By Ray Burke, Chief News Editor RTÉ News

A first-hand account by James Joyce of his unsuccessful attempts to avoid publicity when he married Nora Barnacle in London in 1931 is among the most recent additions to the National Library’s digital collections.

Two previously-unpublished letters from Joyce to his son Giorgio in the days before and after the wedding are among more than 160 items digitized for online viewing by the National Library this summer on behalf of the James Joyce Foundation in Zurich. See for complete access.

Drawing of James Joyce by Wyndham Lewis, 1920. NLI Ref: PD JOYC-JA (1) II Drawing of James Joyce by Wyndham Lewis, 1920. NLI Ref: PD JOYC-JA (1) II


The handwritten letters contain a detailed account of  Joyce’s alarm and distress when the English newspapers discovered that he was about to marry Nora Barnacle in a civil ceremony in London after they had been living together as husband and wife for nearly 27 years in Austria, Italy, Switzerland and France.

Joyce had tried to keep the wedding secret by delaying his application for a marriage licence until two days before the civil ceremony and by using his full name – James Augustine Aloysius Joyce – and omitting his birthplace and his profession from the application.  But a Press Association reporter confirmed the prospective groom’s identity and journalists laid siege to Joyce at his home and at the Kensington Register Office over the following days.

“All day the bell went and the telephone.  Even at midnight when we came back from supper there was a reporter posted on the steps,” Joyce told Giorgio five days after the wedding, adding that anyone who thought the ceremony was a publicity stunt “must be a complete imbecile”.

The four-page, closely-written letter goes on to outline the persistent demands of the “Press Association man” for a statement, as well as the scene outside the Kensington Register Office on the wedding day when the street was full of newspapermen.  It also recounts a “pure blackmail” attempt by a Sunday Express reporter who tricked his way into Joyce’s home later that day.

The Press Association man had approached Joyce near his home – in exclusive Campden Grove, just off Kensington Church Street – within hours of the advance wedding notice being posted at the Register Office.  Joyce told Giorgio that he tried to buy time by continuing to chew a marzipan cake or sweet that he was eating, but the reporter “went on to say he had been sent to me for a statement as to why, if I married N. B. in 1904, I was etc etc”.

Joyce brought the PA reporter into his home while he tried to get advice by telephone from his solicitor and from his friend Robert Lynd, the Belfast-born literary editor of the News Chronicle.  The PA man persisted in seeking a statement and he only went away when Joyce promised that his solicitor would supply one before 9pm.

Postcard from James Joyce, Ventimiglia, Italy to Giorgio and Helen Joyce, 01.04.1934. NLI Ref: JBZJJF/L/2/09 Postcard from James Joyce, Ventimiglia, Italy to Giorgio and Helen Joyce, 01.04.1934. NLI Ref: JBZJJF/L/2/09


The solicitor, Fred Munro, advised Joyce to “make a clean breast of it”, the author told Giorgio.  He added that Munro also wanted to say in the statement that Joyce and Nora were going through the civil ceremony in English law “for domestic reasons”, but that he had insisted instead on using the words “testamentary reasons”.  Joyce told Giorgio that the “testamentary reasons” explanation was true because he would have to make a new will.  But he added:  “The story that we are to stand by is that there was a marriage in 1904 in Austria invalid for some reason”.  He said he would “invent” a reason, possibly “that Nora’s name was given falsely”, lest her parents should now make inquiries through the British Consulate in Austria.

The agreed statement, dictated personally to the Press Association by Munro, did not convince the Fleet Street newspapers.  On the morning of the wedding they included the statement in their reports, but they also pointed out that Joyce’s Who’s Who entry stated that “he was married in 1904 to Miss Nora Barnacle, of Galway”.

The encounter with the Sunday Express reporter who tricked his way into the Joyce home on the afternoon of the wedding by pretending to be a friend of a friend is also described in the letter.  Joyce said the reporter told him that he had inspected the marriage register and he wanted Joyce to comment on why it described Nora as a “spinster”.    Joyce said he got rid of him by referring him to his solicitor, but that “in ten minutes he was back” with a message from his editor.

“It was pure blackmail”, Joyce told Giorgio.  “They offered me half of the middle page if I would write an article for the next day on Modern Marriage and Free Love and he gave me to understand that if I did I would be well paid and if I did not the paper would hold itself free to deal with my ‘double marriage’ as it pleased”.

