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MacHugh’s perverse glorification of failure is not only ironic

but poignant. Like O’Molloy, MacHugh also confuses fiction

with fact. At the mention of the Invincibles, he claims that

“some hawkers were up before the recorder” (113), but the

hawkers, arrested for selling postcards and mementoes of the

Phoenix Park murders, did not appear before the recorder but

in police court (Gifford & Seidman, 1988: 142). Supposedly a

learned man, the professor, it seems, has a preference for

hearsay over actuality.

Joyce’s representation of MacHugh reaches its climax

when the professor recalls “[t]he finest display of oratory [he]

ever heard” in response to O’Molloy’s recitation of Bushe’s

polished period: a speech made by John F. Taylor on “the

revival of the Irish tongue” (1986: 116). MacHugh declares

that the topic was “new for those days,” that the Revival “was

then a new movement” (116); his account is not altogether

correct, though. When Taylor made the speech at the Trinity

College Historical Society in 1901, the Gaelic League (founded

in 1893) and its campaign for the revival of the Irish language

had already made considerable progress (Gifford & Seidman,

1988: 147-148); neither Taylor’s topic nor the Gaelic Revival

was “new.” Like O’Molloy, MacHugh performs theatrically

before reciting:

He closed his long thin lips an instant but, eager

to be on, raised an outspanned hand to his spectacles

and, with trembling thumb and ringfinger touching

lightly the black rims, steadied them to a new

focus. . . .

His gaze turned at once but slowly from J. J.

O’Molloy’s towards Stephen’s face and then bent at

once to the ground, seeking. . . .

He raised his head firmly. His eyes bethought

themselves once more. Witless shellfish swam in the

gross lenses to and fro, seeking outlet. (Joyce, 1986: