To celebrate this Bloomsday, we are looking beyond Ulysses and to some other Joycean treasures present in the collections of the Hardiman Library. One such item is an original, autographed edition of a collection of poems written by James Joyce entitled Pomes Penyeach. The volume also features intricate and ornate illustrations by James' daughter, Lucia Joyce. The volume, which contains the Galway-themed poem,She Weeps Over Rahoon, was donated to the Hardiman Library by Joyce himself in 1935.
The book was published by Obelisk Press, which was run by Jack Kahane, an admirer of Joyce’s work, and by Desmond Harmsworth. Editions of the book were signed by James Joyce and offered for sale at £12. Joyce sent copies to other authors and contacts in the publishing world and his letter notes that the book was deposited in the British Museum Library and the Bibliothèque Nationale.
Joyce personally sent a copy of Pomes Penyeach to the Hardiman Library of NUI Galway and a manuscript letter by Joyce sent to Prof. John Howley, University Librarian, was written in August 1935, accompanied the book.
In the letter Joyce indicates that his uncle-in-law, Michael Healy, had requested him to send a copy of the special edition of Pomes Penyeach to the Library. Joyce states that he was doing so not only because the illustrator was a “grand-daughter of Galway” and the bearer of one of the ancient tribal names but also as a token of appreciation of the support he had received over the years from Michael Healy himself.
|Manuscript inscription byJames Joyce, limited edition of 'Pomes Penyeach'|
The book is a beautiful reminder of the connection of Joyce to the City of Galway in his personal life through his relationship with Nora Barnacle and also in literary means, through She Weeps Over Rahoon and also as through numerous scenes and references in Joyce's masterful short story, the Dead.