Mad cow at Cabra

SH XXVI (p. 221): EVENING TELEGRAPH. Nationalist Meeting at Ballinrobe. Important Speeches. Main Drainage Scheme. Breezy Discussion. Death of a Well-known Solicitor. Mad Cow at Cabra, Literature &.

Stephen and others stop to read the newspaper hoarding outside Harcourt Street station. Cranly reads out the headlines.

Mad cow at Cabra

We can use various clues to identify the issue or issues of the Dublin Evening Telegraph used by Joyce. Firstly, the ‘mad cow at Cabra’. Dubliners often had problems with cattle that were being driven through the streets. When a cow became ‘infuriated’ (or ‘mad’, as the newspapers preferred to say) then they sometimes hit the headlines.

Late March 1904 was a difficult time for Dublin cows. The cattle were driven from the cattle market near Prussia street and Cabra road via the North Circular down to the harbour for loading on to ships. In the Hades chapter they interrupt the funeral cortege. On 26 March the Irish Times’s contents section includes ‘Mad cow in Dublin’. That day the Evening Telegraph carried the same story: ‘Infuriated Cow in Dublin.’ It also carried a story ‘Blue Coloured Cows’, and on 30 March ‘Cruelty to a Cow.’

But these aren’t Joyce’s cows. We have to wait for the Evening Mail of 1 April for the second cow story: ‘Another Cow Runs Amok – Scene in Phibsborough – Shot at Cabra Road.’ The Evening Telegraph picks up the story the following day: ‘Another Rampant Cow. Shot at Cabra road’. The Irish Times that day ran with ‘Cow Shot at Cabra Road’, and in a journalistic frenzy followed this in the same column with 'Mad stoker kills two of the crew [of British steamer]’ and 'Supposed Mad dog'. It seems it was the Weekly Irish Times of 9 April that put all the elements together: ‘A Mad Cow Shot at Cabra Road’.

Death of a Well-known Solicitor

The same newspapers cover the death of Valentine Blake Dillon, the prominent Dublin solicitor and Lord Mayor of Dublin 1894-5. Dillon receives several mentions in Ulysses. The Evening Mail of 31 March 1904 reports on the ‘Death of Mr V. B. Dillon, Solicitor’, and the Evening Telegraph comes along on 2 April with ‘Death of Mr Valentine B. Dillon’, reporting on his funeral on the same day.

Nationalist Meeting at Ballinrobe

This is slightly more problematic, as the newspapers appear not to have reported on a Ballinrobe meeting over the late March-early April period in 1904. Newspaper coverage of ‘nationalist meetings’ at the time usually relates to coverage of meetings of the United Irish League. The League had planned a big nationalist meeting at Ballinrobe (County Mayo) in 1898. In 1904 references to a ‘Ballinrobe meeting’ usually relate to a race meeting.

However, the Evening Telegraph weighs in on 5 April with ‘United Irish League. Nationalist Meeting in Granard [Co. Longford]’, and it seems possible that this is the source of Joyce’s reference.

The Main Drainage Scheme

By 1904 plans had been afoot in Dublin for decades for a main drainage system. Its progress had been widely followed by the newspapers. The scheme was finally inaugurated in 1906. The Dublin newspapers do not seem to cover the scheme in the first few days of April 1904, but on 9 April the Evening Telegraph offers ‘The Main Drainage Scheme. Singular Accident on Eden quay’. Two days later the Irish Times reports on the ‘Dublin Main Drainage Escape of Sewer Gas’.

Joyce had finished chapter 24 in Trieste in early June 1905; the headlines discussed above fall in chapter 26 (date of writing uncertain). The events described in Joyce’s list of headlines were carried in the newspapers over a short period from the end of March and to the beginning of April 1904. It seems that we should not look for a single contents list or newspaper vendor’s hoarding containing all of the relevant headlines – headlines through which Joyce scoffs at the ‘abnormal life’ of the bourgeois. The events can, however, be safely pinned down to this time period.

John Simpson

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