Page 20: Tim, Nick and Larry

"Cry not yet! There's many a smile to Nondum, with sytty 
maids per man, sir, and the park's so dark by kindlelight. But
look what you have in your handself! The movibles are scrawl-
ing in motions, marching, all of them ago, in pitpat and zingzang
for every busy eerie whig's a bit of a torytale to tell. One's upon
a thyme and two's behind their lettice leap and three's among the
strubbely beds. And the chicks picked their teeths and the domb-
key he begay began. You can ask your ass if he believes it..."

In this passage, we continue our exploration of the claybook and learn more about the development of writing. Joyce also gives us some instructions for reading the Wake, but more on that in a while.

This images depicts two girls (ALP & HCE's daughter Issy, and her reflection) being watched by the three soldiers (their sons in their conflict, Shem, Shaun, and in their unified nature, Shemshaun) from the beginning of time (menderthalltale 19.25). These watchers in their historical permanence represent every “tim, nick and larry of us, sons of the sod. sons littlesons, yea and lealittlesons, when uses not to be, every sue, siss and sally of us, duggers of Nan" (19.27). ALP (Nan), the mother of the text and the bringer of life--its very life force, in fact, is the unifying and recirculating energy of the Wake; as a river who flows into the sea, all waters are united in her; she washes away and yet preserves all of history; she is eternal and always mutable. And so we, as subjected to her power, are Tom, Dick, and Harry: all that we are has been before, and the Wake makes us conscious that what flickers into view only does so because it resonates with our own experiential frameworks.

So the writing that we see in the claybook is all writing at all moments: ogham and printing all at once. In this image, the markings on the passage tombs represent the beginning of writing. In fact, the carving on kerbstone 52 of the Newgrange passage tomb is almost contemporaneous with the Egyptian hieroglyphs in the image: both are about 5,000 years old.

At the end of the Claybook passage, Joyce cautions us not to be preoccupied with deciphering every detail of his text: "So you need hardly spell me how every word will be bound over to carry three score and ten toptypsical reading throughout the boo of Doublends Jined (may his forehead be darkened with mud who would sunder)..." (20.13-17). Doublends Jined is, of course, Dublin's Giant (Finn, or HCE), but in terms of reading, two ends that can be joined can only signify the circularity of the Wake.

Page 19 What a mnice old mness it all mnakes! A middenhide hoard of objects"

"Here (please to stoop) are selveran cued peteet peas of
quite a pecuniar interest inaslittle as they are the pellets that makethe tomtummy's pay roll. Right rank ragnar rocks and with these
rox orangotangos rangled rough and rightgorong. Wisha, wisha,
whydidtha? Thik is for thorn that's thuck in its thoil like thum-
fool's thraitor thrust for vengeance. What a mnice old mness it
all mnakes! A middenhide hoard of objects"

Here, if we continue, like the hen to stoop and scratch about the midden of the text, we will surely be able to find treasure. The use of alliteration on page 19 conjures up images of letters repeating themselves in various forms from Germanic Runes to Egyption Hieroglyphs. I visualised the midden as being like a Neolithic shell midden by a beach, with myriad shells within its layers. In this illustration, the crosssection of the midden that represents page 18 reveals a glimpse of ancient letters within its strata. The layers are roughly marked out on the left with ancient Irish numbers, while partially hidden within the jumble of letters are the hero and heroine of Finnegans Wake and with a major theme of the Wake itself--the stages of life--in hieroglyphs. I was thinking about how texts in early manuscripts were often embellished in gold to signify and ameliorate their value and importance. I added gold to the midden itself instead of applying it to the treasures that are the letters contained within it in order to symbolise the importance of the personal excavation of Finnegans Wake. After all, the most valuable way to experience the Wake is not through the words on the page but through what we do with them.

The imperatives "please to stoop" and "O stoop to please!" are repetition of a request previously made on page 19, and it can be read as a response to our reluctance as readers to burrow into the midden.

