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Bloomsday is named for the day James Joyce met Nora Barnacle - but Joyceans should perhaps mark another day as a key influence

Mary Kenny


Nora Barnacle was James Joyce's great muse, but before the lovers ever met, his Jesuit education shaped the writer he would become

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Mary Kenny, writer and author. Photo: Tony Gavin

Mary Kenny, writer and author. Photo: Tony Gavin

Mary Kenny, writer and author. Photo: Tony Gavin

Bloomsday is named for the day James Joyce met Nora Barnacle, the decisive personal influence in his life.

But Joyceans should perhaps mark another day as a key influence: the day he first began his Jesuit education, as a boarder at Clongowes Wood. He was six-and-a-half years old, in 1888.

From that tender age, until he was 20, Joyce was constantly under the influence of Jesuit educators - with a brief interlude at the Christian Brothers O'Connell Schools. In later life he told his friend in Trieste, Italo Svevo, that rather than alluding to him as a Catholic, "to get the correct contour on me, you ought to allude to me as a Jesuit". The Jesuit influence remained with Joyce all his life.