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Nora Barnacle: The original Galway girl and James Joyce's muse

June 16, 1904, is the day depicted in James Joyce's Ulysses but it was also the day he had his first date with his lover and muse Nora Barnacle, after she had initially stood him up. As we prepare to celebrate another Bloomsday, Nuala O'Connor reflects on their 37-year relationship and the feisty Galway native whose passion and intellect was more than a match for that of her husband

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Nora Barnacle pictured on her wedding day

Nora Barnacle pictured on her wedding day

Clandestine affair: James Joyce (centre) and Nora Barnacle in London on July 4, 1931, after the wedding they had tried to keep quiet. Photo: Getty Images

Clandestine affair: James Joyce (centre) and Nora Barnacle in London on July 4, 1931, after the wedding they had tried to keep quiet. Photo: Getty Images

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Nora Barnacle pictured on her wedding day

James Joyce was a little at sea when he first met Galway girl Nora Barnacle - he was grieving for his mother who had recently died, he was no longer a college student, and he had no job or career prospects.

Nora, too, was out of her element. She had left Galway in a hurry, after a row with her uncle over a young man, and was new to clattery, lively Dublin town. She had work, though - and a bed - in Finn's Hotel, just off Dublin's Nassau Street. They were two young Irish people in 1904, both searching for something, both a little short on money when, one June day, they crossed paths.


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