Trace this passage to find how Joyce begins to lay out hints as to what he's doing to with the language of the Wake: various letters from the English alphabet in its present state ("peas" and "cued") to its historic past ("thorn", or þ, an Old English letter form), from Greek or Hebrew ("alfrids, beatties, cormacks and daltons" as alpha, beta, gamma delta or aleph, bet, gimel, dalet) to German ("eegs", "epsilene"--also a Greek letter, but in its closeness to the German sounding "eegs", it makes sense to read it as German). See what other letter names you can find. This unearthing of language fragments and patterns is what the reader who approaches Finnegans Wake begins to undertake, but those patterns shift, and the fragments appear different in the light than they often did in situ in the midden.

You may be able to detect particular linguistic patterns now. "What a meanderthalltale to unfurl" resonates with Jute's "What a hauhauhauhaudibble thing, to be cause!" that we heard on page 16. You can also see the Tom, Dick, and Harry motif with "every tim, nick and larry of us"; we previously met them as "Touchole Fitz Tuomush. Dirty MacDyke. And Hairy O'Hurry." on page 8.

Page 18 (Stoop) if you are abcedminded,

"(Stoop) if you are abcedminded, to this claybook, what curios of signs (please stoop), in this allaphbed! Can you rede (since We and Thou had it out already) its world? It is the same told of all. Many. Miscegenations on miscegenations. Tieckle. They lived und laughed ant loved end left. Forsin. Thy thingdome is given to the Meades and Porsons. The meandertale, aloss andagain, of our old Heidenburgh in the days when Head-in-Clouds walked the earth.""

Stoop if you are abcdeminded, that is if you can read at all, because if you can stoop enough to sift through the midden, you can interpret the Wake. Just as an archaeologist begins the dig with a vague idea of what might be found, layers of soil deliver up a greater insight into the past. 
Here, the dump unearths a hatch, a celt and an earshore (HCE), “when Head-in-Clouds walked the earth.”

This is the story of mankind with its layers of history waiting to be revealed. And history repeats itself "aloss andagain."

There is reference here (in "Tieckle") to writing that appeared on a wall at Belshazzar’s feast. It was obscure enough to confuse the wise men of his kingdom but was interpreted by the young Hebrew, Daniel. The writing, "MENE, MENE, TEKEL, UPHARSIN" predicted the death of Belshazzar because of his defilement of the sacred temple goods, and it told how his kingdom would be given to the Medes and Persians.

This illustration is the first of two for this section of the book. I have created a midden which is quite barren on the surface where only HCE and ALP lie buried face to face. More will be revealed in the following one although there may be more questions than answers.

Note the "Upwap and dump em" that appears in the last line on this page. This is one of the linguistic echoes that you'll hear throughout the Wake. We've seen it, for example, on page 10, when the janitrix, showing us around the museyroom, introduced us to one of the characters of the battle: "This the seeboy, madrashattaras, upjump and pumpim, cry to the Willingdone:
Ap Pukkaru! Pukka Yurap!" The phrase echoes Wellington's cry of "Up guards and at 'em," with which he ordered the last charge at the Battle of Waterloo, and here the political and the domestic fuse as it echoes the wrapping up and dumping into the midden of history the scraps of the past.

Page 17 Joyce and Beckett

" Mearmerge two races, swete and brack. Morthering rue. Hither, craching eastuards, they are in surgence: hence, cool at ebb, they requiesce. Countlessness of livestories have netherfallen by this plage, flick as flowflakes, litters from aloft, like a waast wizzard all of whirlworlds. Now are all tombed to the mound, isges to isges, erde from erde. Pride, O pride, thy prize!"

A common theme in Finnegans Wake is of an older man being replaced (or usurped) by a younger. We see this not only in HCE's anxieties in the text, but also in Joyce's concerns for his own place in literary history, and the ways in which he represents Yeats as a literary giant of the past, and Beckett as the giant of the future.

