Nora Barnacle, the Galwegian who married James Joyce’ and inspired some of his greatest writings, will be the subject of a new radio documentary.
Nora, Nora, produced by Renmore based Sound Woman Productions, will be broadcast on Galway Bay FM on St Stephen’s Day, Wednesday December 26, at 4pm.
The documentary traces her life from her beginnings in Bowling Green through to her days in Trieste, Paris, and Zurich, with Joyce and their two children.
Nora, Nora begins in Galway city and recounts how she left there at 19 after a beating from her uncle, who disapproved of her then boyfriend.
“In Galway at the beginning of the last century, the fact that she was going out with the son of an RIC man, who was also a Protestant, would have been frowned upon” according to local historian Tom Kenny, who features in the programme.
The programme also hears from Kitty Kelly, Bowling Green’s oldest resident, who remembers the Barnacle family. She recalls how Nora’s mother would call over to her own mother to “discussed the Joyce situation. At the time, going off with a man without being married was considered to be a huge disgrace.”
Senator David Norris is also featured and will discuss Nora’s meeting with Joyce in Dublin.
“Nora Barnacle wasn’t very long in Dublin when she met James Joyce,” he says. “It was from here she set out, with great courage and tenacity, on a journey of a lifetime, one that would see her at the centre of European intellectual life.”
The programme then travels to the various places where Nora and James Joyce lived, and feature contributions from John McCourt, a Dublin scholar long resident in Trieste; Fritz Senn, director of the James Joyce Foundation; and Jean O’Sullivan, who spent several months researching the Joyce and Nora’s 18 addresses in Paris.