Joyce told Giorgio that he dismissed the reporter’s persistent begging for a statement and he went on:  “I told him to inform his editor that I did not write for the Press and did not read it either, but that my solicitor would read with the proper attention anything they might publish.  The Express came out next day without one word. (Keep all this to yourself)”.

Announcement of publication of Ulysses, 1921. Announcement of publication of Ulysses, 1921.


The dismay in the post-wedding letter to Giorgio is in stark contrast to the jocose tone of his letter written two days before the event.  “My Dear Children”, he wrote to Giorgio and his wife Helen, “…the marriage has been arranged for Saturday July 4 (my father’s birthday and the birthday of my brother George to say nothing of American independence) at the hour of 11.15am Greenwich time”.

He added:  “To throw people off the scent the bride will wear her lifeguard uniform while the groom will be in green satin with a white veil and an orange umbrella”.  And he advised:  “Try to look as natural as possible so that people meeting you may not perceive that you have been turned into honest citizens all of a sudden”.  Before signing off with the usual signature he used when writing to his children, “Babbo”, he also wrote:  “Say your prayers…and don’t eat with the knife”.

Joyce usually wrote to his children in Italian, but his letters to Giorgio and his American wife, Helen, are written in English.  His handwriting is poor and some words are indecipherable.  His eyesight was deteriorating badly by the time of his London wedding, when he was aged 49 and Nora was 47.

This new National Library digital collection is owned by the Zurich James Joyce Foundation, to which it was bequeathed by Giorgio’s step son, Professor Hans Jahnke, who died in 2010.  Professor Jahnke inherited the material from his late mother Asta, who was Giorgio’s second wife and heir, and it was his expressed wish that scholars have access to it and that it not be scattered or sold.

Aside from the wedding letters, the collection contains several other personal letters and postcards from Joyce to Giorgio and Helen and to Joyce’s only grandson, Stephen, as well as to the Joyce family in general.  It also includes copies of Work in Progress, Ecce Puer and other poems and a broadsheet of The Holy Office.  The material cannot be reproduced without the permission of the Zurich James Joyce Foundation – See

Postcard from James Joyce, Hotel Casino de Deauville, Deauville to the Joyce family,  08.08.1936. NLI Ref: JBZJJF/L/5/01 Postcard from James Joyce, Hotel Casino de Deauville, Deauville to the Joyce family,
08.08.1936. NLI Ref: JBZJJF/L/5/01


By Ian Kenneally, Historian, Author and Broadcaster. He is currently a PhD student at the History Department, NUI Galway.

The Irish Bulletin began publication on 11 November 1919 and ended publication in December 1921. During that period it was published as a daily newspaper. It was funded by Dáil Éireann; specifically the Department of Propaganda (renamed the Department of Publicity around February 1921). It was edited by Desmond Fitzgerald and, from February 1921, Erskine Childers. Frank Gallagher and, to a lesser degree, Robert Brennan provided much of the content for each edition. Another important figure was Kathleen McKenna who worked on the production and printing of the paper throughout its existence. Its initial print run was thirty copies, sent to newspapers in Britain and Europe. By May 1921 this figure had increased to 650 copies sent to newspapers and politicians around the world. By the time of the Anglo-Irish Treaty in December 1921 this circulation had increased to around 900 copies.

Irish-Bulletin_002-(2) Irish Bulletin, 11 March 1920 – Headline: ‘Starving Irishmen into Emigration’


The paper was a publicity newspaper, whose goal was to place news of Dáil Éireann’s activities and those of the Irish Republican Army in prominent foreign newspapers. By so doing, the Dáil hoped to make foreign journalists and public figures aware of events in Ireland. The Irish Bulletin also highlighted the actions of the Crown forces in Ireland, specifically reprisals conducted by various sections of the police and the British army. In its early days the Irish Bulletin’s contents were mostly confined to lists of raids and arrests. It was gradually expanded so that, from early 1920, the paper compiled more detailed and dramatic accounts of incidents believing that such reports would provoke more interest among journalists.

Desmond Fitzgerald by Shemus (Ernest Forbes), 1923 Desmond Fitzgerald, 1st editor of the Irish Bulletin by Shemus (Ernest Forbes), 1923


Fitzgerald, Gallagher and Childers believed that it was vital to use the limited funds available to the Bulletin to target persons in positions of influence, especially in Britain. This strategy achieved much success in the months after the ‘Sack of Balbriggan’ in September 1920. The paper was quoted in many English newspapers and its reports were cited in the House of Commons by Members of Parliament hostile to British government policy in Ireland. By using the Bulletin as a source these journalists and public figures enhanced the influence and reach of the paper far beyond its limited circulation.

