Joyce’s attitude to the Rising was built on sand

As an Irish exile in Trieste and Paris, James Joyce considered the matter of an Irish insurrection in detail. He kept in touch with Ireland mainly through Arthur Griffith’s United Irishman and Sinn Féin newspapers.

Joyce’s attitude to the Rising was built on sand

He believed that if a victorious country terrorises another, it cannot reasonably take it amiss if the later responded.

He declared that men are made that way and no one, unless he is deluded by self-interest or cunning, can still believe that a colonising country is driven by purely Christian motives when it takes over foreign shores. Colonisers all over the world despoil the country economically, divide the people and persecute their religion.

Joyce had nothing but contempt for the members of the Irish Parliamentary Party, writing that from the sons of average citizens, traders, and legal representative without clients they have become well-paid syndics, managers of factories and commercial houses, newspapers owners.

He predicted correctly that the British Conservatives would conspire to incite Ulster unionists to rebel against any settlement with the leadership in Dublin. He demanded an insurrection but cautioned, if Ireland wants to put on the ‘show’, this time, let it be comprehensive, and conclusive.

But he cautioned that telling these Irish actors to hurry up was hopeless. He predicted that he for one, was certain not to see that curtain rise as he will already have taken the last tram home. When the insurrection came, Joyce was for economic reasons then engaged in ‘taking the King’s shilling’ and remained quiet.

Anthony J. Jordan

Gildford Road

Dublin 4

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