Joyce's People

"They all belong to a vanished world and most of them seem to have been very curious types."

(Letter, 21 December 1922)

Research has shown that virtually all the characters in Joyce's fiction are based (to a greater or lesser degree) on real people who lived in and around Dublin at the turn of the nineteenth century. Often they are referred to by their real names and share characteristics and circumstances with their real counterparts.

These pages present real-life information about Joyce's characters, taken from books, newspapers, registers, and any other regular or ephemeral source in which they may occur. We hope that this often new raw material will supplement information which is already known about the backgrounds to Joyce's Dublin.

For a full listing of notes and articles on Joyce's People go to Articles

Charles Dawson – lecturer on talking about everything

The style and content of Dawson’s speech are mocked at some length in the Aeolus episode (7.242 – 343 ), with Professor MacHugh calling him an “inflated windbag” (7.315), and Bloom offering “Bladderbags”. Later Bloom takes a more balanced view [read more]


Burke’s public house was situated at the corner of Holles street and Denzille street (Fenian street after 1924). Like O’Rourke’s house, which still exists at the corner of Dorset and Eccles street, it had a corner-porch entrance. There was also a side entrance into the dwelling where the owner lived on the upper floors. [read more]

John O’Mahony and the Language of the Outlaw

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’. [more]

Francis Irwin, TCD, in the fusty world of Garrett Deasy

Francis Irwin is still a rather shadowy character in the Dublin mythology of Ulysses, though he is mentioned in many of the classic texts which help us to understand the novel and its background. [more]

The girl in the toga girilis

Stephen Hero 23.182: “The paper also contained some verses: The Female Fellow: (a swallow-flight of song) which were signed "Toga Girilis". [For the full article click here.]

Katey Keogh, Assistant at the Volta Cinema, Dublin

Katey Keogh, almost a cliché of a common Irish name used by Bloom in a verse for his daughter Milly, was thought to have been an imaginary character created by Joyce. [more]