Monday, November 14, 2016


A few days ago a visitor to the city asked me for directions to St. John’s Hotel but I was unable to assist her as I did not know of a hotel by that name. I did not realise that the Oliver St.John Gogarty was a hotel as well as a pub. Also in Ireland the St.John bit of the name is pronounced as ’Sinjin’. If she had even asked for the Gogarty Hotel I might have guessed where she was trying to locate.

Oliver Joseph St John Gogarty (17 August 1878 – 22 September 1957) was an Irish poet, author, otolaryngologist, athlete, politician, and well-known conversationalist, who served as the inspiration for Buck Mulligan in James Joyce's novel Ulysses.

As one of Dublin's "medicos", Gogarty was known to be fond of public pranks and midnight carousing in "the Kips", Dublin's red-light district. He had a talent for humorous and bawdy verse, which quickly made the rounds through the city, and sometimes composed mnemonic lyrics to aid his medical studies. He also enjoyed a highly successful cycling career before being banned from the tracks in 1901 for bad language, and between 1898 and 1901 he rescued at least four people from drowning. He became interested in Irish nationalism after meeting Arthur Griffith in 1899, and contributed propaganda pieces to The United Irishman over subsequent years.

I once heard a story that upon saving someone from drowning he received a reward of one penny from the person’s father who claimed that his son was not even worth a penny and that he should consider himself lucky to receive such a generous reward. Apparently most people agreed with the father.


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