April 2021

Pride of Calpe’s rocky mount, the ravenhaired daughter of Tweedy


    Pride of Calpe’s rocky mount, the ravenhaired daughter of Tweedy. There grew she to peerless beauty where loquat and almond scent the air. The gardens of Alameda knew her step: the garths of olives knew and bowed. The chaste spouse of Leopold is she: Marion of the bountiful bosoms.

James Joyce, Ulysses (p. 262)

In Ulysses, Leopold’s wife Molly Bloom is from Gibraltar. Her father Sergeant Major Brian Tweedy, from Dolphin’s Barn in Dublin, rose from through the ranks of the British Army and married Lunita Loredo from Gibraltar.

Where could Joyce have developed the idea of Molly’s parents being an Irish Sergeant Major in the British Army and his wife being from Gibraltar?

Joyce intertwined real and imagined characters into his writing, often combining element of different real people into one imagined composite character. As Vivien Igoe notes in her book, The real people of James Joyce’s Ulysses: A biographical guide, “Joyce rarely invented anything.” (p.6) “Hundreds of names appear in Ulysses. Joyce was a great user of pre-existing material, which he recycled.” (p.2)


On October 1st 1863, Sergeant Major Bernard Connor, 28, bachelor, married Emilia Capacete, 25, spinster in the Cathedral of Saint Mary The Crowned in the diocese of Gibraltar.

The celebrant was Reverend Emmanuel Sciagaluga and the witnesses were Thomas McGoverny and John Riley.

Bernard Connor

Bernard Connor from Gorey in County Wexford and described as 5’7 and 5/8″ tall, of fresh complexion, hazel eyes and light brown hair, enlisted in the Royal Artillery Dublin on the 7th October 1858 when he was 19 years old. On the 23rd of March 1861 he embarked on the troopship Megaera landing in Gibraltar on the 1st April 1861.

On the 8th June 1861, he was promoted to Corporal, the position he held when he married Emilia Capacete in 1863.

In 1866 he left Gibraltar on the SS Californian for Port Royal in Jamaica. He stayed in Jamaica until 1869 when he returned to England, via Queenstown (Cobh) and Kingstown (Dun Laoghaire).

The census of 1871 shows Bernard as living in Shorncliffe, Kent, with three children. In 1877 he was promoted to Brigade Sergeant Major, stationed at Woolwich. On the 16th December 1879 he was discharged and gave his intended place of residence as Clonmel, Ireland.

Emelia Capacete

Emilia was born in San Roque,  Spain, a few kilometres to the north of Gibraltar, which according to Don Gifford was a Spanish Garrison Town (p. 614). Joyce refers to San Roque as La Roque in Molly Bloom’s soliloquy

…I love to see a regiment pass in review the first time I saw the Spanish cavalry at La Roque it was lovely after looking across the bay from Algeciras all the lights of the rock like fireflies…

James Joyce, Ulysses (p. 617)

Emilia’s father was Antonio Capacete and her mother was Anna Moreno. Emilia was born in 1838, making her 25 when she married.

She had two sisters, Anna Maria Rosa who married Joseph Miller in 1859 and Maria Dolores who married Charles Mullis in 1864.

There is a link to Google Maps showing Gibraltar, San Roque and Algeciras here.

North Strand Road

The census of 1901 shows Bernard Connor and Emilia, now Amelia Connor living at 113 North Strand Road, Dublin. The census lists them both as being 61 years of age.

According to Thom’s Dublin Directory, Bernard Connor lived at 113 North Strand from 1891 to 1906.

Listed as living at 103 North Strand in 1904 and 1905, ten doors away is William Murray. His wife, Josephine Murray (nee Giltrap), was James Joyce’s aunt.

The North Strand Road appears several times in Joyce’s works, and is the road the boys walk out in An Encounter in Dubliners.

113 North Strand Road was a few doors north of the junction with Leinster Avenue. 103 North Strand Road is 10 doors south of the junction of Leinster Avenue, on the corner of the junction with St. Bridgid’s Avenue.

113 North Strand Road has been replaced by The North Strand Fire Station, which opened in 1976. 113 would have been between the trees at the entrance to the Fire Station.

There is a link to Google Maps showing the North Strand Road, Dublin, here.

Aunt Josephine

Josephine Murray was Joyce’s favourite aunt. He often consulted her on matters to do with the physical infrastructure in Dublin such as questions about the trees and the steps in Leahy’s Terrace, Sandymount and the railings at 7 Eccles Street, information he needed for accuracy in Ulysses. He also sought information about people who appeared in the novel.

