Why Irish Politicians Are Seeking to Unearth James Joyce

They want him repatriated by 2022, but it won't be easy
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 16, 2019 1:04 PM CDT
Irish Politicians Seek to Unearth James Joyce
James Joyce's grave is seen in Zurich, Switzerland.   (Wikimedia/Lars Haefner)

James Joyce could be in for an international move some 70 years after his death. Officials in Ireland hope to dig up the country's "premier writer" in order to repatriate his remains and those of his wife, kept at a Swiss cemetery, before the 100th anniversary of Joyce's masterpiece Ulysses in 2022, reports the Guardian. Dublin City Council backed the move Monday after councillors Dermot Lacey and Paddy McCartan made the case that it was the final wish of the couple to be buried in the homeland Joyce departed in 1904 at age 22, per the Irish Times. "Exile was a key element in his writing but for it to follow him into eternity? I don't think that was part of the plan," says McCartan, who will now petition the Irish government to get on board. He may also need to convince Joyce's grandson and quite a few others.

After all, Joyce wasn't exactly fond of Irish society and the influence of the Catholic Church, which had a hand in ensuring Ulysses would be effectively banned in Ireland. And though the Guardian reports Ireland's external affairs minister rejected Nora Barnacle's request to have her husband's remains repatriated upon his death in Zurich following surgery on an ulcer in January 1941, the director of the Joyce Foundation in Switzerland says that's hardly evidence of Joyce's wishes. Indeed, Fritz Senn expects Joyce's grandson and others to object since Joyce lived in several European cities, "did not wish to go back to Ireland," "never accepted Irish citizenship" and ultimately died a British citizen, per TheJournal.ie. The request is further complicated by the fact that Joyce's son was buried alongside his parents in 1976. (Read more James Joyce stories.)

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