The Life and Times of
By Golgotha Press
© 2011 by Golgotha Press, Inc.
Published at SmashWords
James Joyce the author was born in Ireland in 1882, into a country that less than a generation removed from the Great Hunger of 1845-1852. Within a brief span of time, the country had lost over 20% of its population from starvation, disease, and emigration. Ireland was not the only European country to deal with the failure of its potato crop in the mid 19th century. Because Ireland was almost entirely dependent on one crop, the overwhelming loss of it over a period of seven years caused devastating loss.
James Joyce’s father John was born in 1849, during the famine but his mother, Mary Jane Murray, was not born until well after the famine was over. Both of his parents came from middle-class families, and were untypical of the majority of Irish, many of who lived in dire poverty. The middle-class and the upper class of the country lived as well as they could, with little concern for those below them, and continued a way of life that was the norm all over the Western world. The majority of those who belonged to the lower-class were Roman Catholic and at the opposite end of the economic scale, the Protestant land owners dominated. In between there was a mixture of both Catholic and non-Catholic – the famine had reduced the numbers of Catholics by a few percentage points, but by the time of James Joyce’s birth, at least three out of four Irish residents were Roman Catholic.