On page 75 of A Reader's Guide to Finnegan Wake, in analysis of the line "to league his lot, palm and patte, with a papishee [62.9]", Tindall links "papishee" with both ALP and Nora, but without any justification. A quick google reveals that this link is now well repeated, without any further justification.

  • Does any Joyce lover know how "papishee" relates to Nora Barnacle?

Since the correct answer is most probably negative (there is no direct relation to Nora), I would most certainly accept an answer such as "I have read Richard Ellman's James Joyce and do not recall James ever referring to Nora in such a manner."

2 Answers 2


Tindall is not to be recommended. Too little detail and much of it "without any further justification". You are much better with an up to date (4th) edition of McHugh's Annotations, and the Skeleton Key, or with Rose & O'Hanlons Understanding FW (harder to get). As you have gathered, the passage you refer to is one of many accounts of the marriage of Protestant immigrant HCE with Catholic (papishee) ALP in Dublin, the 7th city of Christendom. Terms like 'papist' and 'papishee' are obviously borrowed from the vocabulary of hostile Protestantism and have little relevance to the relation of Joyce & Nora Barnacle, who were both Catholics by upbringing.

  • The way Tindall links "papishee" to ALP-Nora (rather than just ALP), one gets the feeling that "papishee" was one of Joyce's terms for Nora, etc. But I can find no such reference.
    – fundagain
    Jun 4, 2018 at 13:14

By the standards set in the OP, the answer is no, "papishee" is not a term directly linkable to Nora. I have obtained a word searchable version of Richard Ellman's James Joyce, and Ellman, who is very familiar with Joyce's letters to Nora, makes no mention of the term. The term cannot be found when searching Google Books, etc., outside of Finnegans Wake or Tindall. Joyce made up the term for Finnegans Wake, and there is no evidence he ever used it outside of Finnegans Wake.

Of course, from this term we lean that Anna is catholic, in contrast to HCE, and this is not inconsistent with interpreting Anna through Nora.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.