The paper’s history is examined by Kenneally, Ian, ‘a tainted source? – The Irish Bulletin 1919-1921’ in Larkin, Felix and O’Brien, Mark (Eds), Periodicals and Journalism in Twentieth-Century Ireland, (Four Courts Press, 2014). Other publications to analyse the paper include Kenneally, Ian, The Paper Wall: newspapers and propaganda in Ireland 1919-1921 (The Collins Press, 2008) and Inoue, Keiko, ‘Propaganda II: propaganda of Dáil Éireann, 1919-1921’ in Augusteijn, Joost, The Irish Revolution, 1913-1923, (Palgrave, 2002). Kathleen McKenna wrote an important memoir of her time on the paper in ‘The Irish Bulletin’, Capuchin Annual, 1970. The Aubane Historical Society has published the first of a proposed multi-volume reprinting of each edition of the paper: Lane, Jack (Ed), Irish Bulletin: Volume One (Aubane Historical Society, 2012). Biographies of Fitzgerald, Childers, Gallagher, McKenna and Brennan can be found in the Dictionary of Irish Biography.

The Irish Bulletin can be consulted on microfilm in the main reading room of the National Library.

Irish Bulletin, 11 Nov. 1920 - Headline: 'Lecture on Technical Education Supressed' Irish Bulletin, 11 Nov. 1920 – Headline: ‘Lecture on Technical Education Supressed’


[This is the latest in a series of blogs connected to a joint project (Newspaper Descriptors Project) by the National Library of Ireland and the Newspaper & Periodical History Forum of Ireland (NPHFI). The project aims to provide short descriptors or pen notes for the newspaper titles listed in our Newspaper Database here at the National Library. The descriptors include such information as publication dates, proprietors and funding, editors and significant journalists, circulation figures (if known), comment on the newspaper’s political affiliation, and mention any histories written on the various titles - Justin Furlong, NLI Newspaper Librarian]


by Karl Leonard, DIT NPA Internship, Sept-Dec 2013.

The Archiving in Context module for BA Photography students at the Dublin Institute of Technology (DIT) provides third year photography students with practical experience of working with a photographic collection at the National Photographic Archive (NPA). This internship was undertaken in the NPA under the Supervision of Elizabeth Kirwan, curator at the National Photographic Archive, and with Matthew Cains the NLI Conservator and Keith Murphy, Reading Room Manager.

Hinde postcard of Connemara Hinde postcard of Connemara (1968)


My task was to sort, rehouse, and list the contents of an archival box full of photographs, the NPA’s John Hinde postcard collection.  It was an opportunity to learn about the work of John Hinde, whom I had only previously known for his stereotypical Irish postcards with rolling green hills and red-haired children. I hoped that it might be possible to track down any remaining Hinde family members or Hinde studio employees to get a first-hand account of the work done by Hinde.

Mathew Cains, the National Library of Ireland’s (NLI) conservator, trained me in preservation methods, so I could handle and rehouse the Hinde Collection according to best international practice.  This included how to use Mylar housing, acid-free cardboard folders and nitrile gloves when handling photographic prints. The prints could then be catalogued, digitised and ultimately made accessible online.

I discovered that the Hinde photographic collection was produced by six photographers (including John Hinde himself) at the Hinde studios in Cabinteely, between 1957 and 1972. The NPA Hinde Collection consist of 441 colour A6 size postcards, 47 large 9”x6½” colour postcards, 10 pictorial letter guides and several miscellaneous documents and magazines related to the collection and Hinde’s career. However, it was missing its accession notes, in which museums and archives typically record the provenance of their collections.

Galtee Mountains (Hinde, 1972) Hinde postcard of Galtee Mountains (1972)


The Hinde Collection postcards were organised by location, under Irish county, and numbered sequentially on the back of the postcard in pencil. Through discussion with NPA staff, I gathered that the Hinde collection was in its original order.  The lack of accession notes necessitated further research to uncover who had previously organised the collection, whether it had been donated or sold to the NPA directly from the Hinde Studios in Cabinteely, or whether it had been donated or sold by a private collector.