On page 17, we start to see Mutt and Jute merge into each other more, as Jute begins to stammer and Mutt's language becomes more and more accented.

This illustration is based on a 1610 map of Dublin by John Speed which shows Trinity College, Dublin Castle, a selection of churches, and the Father Matthew Bridge. My landmarks may look a little less Hibernian.

Joyce and Beckett, who met in France, are depicted here as geese, echoing the flight of the Wild Geese for France in 1691. Both of our literary exiles left Ireland to pursue creative freedom, but they brought the city of Dublin with them wherever they went.

As you read through this page, see if you can pinpoint the moments in which Mutt and Jute seem to blend into each other.

Page 16

"Come on, fool porterfull, hosiered
women blown monk sewer? Scuse us, chorley guy! You toller-
day donsk? N. You tolkatiff scowegian? Nn. You spigotty an-
glease? Nnn. You phonio saxo? Nnnn. Clear all so! 'Tis a Jute.
Let us swop hats and excheck a few strong verbs weak oach ea-
ther yapyazzard abast the blooty creeks."

I had a lot of fun with this section, as the dialogue has echoes of the kind of slapstick comedy that we see in early cinema. The interactions between Mutt and Jute also remind us of the early twentieth-century comic strip, Mutt and Jeff, published first in the San Francisco Chronicle. This passage also echoes Samuel Beckett's (later) absurdist Waiting for Godot (another circular text), in which Vladimir and Estragon are practically indistinguishable and utterly inseparable from each other. Vladimir and Estragon's hat-swapping scene is likely influenced by the use of that trope in early cinema: Laurel and Hardy's "Do Detectives Think?" (1927), and the Marx Bros'"Duck Soup" (1933) both feature hat-swapping scenes.

Joyce was instrumental in setting up the first Irish picture house, the Volta, in Dublin in 1910, at the time that he was writing Finnegans Wake. But unfortunately, the films that were shown were in Italian and other foreign languages without subtitles and didn’t appeal to an Irish audience. He might have done better with the popular American comedies and romances that were available at the time.

The Samuel Beckett and James Joyce bridges, designed by the architect Santiago Calatrava sit above the Liffey in view of each other. In this illustration the two bridges merge, while in the water the reflection of Vladimir and Estragon or maybe Beckett and Joyce continue their dialogue as they “swop hats and excheck a few strong verbs weak oach eather yap

Page 14 Men like to ants

"Four things therefore, saith our herodotary Mammon Lujius 
in his grand old historiorum, wrote near Boriorum, bluest book
in baile's annals, f. t. in Dyffinarsky ne'er sall fail til heathersmoke
and cloudweed Eire's ile sall pall. And here now they are, the fear of um. T. Totities! Unum. (Adar.) A bulbenboss surmounted upon an alderman. Ay, ay! Duum. (Nizam.) A shoe on a puir old wobban. Ah, ho! Triom. (Tamuz.) An auburn mayde, o'brine a'bride, to be desarted. Adear, adear! Quodlibus."

To understand page 14, we need to read back over the second half of page 13, where we are introduced to the historian (or rather, four of them) “Mammon Lujius” (who later becomes Mamalujo: Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, the four evangelists, blended with the four historians of The Annals of the Four Masters). The word “Boriorum” refers to Boreum, which is the county of Donegal on Ptolemy’s map of Ireland, the place where the Annals were written. The four old men have conflated the history of Ireland with the Jewish calendar.

1132 A.D. Men like to ants or emmets wondern upon a groot 
hwide Whallfisk which lay in a Runnel. Blubby wares upat Ub-
566 A.D. On Baalfire's night of this year after deluge a crone that hadde a wickered Kish for to hale dead turves from the bog look-it under the blay of her Kish as she ran for to sothisfeige her cowrieosity and be me sawl but she found hersell sackvulle of swart goody quickenshoon and small illigant brogues, so rich in sweat.
Blurry works at Hurdlesford.