He wrote to her on the 14th October 1921, shortly before the publication of Ulysses asking for facts on the Dillon family, instructing her to “Get an ordinary sheet of foolscap and a pencil and scribble any God damn drivel you may remember about these people.”

Ellmann, Selected Letters of James Joyce (p.286)


Joyce stayed with his aunt on a few occasions in 1904, most notably after leaving the Tower in Sandycove.

It is possible that Joyce talked with his aunt about her neighbours when they met in 1904, as after they had come all the way from Gibraltar, but it is also possible James Joyce met Bernard Connor and Amelia Connor.

    No. She didn’t want anything. He heard then a warm heavy sigh, softer, as she turned over and the loose brass quoits of the bedstead jingled. Must get those settled really. Pity. All the way from Gibraltar. Forgotten any little Spanish she knew. Wonder what her father gave for it. Old style. Ah yes! of course. Bought it at the governor’s auction. Got a short knock. Hard as nails at a bargain, old Tweedy. Yes, sir. At Plevna that was. I rose from the ranks, sir, and I’m proud of it. Still he had brains enough to make that corner in stamps. Now that was farseeing.

James Joyce, Ulysses (p. 46)

Major Tweedy

Joyce’s biographer Ellmann notes that Major Tweedy was based on a Major Powell “although he was only a sergeant-major”.

Ellmann, James Joyce (p. 46).

Joyce himself refers to Powell in a letter to his Aunt Josephine, Mrs. William Murray, sent on 21st December 1922, looking for details of various people similar to what she has supplied “…about Major Powell—in my book Major Tweedy, Mrs Bloom’s Father?”

Letters of James Joyce, Volume One Edited by Stewart Gilbert (p. 198)

Details of what Josephine Murray wrote in relation to Sergeant-Major Powell do not seem to have survived. But it is unlikely that he was stationed in Gibraltar and Vivien Igoe notes that he joined the Life Guards and married a woman from Kent, rather than Gibraltar. So the parallels with Major Tweedy are scant.

It is likely that Joyce took elements of the lives of Bernard Connor and Emilia Capacete and combined them with details of Sergeant Major Powell, to create Major Tweedy and Lunita Loredo, the parents of Molly Bloom.

…my mother whoever she was might have given me a nicer name the Lord knows after the lovely one she had Lunita Laredo the fun we had running along Williss road to Europa point twisting in and out all round the other side of Jersey they were shaking and dancing about in my blouse like Millys little ones now when she runs up the stairs…

James Joyce, Ulysses (p. 627)


Why would this information not have been discovered before?

It could be that Joyce knew nothing of Bernard and Amelia, and the links are coincidental. To me, this seems unlikely.

Perhaps people knew, but maybe some families did not want to be associated with the formulation of the character of Molly Bloom, who might have been regarded as less than chaste.

Ken Monaghan, James Joyce’s nephew writes of his mother,

It was about this time that it came to be known to the family that she was the sister of James Joyce, that awful writer in foreign parts. This was the final blow. The association was seen as bringing shame and disgrace on the good name of the Monaghan family. One of my father’s sisters, my aunt Molly, is reputed to have said at my grandmother’s funeral, ‘Isn’t the mercy of God that our dear mother died without knowing that her beloved son was married to the sister of that Antichrist, James Joyce.’

Ken Monaghan Joyce’s Dublin Family (p.11,12)

Glasnevin Cemetery

In common with over one million Dubliners, The Connors and the Murrays lie in Glasnevin Cemetery.

The headstone in Glasnevin Cemetery notes that Amelia Connor died on the 26th January 1906 and Bernard Connor on 4th October 1908.

The gravestone also lists Amelia Murphy, died, 19th May 1923, most likely a daughter, in the same plot. The name Amelia is often shortened to Milly. In Ulysses, Milly is the Blooms’ daughter.

Josephine Murray, listed in the Glasnevin Cemetery records as an accountant’s widow lies with her husband William in a shared plot with no headstone.

The Run

In most of these blog posts I am concerned with intertwining a run and a narrative.

In this case the run is of less importance than the historical significance of the characters and their journey, but the running notes follow.

Route Notes

I decided to run from North Strand Road where the Connors and the Murrays lived, to Glasnevin Cemetery, where their remains lie.

