19 July 2022

How James Joyce refers
to Penny Modaunt’s family
in ‘Portrait of the Artist’

Clongowes Wood College, Co Kildare … James Joyce’s contemporaries included Patrick Rath, who makes passing appearances in ‘Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man’

Patrick Comerford

I am writing in the Wexford People and other newspapers in Co Wexford this week about Penny Mordaunt and the Tory leadership hopeful’s deep family roots in Co Wexford.

But there is also an interesting – even if distant – link with James Joyce too.

Esther or Hester Mordaunt (ca1843-1881) of Clone married Francis Rath of Garrydaniel in Enniscorthy on 15 September 1869. She was a sister of Edward Mordaunt (ca1831-1917), the great-great-grandfather of Penny Mordaunt.

Esther and Patrick Rath emigrated to Argentina, where they farmed extensively. She died in 1881 and is buried in the Mordaunt family plot marked with a headstone erected by her husband, Francis, who by then was a wealthy sheep-farmer in San Pedro, Buenos Aires.

Their only son, Patrick Rath (1873-1936), then, is a first cousin of Penny Mordaunt’s great-grandfather, Patrick Mordaunt (1874-1914), a warrant officer in a cavalry regiment.

Patrick Rath was aged about eight when his mother died in Argentina and he was sent home to Ireland to be educated in Clongowes Wood College. He was the Paddy Rath, a fellow student at Clongowes Wood College, who is referred to twice by James Joyce in Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, first published in 1916.

James Joyce was at school in Clongowes Wood from 1888 to 1891. Many of his contemporaries in Clogowes appear as characters in Portrait. They include ‘decent’ Fleming, Jack Lawton, ‘Nasty’ Roche, Wells who pushes Stephan Dedalus into a the ‘square ditch,’ Athy, Aubrey Mills, and Mike Flynn.

Other schoolboys in Clongowes at the time who are named by Joyce include Rody Kickham, Cecil Thunder, Simon Moonan, Hamilton Rowan, Dominic Kelly, Tusker Boyle, Jimmy Magee, Paddy Rath, Corrigan, Cantwell, Saurin and Anthony McSwiney. They serve as foils and sharp contrasts to Stephen Dedalus, representing the opposite of Stephen's artistic temperament and introspective behaviour. For the most part, they are either crude, disrespectful, or overtly physical.

Soon after he arrives at Clongowes, Stephen Dedalus, Joyce’s alter ego, is in the refectory when he observes: ‘Then the higher line fellows began to come down along the matting in the middle of the refectory, Paddy Rath and Jimmy Magee and the Spaniard who was allowed to smoke cigars and the little Portuguese who wore the woolly cap. And then the lower line tables and the tables of the third line. And every single fellow had a different way of walking.’

As he is on his way to receive corporal punishment, Stephen Dedalus wonders ‘What would happen? He heard the fellows of the higher line stand up at the top of the refectory and heard their steps as they came down the matting: Paddy Rath and Jimmy Magee and the Spaniard and the Portuguese and the fifth was big Corrigan who was going to be flogged by Mr Gleeson.’

After leaving school, Patrick M Rath wrote ‘Up Country in the Argentine’ for the school magazine, The Clongownian (Christmas, 1900, pp 14-17). Rath addresses his paper to ‘old Tullabeggars and Clongownians’ and describes the life on his ranch from a traditional perspective, with many colourful descriptions of the pampas and of work on a sheep-farm and depictions of gauchos similar to William Bulfin’s characters.

Paddy Rath was living on Northumberland Road in Dublin when he married Sarah Murtagh on 4 July 1906. She was the daughter of Francis Murtagh, a shopkeeper, of Elm Grove, Ranelagh. The witnesses are their wedding in Rathmines were Eileen Meehan and James M Magee, the ‘Jimmy Magee’ also referred to by James Joyce in Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man.

Paddy also played rugby for Bective Rangers. He and Sarah had no children. His funeral in 1936 was attended by the leader of the opposition and former Taoiseach, WT Cosgrave, and his wife Louisa (Flanagan), as well as members of the extended Mordaunt family.

Paddy Rath and his cousin Patrick Mordaunt (1874-1914) were contemporaries of Edward Mordaunt (1866-1957), a Jesuit who was born in Gorey, Co Wexford. Although Edward was a lay brother in the Jesuit community in Milltown Park, perhaps this explains why Paddy Rath was sent to school with the Jesuits in Clongowes Wood, and Patrick Mordaunt’s son, New Mordaunt, Penny Mordaunt’s grandfather, was sent to school with the Jesuits in Mungret College, Co Limerick.

At least three women in this Mordaunt family were nuns: Elizabeth Mordaunt (born 1867) was a Sister of Charity teaching at Saint Paul the Apostle, Monkgate, York (1891, 1901, 1911); Margaret Mordaunt (born 1879) was a Sister of Charity teaching at Saint Patrick’s Convent, York Road, Leeds (1911); and Mary Mordaunt (born 1880 ) was a Sister of Charity of Saint Paul in Saint Paul's Convent, King’s Norton, Worcestershire (1901).