This illustration represents a midden where elements of historical significance are found. Conflicts and battles, central to the Wake, are represented by men like ants fighting on one layer of the midden. They are inspired by Louis le Brocquy’s figures from the illustrations of The Tain. The number 1132 recurs throughout the novel, with 11 signifying rising, and 32 signifying falling. HCE is represented by the Boa Island sculpture while his wife, a hag or crone, stands guarding her twin sons in a “wickered kish” while Issy cradles her doll.

What do you think Joyce has to say about the recording of history in this passage and in what you've read so far?


Page 13 “So This Is Dyoublong?

“So This Is Dyoublong?
Hush! Caution! Echoland!
How charmingly exquisite! It reminds you of the outwashed engravure that we used to be blurring on the blotchwall of his innkempt house. Used they? (I am sure that tiring chabelshoveller with the mujikal chocolat box, Miry Mitchel, is listening) I say, the remains of the outworn gravemure where used to be blurried the Ptollmens of the Incabus. Used we? (He is only pretendant to be stugging at the jubalee harp from a second existed lishener, Fiery Farrelly.) It is well known. Lokk for himself and see the old butte new. Dbln. W. K. O. O. Hear? By the mausolime wall. Fimfim fimfim. With a grand funferall. Fumfum fumfum.”

Historic ordinance survey maps provided the background for this illustration, and they were to shape many subsequent works. This version was based on the 1888-1913 OSI map, but missing from it are the place names and the river. The only points of reference are the Phoenix Park on the northside and the Inchicore Railway Works on the southside. By removing its most identifying features, I intend to both defamiliarise and generalise the location. After all, do we need to have all the map references to know if we belong? By removing the place names, too, I have stripped back layers of history from the map, and we move one step closer to the landscape where our ancestors walk.

Beneath the landscape, I have depicted layers of vegetation to represent remnants of the lives of previous inhabitants and the way in these lives become part of the ground on which we stand and the plant life that grows around us.

Page 13 describes a "grand funferall," so in the theme of fun and games at the Wake, we have a challenge for you. In the area of the map that indicates the location of the Phoenix Park—where the feet of Fionn Mac Cumhaill are buried—are symbols from ancient Irish burial sites, dating as far back as Neolithic times. Can you identify them?

Page 12 Though the length of the land lies under liquidation(floote!)

When looking back over these earliest illustrations, I am struck by how soft and muted the colours are compared to the ones that I am working on at the moment. I think that the colours reflect my earlier tentative approach to the book and how daunted I was in undertaking this project in the beginning. I was so overwhelmed at one point, that I divided my copy of Finnegans Wake into three sections and put two of them out of sight. I put a new cover on the first section and carried it around with me wherever I went. When I travelled to Italy in the summer, I always packed my book, art materials and the A3 hardback sketchbook that I was working in first, and then added my clothing, etc., into the space left in my cabin bag. I travelled light, and could survive for up to three weeks with what I brought. I chose clothing by weight and ability to roll into the tiniest of spaces because my art materials were my priority.

My favourite part of page 12 is the following passage:

Though the length of the land lies under liquidation(floote!) and there's nare a hairbrow nor an eyebush on this glaubrous phace of Herrschuft Whatarwelter she'll loan a vesta and hire some peat and sarch the shores her cockles to heat and she'll do all a turfwoman can to piff the business on. Paff. To puff the blaziness on. Poffpoff. And even if Humpty shell fall frumpty times as awkward again in the beardsboosoloom of all our grand remonstrancers there'll be iggs for the brekkers come to mournhim, sunny side up with care.

The little hen is minding her eggs as the flood approaches and threatens them. The three eggs symbolise Issy and the twins, Shem and Shaun. In the background the Magazine Fort in the Phoenix Park looms above them. The fort, which still stands today was built on the site of a previous star fort known as Wharton’s Folly. Joyce alludes to Jonathan Swift’s Epigram on an Irish Magazine, in which he rebuked Sir Tomas Wharton, Lord Lieutenant of Ireland, for building a fort to defend a land that had been picked dry. Belinda the hen is picking through the midden, but what is left to pick?

