying eight medals – probably those won by him at the Caledonian Games in June.

Photograph: courtesy of the Hart family papers (Alison Sulentic)

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.

Mick doubtless contributed widely to the racing and athletic columns. A column called “Atoms” (or short “nuggets” of information) seems to have been pulled together by Denis J. Downing (“Dr Dick”) and we might see Mick Hart as the guiding presence behind the column “Squibs by Stroller”, which contained “Amusements”, typically of a literary and entertaining nature. “Athletic Notes” are another column with which Mick Hart would have been interested. In one such column, Sport has advance notice that Hugh Hart will soon emigrate – with a trace of French which may betray his brother Mick’s authorship:

On dit that HS Hart will soon leave us for America. The races are not long enough for him here.

Sport (1888) 21 April (Athletic Notes)

It is not the case that Sport drips with Hart’s French, but from time to time it seems to peep through in a way one would not really expect in a racing paper:

The Star […] Place aux dames […] "Magnifique!" said the Shah.

25 January (1890), p. 8

and soon after:

The attractions of the pas de quatre at the Gaiety Theatre has been modified through the indisposition of one of its danseuses, Miss Westlake.

8 February (1890), p. 3

“Dr Dick” takes the chance to compare “Jacques” McCarthy and Mick Hart:

Who […] can forget the quips and gibes, the sometimes savage criticism, of the inimitable “Jakes” McCarthy. His “reading” was certainly extensive, as I discovered myself, but in any literary controversy he always found an ugly opponent in Mick Hart, whose genius was utterly overlooked by himself.

Irish Sport and Play (1911), p. 23

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.

As part of the good-natured banter between the Sport newspaper and the rival pantomime companies at the Queen’s and the Gaiety, Sport published a spoof article on 22 December 1888, probably written by Mick Hart. The headlines ran:

The Gaiety Theatre Pulled Down.

Extraordinary Order of the Master of the Rolls.

No Pantomime This Year.

Gunn’s Lease Decreed to be Waste Paper.

200 Workmen Demolish the Theatre in 11 Hours 55 Mins.

This would have come as something of a surprise to the pantomime-going public of Dublin. Michael Gunn was the lessee of the Gaiety Theatre. The newspaper article begins in sober style, but the first chinks of humour creep in for the initiated with the list of lawyers acting for both parties:

For the complainant there appeared – Mr T H E Bard (instructed by Mr. A L Ryan and Son).

For the defendant – Mr. J W Whitboard [sic], Q C, and Mr. M M Hart (instructed by Messrs Kennedy and Cheevers).

The farce continues for a full column, in which the forthcoming pantomime of “Cinderella” and its cast, sets, and music are described more fulsomely than in a regular review and with the backdrop of the spurious sideshow of the theatre’s destruction. To conclude, Sport concedes:

It was found that "The Pulling Down of the Gaiety Theatre" was only a cleverly conceived mode of making lazy readers read pretty fully about the Gaiety Pantomime, which will be seen at 1.30 p.m. next Wednesday, and to which we wish a long and prosperous season.

The mantle of pantomime-writer was passed to Mick Hart for “Dick Whittington and his Cat” in 1889, and we can see elements of his “well-known” jokey nature alluded to in the press notices:

The Pantomime at the Queen’s Theatre [...] When it is stated that the local hits and puns, as well as the numerous topical songs, are by Messrs M. M. Hart and another well-known local writer of amusing songs of this sort, it will be readily understood that they will prove of a highly enjoyable kind.

Irish Times (1889) 11 December, p. 6

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.

Just before Christmas 1889 the pantomime was being advertised:

Queen’s Royal Theatre […] Manager, Mr J W Whitbread […] Mr J F Warden’s Sixth Queen’s Theatre Grand Christmas Pantomime, Dick Whittington and His Wonderful Cat. By Messrs Fred Locke and M M Hart.

