Two Gallants

Silent O Moyle, from an early edition Moore's Melodies.

Silent O Moyle, from an early edition of Moore’s Melodies. (RIAM Archives)

The title is intentionally ironic: the “gallants”, Corley and his sidekick Lenehan, are unprepossessing and exploitative characters roaming the city of Dublin. Corley is to meet a servant girl later. On the way they pass a harper playing “Silent O Moyle”. Its mournful strains follow them down the street, almost appearing to berate them for their crass behaviour; the song later comes back to haunt Lenehan when he is alone and more introspective.

In Silent O Moyle, the story of Fionnuala, one of the Children of Lir, is a symbol of Ireland betrayed and degraded. Perhaps for Joyce it also suggested the cultural despondency and paralysis of the Dublin of his time.

Frontespiece of an early edition of Moore's Melodies. These songs formed part of the cultural backdrop to Joyce's upbringing, and references to them abound in Joyce's works.

Frontespiece of an early edition of Moore’s Melodies. These songs formed part of the cultural backdrop to Joyce’s early life, and references to them abound in Joyce’s works. (RIAM Archives)

 

 

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