BEHOLD! a proof of Irish sense;
Here Irish wit is seen!
When nothing's left, that's worth defence,
We build a magazine.

For this week's challenge, we want you to focus on just one sentence. Here it is: "And even if Humpty shell fall frumpty times as awkward again in the beardsboosoloom of all our grand remonstrancers there'll be iggs for the brekkers come to mourn- him, sunny side up with care." Tell us what you make of it as a self-contained sentence, in the context of the rest of the page, or in terms of all you've read so far. Remember, there are no right answers: we just want to hear your thoughts (and if you've got things to say about anything else on this page, please let us know that too!)

Page 11: Sosie Sesthers

The sentence that links pages 10 and 11 introduces us to the three soldiers and two girls in the form of the pair of pigeons and three crows. With a flapping and cackling sound, they leave the scene, and we are left alone with another little bird. She, like the Egyptian goddess, Isis, who took the form of a bird as she collected fragments of her dead husband Osiris, gathers relics. There are numerous mentions of Osiris throughout the book. I have discovered so much about Egyptology and the Book of the Dead through my research for the artwork. As we move through the chapters the stories derived from Egyptian mythology will unfold.

In keeping with the Egyptian theme, in the painting Sosie Sesthers, below, the two girls and the three soldiers spying on them are based on hieroglyphs. I loved the fact that the symbols for “woman” is a squatting figure—appropriate here, as the two girls are being spied on while they are relieving themselves. 
Dig through the relics of the passage to see if you can uncover what relics the peacefugle is collecting in her nabsack: to what domains do these objects belong. What do you think the “With Kiss. Kiss Criss. Cross Criss. Kiss Cross. Undo lives’ end. Slain” refers? And wht do you think of the representation of the bird /ALP as someone who steals “our historic presents from the past postpropheticals”? What does that indicate about the nature of history, as well as about the temporal orientation of the Wake? How do you read the rest of this page in the context of your answers?

Page 10, The Gnarlybird

Now that she has finished narrating the battle Kate, leads us out from the exhibition with "This way the museyroom. Mind your boots goan out.” As we have said before, this is symbolic of death, as we are carried on our final journey feet first. We leave Kate, the museum guide, behind and arrive outside to where the “gnarlybird” is running about on the battle field among the corpses. Kate and the bird are inextricably linked throughout the book. Kate, the cleaner knows the secrets of HCE’s family, while the bird, often in the form of a hen, scratches about unearthing letters that expose his misdemeanours. Both are also representations of Anna Livia.

In this illustration, the gnarlybird, as both hen and egg, scratches about and uncovers some of the text of page 10 of the Wake itself. The concept appealed to me as it echoed my own experience of reading and understanding the masterpiece. I love that image of the hen scratching, picking, and finding little bits of treasure. If you have ever observed these birds, they don’t look down at what they are scratching, they look about them as they scuffle the earth with their feet. Their gaze is set on the world about them until they know that they have uncovered something. I see myself like the scratching hen excavating the Wake, uncovering bits and pieces as I go. But I cannot truly enjoy it unless I lift my head out of it and look at the world that Joyce comments on. One of the great joys of Finnegans Wake is that it’s a portal into so many other sources of information.

Notice the shift in language as we move from the historic to the domestic. The domestic is often one of gentle contrasts: "", "High Downadown." These contrasts--and the apparent separation of the domestic from the historic (as we have learned from reading the Wake so far), is merely an illusion: then and now and will be; myth and history and individual experience--these things are inextricable in the world of the Wake.

Page 9 The Battle of Waterloo

Kate leads us through the Museyroom while giving an account of the Battle of Waterloo. She tells us of the conflict between Lipoleum (Napoleon, who sounds like a floor covering) and Willingdone (the Duke of Wellington). Did he walk over the French General in his gumboots? Nathan Halper, the eminent Joyce scholar seems to think so.