What had happened to the Hinde Company after it was sold to Waterford Glass in 1972?  Were there any other existing archives of Hinde’s work?  I contacted the co-curator of, Michelle Abadie, who along with Marcus Davies had exhibited Hinde postcards at the Photographers Gallery in London in 2013.  Hinde’s family had donated his collection to the NationalMediaMuseum in Bradford after his death and it remains to be catalogued.

I contacted senior curator at IMMA, Christina Kennedy, where the 1993 Hindesight exhibition had been presented, and Joe Lee, who had produced Hindesight, a documentary on Hinde’s work. I also contacted Sean Hillen, who had worked with Hinde during the production of his Irelantis photomontages, and David Lee, photographic historian and writer for Source magazine. He advised contacting one of the remaining Hinde studio photographers Edmund Nagele, which I did with the assistance of Michael Pritchard, who like Hinde was a Fellow of the Royal Photographic Society (FRPS).

Edmund Nagele explained the process of commissioning, photographing, printing, retouching, and archiving at the Hinde studios.  As written codes like those pencilled on the NPA’s collection weren’t used, this suggested to me that the NPA’s Hinde collection was probably a donation from a private collector.

The NPA’s Hinde collection promoted Irish tourism before the development of digital imaging. Justin Carville (2011:10) argues that Hinde identified a “spiritual positivity, a sort of evangelical vision that could be projected throughout society by the humble tourist postcard.” This idealised view of Ireland was at the time in stark contrast with the grim realities of a stagnant economy and repressed society in 1950’s Ireland, thus often causing Hinde’s postcards to be “identified as emblematic of an ‘imaginary’ view of Ireland propagated by foreign photographers.”

The Hinde Studio created what Moroney (1998:20) describes as an “impossibly sunlit Ireland, dotted with red-haired kids in shawls, thatched cottages, jaunting cars, donkeys, lupin-fringed lakes: over lit landscapes of idealised rustic beauty and vivid fruit-flavoured colours.” Nagele described how all photography was undertaken with Plaubel Junior 4×5 cameras using Ektachrome-X sheet-film which was processed by hand at the factory in Cabinteely. The photographic department made black & white prints to the exact postcard size on which John Hinde made his now famous ‘colour-notes’.  These include: “make sky blue with white clouds”, “make (black) car RED”, and “remove telegraph post”.  The original transparencies together with the black & white colour-notes were sent to Milan, Italy where the colour-separation films were produced for John Hinde Ltd., and returned, after approximately six months, with the separation films and original transparencies including colour-notes. The 4-colour print separations were passed to the Platemaking Department to copy the CMYK separations onto printing plates.

Postcards Two Hinde postcard images


I discovered that using this technique of colour manipulation enabled Hinde to create impossibly Mediterranean blue skies and lush green fields which were to become the stereotypical representations of Ireland for many years. The scene was always very carefully constructed often with numerous return visits, and the composition was also very precisely designed often placing flowers or bushes in the front corner to add colour and fake the closeness of nature, while telephone poles and TV aerials were removed.

I was unable to establish who originally owned the collection.  I did rehouse each item in Mylar sleeves and created a detailed description of all 498 postcards.  In due course, this metadata can be transferred to the NLI’s online catalogue. I also discovered that the postcards consisted almost entirely of scenes from the thirty-two counties on the island of Ireland, with only three exceptions, two of those being airplanes in flight and the third being from one from the island of Jersey. My research revealed that Hinde photographers had travelled not only throughout Ireland particularly to Butlins Mosney holiday camp, but also throughout the UK, and to Africa and the Canary Islands.  As none of these locations feature in the NPA’s collection, it seems that the NPA Hinde Collection is a limited private collection focused on the island of Ireland.

collectionringbinder_small Hinde Collection in acid-free cardboard ringbound folder with two-pocket mylar sleeves


It was very rewarding to have completed this work for the NPA, sometimes laborious, but never dull. I especially enjoyed the investigative journey that unfolded which afforded me the privilege of meeting and interviewing some thoroughly interesting artists, film-makers and critics. For me it was a great learning opportunity to research and engage with such an interesting collection.


Carville, J. (2011): Photography And Ireland, London: Reaktion Books

Moroney, M. (1998): ‘Postcards From The Edge’, Cara, Vol. 31 No. 2, 20-8

Weski, T. (2008): ‘Introduction by Thomas Weski’, In: Parr, M (ed)(2008): Postcards [selected by] Martin Parr, London: Chris Boot