Monks, night fathers, and day fathers
U 7.195-202: A DAYFATHER
He walked on through the caseroom, passing an old man, bowed, spectacled, aproned. Old Monks, the dayfather. [...] Nearing the end of his tether now. Sober serious man with a bit in the savingsbank I’d say. Wife a good cook and washer. Daughter working the machine in the parlour. Plain Jane, no damn nonsense.
The meaning of “dayfather” in a printing office is explained by Gifford as the “father of the chapel for the day staff”; of the name “Monks” he reports “apart from the context, identity and significance unknown”. Both of these comments merit further investigation.
The “father of the chapel” is “usually the oldest printer in the [printing-]house”, according to John McCreery’s The Press.1 Other sources regard the “father” as “the oldest freeman” in the printing house.2 But the dayfather is not the father of the chapel, as Gifford correctly states; he is the leading representative of the day staff.
Documentary evidence for the term dayfather has eluded researchers to date. It is printed as one word by Joyce, but readers might expect to find “day father” as the form in regular use. Although there is little doubt about the meaning of the term, it is hard to be accurate without secure references.
There is little doubt that the term was in use in Dublin print-rooms when Ulysses was being finalised, and probably for many years before.
Old Monks, the dayfather
Joyce refers to the “dayfather” in the Aeolus episode at the offices of the Freeman’s Journal/Evening Telegraph as “Old Monks”. Sometimes the name is taken as symbolic,4 but what evidence is there for a Monks in the composing-room of the Freeman’s Journal at the time of which Joyce writes (the closing years of the nineteenth century and the early years of the twentieth)?5
What information do we have from Ulysses about “Monks”? The adjective “old” suggestions that he is one of the more elderly members of staff, and this is reinforced by the narrator's comments and Bloom’s interior monologue: “an old man, bowed, spectacled, aproned” (U 7.196-7), and “Nearing the end of his tether now. Sober serious man with a bit in the savingsbank” (U 7.199-200). The fact that he is the “dayfather” makes him likely to have been a printer or compositor, and the context is the printing offices of the Freeman’s Journal. He is known to his colleague J. P. Nannetti, then a foreman at the Freeman’s Journal, a leading old-style trade-unionist, and later twice Mayor of Dublin, and an MP: Nannetti asks for him (“what’s his name) (U 7.182-6). Apparently he is married with a daughter: his wife is said to be “a good cook and washer” and his daughter “working the machine in the parlour” and a “Plain Jane, no damn nonsense” (U 7.200-2). Beyond this, evidence is scanty.
The only likely model for Monks is Edward Monks, recorded by the 1901 Ireland census as a “Printer – Compositor” aged 50, married, with two sons and two daughters living with him, along with his mother-in-law and a boarder, at No 13 Margaret Place, off Bath Avenue, near Sandymount in Dublin. Except for Edward Monks’s son Edward Patrick, only two other Dublin Monkses (John and Francis) are involved in the printing industry according to 1901 census, and they are less likely contenders. The 1911 census records that his his daughter Catherine worked as a “typist” (NB Joyce’s “working the machine in the parlour” – perhaps for a typewriting machine rather than a sewing machine; OED documents this usage from 1891).
Edward Monks was born in 1850 in Dublin City (he was baptised on 4 August in Rathmines), the son of Thomas and Margaret Monks. He was married to Catherine (“Kate”) O’Brien, also of the City of Dublin, at the Pro-Cathedral on 10 November 1873. Edward and Kate lived at No 5 Langrishe Place, north of the river, when their first son, Michael, was born the following year (Michael became a Dominican priest and died in 1907 at the Presbytery in Trinidad). Soon the family moved nearby to No 35 North Summer Street, where their other two sons Edward Patrick and John Francis and their first daughter, Catherine, were born. Then they moved to east Dublin, south of the river, to No 13 Margaret Place, where Mary (“May”) Angela was born in 1887 and where the family stayed for over twenty years.
Edward Monks was known as “Edward Monks, senior” to distinguish him from his son Edward Patrick, also a printer/compositor. His son John Francis was by now working for the Dublin Corporation, where he was later to rise to the position of City Treasurer.
1 John McCreery, The Press: a poem, published as a specimen of typography (1803), Pt. 1, p. 15.
2 T. C. Hansard, Typographia (1825), p. 303.
3 1961-62 Cmnd. 1812-2 Royal Commission on the Press. Minutes of oral evidence. Vol. III. Witnesses: National Union of Printing, Bookbinding and Paper Workers, Scannews (London) Ltd., the Right Honourable Lord Beaverbrook, Mr. N. Kaldor and Mr. R. R. Neild: 26 February 1962 p. 5.
4 Sam Slote (ed.) “Annotations” in James Joyce, Ulysses (Richmond: Alma Classics, 2012), p. 608: “perhaps the name is a joke since he is the ‘dayfather’”.
5 Joyce’s father was familiar with Freeman pressmen and printers in the late nineteenth century, and clearly passed stories on to his son. As well as earlier contact, after his return from a visit to his wife's relatives in Galway Joyce paid several visits between 28 August and 8 September 1909 to the Freeman/Evening Telegraph offices posing as a journalist, as evidenced by Piaras Béaslaí's memoir of the occasion. See also Richard Ellmann, James Joyce (1965), pp. 297-8.
6 Freeman’s Journal (1887) 1 August, and Freeman's Journal (1888), 2 April. The Freeman's Journal also records that Monks attended the funeral of former Freeman newspaperman Joe Gallaher, brother of Frederick ("Ignatius") Gallaher, in 1893 (Freeman's Journal, 23 October), as a representative of the Freeman's Journal and Evening Herald staff.
7 Freeman’s Journal (1893), 23 October.
8 Arthur Marsh and John B. Smedhurst, Historical Directory of Trade Unions (2006), vol. 5 pt. 1 p. 83 “Irish Print Union”.
9 Pádraig Yeates, Lockout: Dublin 1913 (2013), ch 1; Freeman's Journal (1880), 30 August.
10 Copy of memorandum on the progress of the work of the Labour Department, Board of Trade (1893-4), (194) p. 7.
11 Connaught Telegraph (1906), 27 January.
12 Freeman’s Journal (1906), 20 March.
13 Freeman’s Journal (1918), 2 December.
14 Sunday Independent (1923) 2 December.
15 Irish Times (1941), 1 August, p. 1.
16 B. C. Rosset Shaw of Dublin: the Formative Years (1964), p .100-1.
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