The text in this section has elements of other battles, such as the battles of the Boyne, Hastings, Crimea, Salamanca, to name but a few. But the battle echoes the conflict in HCE’s own family, including the strife between his twin sons, Shem and Shaun.

The Battle of Waterloo was fought between the British and Prussians on one side and the French on the other. I chose the images of the two guns, the “Prooshious” (the Prussian gun on the right) and the “ffrinch” (the French on the left), to symbolise the conflict.

On the left the Wellington Monument, with its powerful phallic symbol represents the British under Arthur Wellesley, the first Duke of Wellington, Napoleon’s arch enemy. Like Shem and Shaun, these two generals were born on the exact same day: Wellesley to a privileged family and Napoleon to poverty. Both rose through the ranks of their respected armies through ruthless ingenuity. On the right the Prussian coat of arms rises, much like the phoenix (for the Prussians had been defeated by Napoleon two days earlier). I couldn’t resist painting it in Prussian blue, a colour that takes it name from the uniform of the Prussian army.

Some of my most useful resources for Finnegans Wake research are current and historic maps, which I often include in the illustrations. I trawled through a collection of maps of Waterloo to understand the battle, while reading Simon Scarrow’s Napoleon and Wellington quartet. The image in the centre of this illustration, shows the direction that the various forces took to the final battle which is now marked with the Butte du Lion--a monument which stands on a manmade hill, constructed of earth from many parts of the battlefield. It is said that the enormous 31-ton Lion was made in part from the brass that was left behind by the French on the battlefield.


Page 8. The Museyroom

“Hence when the clouds roll by, jamey, a proudseye view is enjoyable of our mounding's mass, now Wallinstone national museum, with, in some greenish distance, the charmful waterloose country and the two quitewhite villagettes who hear show of themselves so gigglesomes minxt the follyages, the prettilees! Penetrators are permitted into the museomound free. “
When we were children, Dad would take us to the Phoenix Park on Sundays and we would climb the sloping "steps” of the Wellington Monument. For a long time, I was convinced that the obelisk had a secret door, and that if I could only reach the next level I would find it. Imagine my delight when I first read this part of the Wake.

Maybe I should mention, here how I find my illustrations (or how they find me). Often when I read a passage, I see images that don’t always relate to the whole passage but rather to a sentence or phrase. I must resist the urge to paint those images as they ar and, instead, I compel myself to dig a little or a lot more. Many times, I have found myself chuckling at the absurdity of the pictures that come into my mind. I try to incorporate the humour into the work, in keeping with the spirit of the text. 
This part of the book can be interpreted as the nine months of gestation (see the nine “tips”) and the phallic symbol of the Wellington memorial is in keeping with that. The admonition to mind our hats going in and our boots going out refer to coming into the world and leaving it.

Page 7 " Our maggy seen all, with her sisterin shawl."

Finnegan's fall echoes man’s original sin and his redemption. It happened on the exact spot where HCE had an encounter with the two peeing girls and the three soldiers in the Phoenix Park ("where our maggy seen all, with her sisterin shawl.") It is also the site of a museum dedicated to the memory of the Duke of Wellington, another representation of HCE. The following three pages will take us inside the museum, where we will encounter artefacts from the Battle of Waterloo.

This oil painting depicts the two girls being spied upon by the three soldiers in the park. The Egyptian hieroglyphs for "woman" and "soldier" echo the references to the Book of the Dead that occur throughout Finnegans Wake. In the background, symbols of our Irish ancestors--in the form of the carvings on kerbstone 52 at the passage tomb Newgrange--appear out of the mist, together with the Eye of Horus. The two ancient civilisations created markings on their respective burial tombs in the same era.

Since the beginning of time, man has been preoccupied with death and regeneration. Some incredibly powerful images are found in the artefacts connected with these themes. Keep an eye out for different kinds of death and regeneration as you progress through the wake.

