the once famous Skin-the-Goat Fitzharris


    Mr Bloom and Stephen entered the cabman’s shelter, an unpretentious wooden structure, where, prior to then, he had rarely if ever been before, the former having previously whispered to the latter a few hints anent the keeper of it said to be the once famous Skin-the-Goat Fitzharris, the invincible, though he could not vouch for the actual facts which quite possibly there was not one vestige of truth in. A few moments later saw our two noctambules safely seated in a discreet corner only to be greeted by stares from the decidedly miscellaneous collection of waifs and strays and other nondescript specimens of the genus homo already there engaged in eating and drinking diversified by conversation for whom they seemingly formed an object of marked curiosity.

James Joyce. Ulysses (Page 508)

In 1882 the year Joyce was born, on 6th May, Lord Frederick Cavendish the Chief Secretary for Ireland and Thomas Henry Burke, Head of the Irish Civil Service, were murdered in the Phoenix Park. The murders were undertaken by “the Irish Invincibles” and are written about in the book The Phoenix Park Murders; Conspiracy, Betrayal & Retribution, (2006), Mercier Press, Cork written by Senan Molony.

An interesting point to note is that Joyce marks the year of the murders as 1881 when in fact they took place in 1882. Of course Joyce could be playing on the date being mistaken by Myles Crawford or indeed deliberately putting it in the year before he himself was actually born.

—You can do it, Myles Crawford repeated, clenching his hand in emphasis. Wait a minute. We’ll paralyse Europe as Ignatius Gallaher used to say when he was on the shaughraun, doing billiardmarking in the Clarence. Gallaher, that was a pressman for you. That was a pen. You know how he made his mark? I’ll tell you. That was the smartest piece of journalism ever known. That was in eightyone, sixth of May, time of the invincibles, murder in the Phoenix park, before you were born, I suppose. I’ll show you.

James Joyce. Ulysses (Pages 111,112)

James “Skin-the-Goat” Fitzharris was one of the car drivers and received a sentence of Penal Servitude for life. He was released in 1899 and died in September 1910. He appears in the Eumaeus episode of Ulysses when Stephen and Bloom take a break from their nocturnal wanderings.

When I ran along Chesterfield Avenue, the main spine of the Park, I could find no plaque or identifying mark. This obviously reflects the difficult relationship between Great Britain and the Republic of Ireland, but for such a major event it is surprising. The scene of the crime was directly across from the Viceregal Lodge, now Aras an Uachtarain.


Joyce, J. (1998) Ulysses. Edited by Hans Walter Gabler, Wolfhard Steppe, and Claus Melchior. Afterward by Michael Gordon edn. New York, United States: Vintage Books.

Molony, S. (2006) The Phoenix Park Murders: Conspiracy, Betrayal & Retribution. Cork, Ireland: The Mercier Press.

Click here to see the route details on Runkeeper

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