Freeman’s Journal (1889) 24 December

The review in the Freeman’s Journal of 27 December is one of the fullest, and it refers specifically to the “puns, good and bad” which one might expect from the Lenehan of Ulysses:

"Dick Whittington" […] has been localised in a very effective manner by two Dublin men, Mr. M. Hart, who is well known in literary circles, and another gentleman who has won a high reputation as a dramatic author, but who on the present occasion conceals his identity under the mysterious and exceedingly foreign-looking alias of "Mr. Etsapdnaerossice" [= "scissors and paste"]. The local allusions are numerous and apposite, and of course they will be improved and expanded as the season goes on, and altogether the dialogue is smart and entertaining, bristling with puns, good and bad, but such as cannot fail to provoke a laugh [...]

The songs are numerous, the topical element being well to the fore. In particular there is one song by Mr. Hart, with the refrain, ‘We could do with a little bit more’, which is catchy, and which will no doubt be a success, as it lends itself readily to anything in the way of topics.

By now we can see that the theatre manager James Whitbread is also credited in a roundabout way with providing additional topical colour. As we have seen, Sport had a close working relationship with both James Whitbread at the Queen’s and Michael Gunn at the Gaiety. The pantomime was avidly plugged in Sport, and we can perhaps see Mick Hart’s hand in that too:

Hurry up, brothers and sisters! The pantomime at the Queen’s will positively be withdrawn on next Saturday […] Although when it was produced at Christmas it was as near perfection as possible fresh specialities have been continually introduced to render it if possible more attractive […] The esprit de corps which animates professionals will give sufficient indication that their united efforts will all be put forth in the direction of making a most attractive programme.

1 February (1890)

followed a week later by:

I am selfish enough to wish the Pantomime to be prolonged, but I must recollect that the people in the provinces are anxiously awaiting the coming amongst them of “Dick Whittington and his Cat”.

8 February (1890), p. 3

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).

Details of Mick Hart’s famous “tipping the double” in verse have not yet come to light, but the tradition of forecasting winners in verse was alive at Sport. The main chance for this was in the short period when the last classic of the steeplechase season (the Grand National) overlapped with the first classic of the flat-race season (the Lincolnshire Handicap) at the end of March. On 20 March 1886 “E.S” ended his prediction with this final verse:

For bone and blood give me "Too Good"

But then he’ll have to be

Methinks a little bit too good

To win across Aintree.

Now take my "tip", don’t let it slip,

Back one, and one alone:

Count Kinsky rides the winner,

The gallant Zoedone.

The race (the Grand National) was actually won by the 25-to-1 outsider Old Joe.

The last years

Mick Hart’s last years were, as Richard Ellmann tells us, difficult. The body of journalists that constituted Sport’s editorial staff in the late 1880s and 1890s did not last: Gallaher left and died in England, Kinsella and Kirwan died around 1890, “Dr Dick” died in 1909 aged 38; and “Jacques” McCarthy died in 1901, having earlier fallen foul of the management and been dismissed in 1893, leading to a court case in which Mick Hart took the witness stand:

Mr. M M Hart deposed that he was an occasional contributor to the Freeman and Sport. On one occasion the plaintiff [McCarthy] employed him to write an article and signed the docket for payment. The plaintiff’s work was chiefly reporting football, cricket, and athletics, with an occasional excursion into coursing and horse-racing (laughter).

Freeman’s Journal (1893) 23 January

When he died on 27 April 1898 the Freeman’s Journal remembered one of its own with kindness:

Death of Mr. M. M. Hart.

It is with much regret that we have to announce the death of this gentleman, which took place yesterday. Mr Hart was well known in sporting circles, and was a journalist of no mean merit. He was a Sligo man hailing from Collooney. He had gained a high place in the examination for the National Education Office, which he subsequently left in order to devote himself to journalism. Rheumatic fever, contracted in the discharge of his duties, laid him low. He could not be persuaded to take the rest which would be necessary for his recovery, and, as stated, died yesterday after a lingering illness.

Freeman’s Journal (1898) 28 April


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.

John Simpson


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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