Page 6

“ Shize? I should shee! Macool, Macool, orra whyi deed ye diie? of a trying thirstay mournin?” Finnegan is laid out to be waked, surrounded by the twelve mourners, following his fall from the ladder. I chose the image of the skeleton in a Bronze Age cist grave, as it was the earliest form of burial in Ireland. Before this Neolithic and Mesolithic communities cremated their dead. In the Bronze Age the remains were often buried in a foetal position with funery pots filled with food or drink to sustain them on their journey to the afterlife. 
When I first read this page, I imagined Finnegan in his cist grave, with a a bockalips of finisky fore his feet" and "a barrowload of guenesis hoer his head.” In later versions of this illustration the skeleton and his grave goods are partially excavated revealing a barrel of Guinness at his skull and a copper whiskey still at his feet. On page four we were introduced to one of HCE’s bynames, Finn Mccool, the giant whose head is buried in Howth. In this illustration our Finn or Finnegan has the Howth peninsula for his pillow.

Page 5: Finnegan's topple

In this image I introduce two of my recurring motifs, our hero in the form of one of the little fellows from the Moone High Cross and the ladder from which he falls. I have borrowed the primitive figures from the 10th-century granite cross because of their timeless simplicity. On the east face of the cross, twelve little men standing in three groups of four men represent the twelve apostles. Joyce has twelve mourners, gossips, pub customers, and jurors making appearances throughout Finnegans Wake, and we'll meet them on the next page as "all the hoolivans of the nation".

Here, we are introduced to Finnegan as a master builder whose confidence, fuelled by alcohol, encourages him to build towers and skyscrapers not unlike the Tower of Babel. But just like Adam and Cain and Easu, who thought themselves invincible, he was bound to fall. Would he have fallen if he hadn't to rise? And would he have risen had he not fallen?


Masterbuilder: Page 4

 Ilove the opening lines of this page: "What clashes here of wills gen wonts, oystrygods gaggin fishygods! Brékkek Kékkek Kékkek Kékkek! Kóax Kóax Kóax! Ualu Ualu Ualu! Quaouauh!" They evoke the sounds of primitive battles of early warriors whose cries echo throughout history in the following lines. They also recreate the sounds of gulls and fish gathering at the mouth of the river. Our early ancestors left the dregs of their existence in middens or dumps, often by rivers and the sea, only to be excavated or scratched by the gulls looking for tidbits, and this theme of excavation will run throughout the book.

The harsh sound of the call "Brékkek Kékkek Kékkek!" is symbolised by the sharp dashes on the right of the illustration while the softer sounds come from the fishy form.

In this page, we're also introduced to poor Finnegan whose appetite for drink led to his demise for, while building his "skyerscrape of most eyeful hoyth entowerly" or another of equal proportions, he had a fatal fall. What a wonderful image that building is: something like the Eiffel Tower and Bailey’s lighthouse in Howth. By the way, did you know that another iteration of Finnegan, Finn McCool was so big a giant that his head is buried in Howth and his feet in the Phoenix Park? There's an illustration for that coming up soon!

Finnegans Wake introduction: Page 3

Page 3, the first page of Finnegans Wake, is my favourite as this is the one that Frances read from when she introduced me to the book. I created many experimental pieces around this first work before I began the illustrations. The imagery of the River Liffey passing by Adam and Eve's church close to the James Joyce bridge ("Taco Bridge" as Dubliners lovingly call it) and going out to sea at the Alexander Basin is timeless. That same river flowed at the time of my parents, grandparents, and all who went before and it is witness to the story of Dublin. I wanted to capture something of that in this and subsequent pieces, so, many of these illustrations will have echoes of the rippling river.