Joyce lived in and around the North Inner City and this route goes past five of the houses he lived in.

Start: North Strand Road

I headed north along North Strand Road past the site of the Vitriol Works from An Encounter in Dubliners, and past Fairview Park, formerly the mudflats that Fr. Conmee avoided by taking an outbound tram in the Wandering Rocks episode in Ulysses.

I then ran through a concentrated area of house that Joyce lived in, in Fairview. I ran up Windsor Avenue, through to Inverness Road, formerly Royal Terrace, through and down Richmond Avenue and then heading west past the house at Convent Avenue, crossing the Drumcondra Road.

In chronological order of when Joyce lived in them the houses I ran past are:

1894 2 Millbourne Avenue

1895 29 Windsor Avenue

1899 Convent Avenue

1900 Richmond Terrace

1900 Royal Terrace, now Inverness Road

I had hoped to run down the lane to the rear of the houses in Inverness Road, where Stephen hears the woman screaming A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man. The lane is now closed off at both ends.

I chose to run past the houses in a non chronological order, leaving the chronological running for a different run and blogpost. The house he lived in in 2 Millbourne Avenue has been demolished, replaced by apartments called James Joyce Court.

This area is very much changed since Joyce lived there, with open fields being developed as suburban housing. After running past the last site at Millbourne Avenue I ran through Griffith Park. This was open fields in Joyce’s time and they would no doubt have played in them at the edge of the Tolka River.

I run south down St. Mobhi Road towards Phibsborough before running to Prospect Square, past The Gravediggers pub and the rear entrance to the Cemetery

Running down the lane towards the Finglas Road I turn north, along the road where Paddy Dignam’s funeral cortege passes in the Hades episode of Ulysses.

Finish: Glasnevin Cemetery

The route ends in Glasnevin Cemetery, where over 1.5 million people are buried. You can see details on the Glasnevin Trust website here.

Vivien Igoe notes that there are over 150 characters from Ulysses interred in Glasnevin.

I am interested in just two. Graves in Glasnevin can be a little tricky to find. There are rows on graves running east west which are designated with letters and grave positions running north south which are indicated by numbers. These codes are displayed on the perimeter walls but are hard to relate to within the cemetery. Many gravestones are marked, often at the back, and these provide much more help in understanding the grids that locate the graves.

First I run to the location of grave of Josephine Murray at AG135.5 in the Garden Section, where the grave is unmarked.

I then run to the grave of Amelia and Bernard O’Connor in QJ337.5 in St. Bridgid’s Section.

References Cited

Ellmann R. (Ed.) (1975) Selected Letters of James Joyce, Faber and Faber, London, United Kingdom.

Ellmann, R. (1983) James Joyce, New and Revised Edition. Oxford University Press.New York, USA.

Gifford, D. and Seidman, R.J. (2008) Ulysses Annotated: Notes for James Joyce’s Ulysses. 2nd edn. Berkeley, California, United States: University of California Press.

Igoe, V. (2006) James Joyce’s Dublin houses and Nora Barnacle’s Galway. Lilliput Press, Dublin, Ireland.

Igoe, V. (2016) The real people of Joyce’s Ulysses: A biographical guide, University College Dublin Press, Dublin, Ireland.

Joyce, J. (1957) Letters of James Joyce Volume One. Edited by Stuart Gilbert. Faber & Faber London, England.

Joyce, J. (1986) Ulysses: Corrected texts (ed. Gabler, H.W., with Steppe, W. and Melchior, C., Afterword Groden, M.) First Vintage Books Edition, New York, USA.

Monaghan, K. (2005) Joyce’s Dublin Family. The James Joyce Centre, Dublin, Ireland.


There is a longer bibliography of background material here.


You can see more on my research output on the Technological University Dublin repository Arrow, here.


My friend Ann Murphy, whose father was the grandson of Bernard and Amelia and who started me off on this journey.

Charles Jurado, Archivist at Saint Mary the Crowned, Catholic Church, Gibraltar for researching the marriage records of Amelia Capacete and Bernard Connor.

The National Archives, Kew, Richmond, Surrey TW9 4DU, United Kingdom, for information on Bernard Connor’s enlistment.

Annelize Sciortino at the BDM Registry, Civil Status and Recognition Office, HM Government of Gibraltar.

Fran O’Rourke, for spurring me on to the finish.

Route Map

You can see more detailed route notes, here.