Strong link between Griffith and Joyce

As we celebrate Bloomsday it might be of interest that while researching a biography of Arthur Griffith recently I was intrigued to discover a 20-year long relationship between himself and James Joyce, running from 1901 to 1922. While this was in the main in intellectual form, there was a close personal aspect to it at the start, middle and end.

Strong link between Griffith and Joyce

In 1901 when Joyce’s article for his university magazine was censored, he sent it to Griffith at his paper The United Irishman. Griffith had it reviewed and wrote himself, “But why the censor strove to gag Mr Joyce is to me as profound a mystery as to why we should grow censors in this country. Turnips would be more useful.”

When Joyce was struggling unsuccessfully against the censors, to have Dubliners published, he sought to enlist the help of King George V and did enlist the help of Arthur Griffith. On his last visit to Dublin in 1912, Joyce called to see Griffith. He told him that he was engaged on a writing project which would have the potential to liberate the Irish people spiritually. He acknowledged that Griffith’s aim was to free his people economically and politically. In 1922 as Ulysses was published and Griffith became President of Dáil Eireann, it appeared that the two men were on their way to achieving their ambitions.

The irony that Arthur Griffith features throughout Joyce’s novel, bears testament that Joyce recognised the vital role Griffith played in liberating the Irish people.

Anthony J Jordan

Sandymount

Dublin 4

More in this section