“The fall (bababadalgharaghtakamminarronnkonnbronntonnerronntuonnthunntrovarrhounawnskawntoohoohoordenenthurnuk!)” is a mighty thunderous sound not unlike, in my imagination anyhow, the slamming of the print on the page of a book. So, I photocopied the thunderword and enlarged it repeatedly to see what happened, and just as I had imagined the printed letters left splatters of ink too small to be seen by the naked eye. Like the sound of thunder, I began with copies of the largest and loudest letters and let them decrease until the letters became like themselves again.

One of my favourite images is at the end of the page “at the knock out in the park where oranges have been laid to rust upon the green since devlinsfirst loved livvy”. I know that this sentence signifies the strife between Catholicism and Protestantism, but it is has for me become a motif for the work. I have used an orange to symbolise the cyclical nature of man of history of time and I find that the motif morphs into other forms later. In this illustration I used a halved orange to print in onto the paper in watercolour overworking one print to create the image of the “regginbrow” which is also the James Joyce Bridge.


My story

I’m a practicing artist in the midlands of Ireland and I’ve been teaching art at all levels for more years than I care to remember. My earlier work could be described as figurative and I derived real pleasure from creating lifelike portraits and landscapes. While this provided me with a body of work for group and solo exhibitions I wasn’t really challenged. Like all artists I went through barren patches when it was difficult to be motivated to even take up a brush.

I was introduced to Finnegans Wake as a child by my mother, who showed me a hardback copy (along with a copy of Ulysses); she told me that it was a very secret book that dad had smuggled in from England because the priests didn't want us reading Joyce. There was a popular belief that Ulysses and Finnegans Wake were banned because they weren't printed in Ireland. I was amazed that we had such books in our house and I was sworn to secrecy about them. The funny thing was that I too was told that I wasn’t allowed to read them but unlike my sister, Frances, I accepted it. That’s what its like being the oldest child, you just do as you’re told. So, it wasn’t until the new millennium that I discovered the Wake, and who do you think was the cause of my disobedience? Frances (you’ll read her story below)! The little rascal began to read from a huge paperback book with no other introduction than “wait ‘til you hear this, Carol.” And so, it began, my introduction to the text of Finnegans Wake. I laughed so much at her reading that first page that I was hooked.

I remember thinking at the time that I knew that language—not what it all meant, but I recognised it from my childhood. I was transported back to a particular evening in my grandmother’s when I was about five or six and I was fed up listening to the adults sitting around the fire talking about things that were of no interest to me, so I went into the kitchen and sat on the floor behind the door. I remember looking at the worn paintwork of the skirting board and hearing the voices coming and going, making sense now and again. It was like hearing conversations when you are drifting in and out of sleep. When I took to reading Finnegans Wake for myself those voices became the narrator of the book. For twelve years I have been creating artworks in response to the text. I feel like the hen, Belinda of the Dorans, scratching about in a midden, unearthing little gems that give context or meaning to parts of Joyce’s masterpiece, and, like a hen, I cannot excavate the whole dump but I can certainly find treasure.

When I first read Finnegans Wake in 2005, I was unaware of the effect that this book would have on my creativity. I immersed myself in reading it for about two years and enjoyed it as I would an Italian opera: not understanding much but loving it all. The more that I read it the more my head was filled with imagery and I responded in sketches and experimental artwork. This continued for another few years with some of the pieces making their way into realised watercolour and oil paintings. 
I think that it was about four years ago that I decided to illustrate the Wake from cover to cover. I know, it was a daft idea and even I’m surprised that I’m still going. I bought an A3 hardback sketchbook and started straight into it without any preparatory work other than research from a few reliable sources. To make the task of illustrating over 600 pages seem less daunting, I cut my Finnegans Wake paperback into three sections and put the second and third sections out of sight. And so, it began. At present I’m halfway through Joyce’s masterpiece and on my sixth hardback sketchbook with over six hundred illustrations.

I love the Wake with a passion. I love the way that Joyce has interwoven history, mythology, religion, and more into its pages. Finnegans Wake has afforded me with enough material to work on for the rest of my life.