They are further interesting insights into the family background of the Tory hopeful Penny Mordaunt who was also educated at a convent school.

‘Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man’ (1916) makes two references to Paddy Rath … he was a first cousin of Penny Mordaunt’s great-grandfather, Patrick Mordaunt

Praying with the Psalms in Ordinary Time:
19 July 2022 (Psalm 146)

‘Happy are those whose help … is in the Lord their God, who made heaven and earth’ (Psalm 146: 5-6) … evening skies after sunset in Stony Stratford (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2022)

Patrick Comerford

In the Calendar of the Church, we are in Ordinary Time. The calendar of the Church of England in Common Worship today (19 July 2022) commemorates Gregory, Bishop of Nyssa, and his sister Macrina, deaconess, teachers of the faith in the fourth century. Before today begins, I am taking some time this morning to continue my reflections drawing on the Psalms.

In my blog, I am reflecting each morning in this Prayer Diary in these ways:

1, Short reflections on a psalm or psalms;

2, reading the psalm or psalms;

3, a prayer from the USPG prayer diary.

Psalm 146:

Psalm 146 is the first of fthe ive final concluding praise Psalms in the Book of Psalms (Psalm 146 to Psalm 150). In the slightly different numbering system in the Greek Septuagint and the Latin Vulgate, this is Psalm 145. The opening words of this psalm in Latin are: Lauda anima mea Dominum.

Psalms 146 to 150 form the culmination or crescendo of the Book of Psalms as a whole. These six psalms correspond to the six days of creation. These psalms are not attributed to David. In the Septuagint, Psalms 145 to 148 are given the title ‘of Haggai and Zechariah.’

Psalms 146 and 147 are seen by some commentators as twin Psalms. Both psalms draw on images from Isaiah 61, such as setting captives free, opening blind eyes and healing the broken-hearted.

Besides Isaiah 61, the themes in this Psalm are also found in Leviticus 25 (the year of Jubilee).

This is one of six Psalms involving preaching to self, using the evocative phrase ‘O my soul’ (see Psalms 42, 43, 103, 104, 116 and 146).

Psalm 146 draws a contrast between human and divine rule. As humans, we are mortal, we come from dust and return to dust (see verse 4); God is eternal, as are the values by which he governs the affairs of humanity.

Psalm 146 reminds us how God loves those who follow his ways, cares for the stranger in the land, looks after the orphan and the widow, and upsets the plans of the wicked.

The psalmist will praise God throughout his life. We should not look to powerful people for security and help because they are finite: when they die, so do their plans.

But God is to be trusted, for he is creator, and he keeps his promises forever. He gives justice to those who suffer, bread to those who hunger, freedom to the prisoner, sight to the blind, hope to the oppressed and those on the margins of society.

He loves those who follow his ways, cares for the stranger in the land, looks after the orphan and the widow, upsets the plans of the wicked.

The former Chief Rabbi, the late Lord (Jonathan) Sacks, says these principles of justice and compassion run through Jewish history as the governing ideals of a society under the sovereignty of God.

This is the God who shall reign for ever.

‘The Lord … gives food to the hungry’ (Psalm 146: 5-7) … lunch in Stony Stratford (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2022)

Psalm 146 (NRSVA):

1 Praise the Lord!
Praise the Lord, O my soul!
2 I will praise the Lord as long as I live;
I will sing praises to my God all my life long.

3 Do not put your trust in princes,
in mortals, in whom there is no help.
4 When their breath departs, they return to the earth;
on that very day their plans perish.

5 Happy are those whose help is the God of Jacob,
whose hope is in the Lord their God,
6 who made heaven and earth,
the sea, and all that is in them;
who keeps faith for ever;
7 who executes justice for the oppressed;
who gives food to the hungry.

The Lord sets the prisoners free;
8 the Lord opens the eyes of the blind.
The Lord lifts up those who are bowed down;
the Lord loves the righteous.
9 The Lord watches over the strangers;
he upholds the orphan and the widow,
but the way of the wicked he brings to ruin.

10 The Lord will reign for ever,
your God, O Zion, for all generations.
Praise the Lord!

Today’s Prayer:

The theme in the prayer diary of the Anglican mission agency USPG (United Society Partners in the Gospel) this week is ‘Turning Point,’ looking at the work of the Diocese of Kurunegala in the Church of Ceylon in Sri Lanka. This theme was introduced on Sunday.

Tuesday 19 July 2022:

The USPG Prayer Diary invites us to pray today in these words:

We pray for the Diocese of Kurunegala and their capacity-building programme. May they teach, tend, treasure and transform churches within the diocese.

Yesterday’s reflection

Continued tomorrow

Scripture quotations are from the New Revised Standard Version Bible: Anglicised Edition copyright © 1989, 1995, National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide. http://nrsvbibles.org