Jim Henry - A lifetime's odyssey

The Translation of Ulysses

Jim combined a love for his native language with a fascination with the work of James Joyce to produce Irish translations of Ulysses, A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man and The Dead. 

His early retirement meant he had the time to pursue this interest.

The Translation

Present Postion of Uilséas

Alan Titley on Uilséas

“The other great project worth dwelling on was the translation of James Joyce’s Ulysses into Irish by Breasal Uilsean and Séamas Ó hInnéirghe. This began more than ten years ago and has been published in installments. Some of it is stunningly beautiful in measuring itself against Joyce’s own magnificent prose, but there are also bizarrities which rather add to the work than detract from it. It does give a taste of what Irish might have been like if it had not slipped off the map of the urban world, and was allowed to wobble without the policemen of grammatical correctness. It is, in truth, one of the finer achievements of Irish prose, and, like De Brun’s Odaise and Comeide Dhiaga make the language a much better and stronger thing than it was by virtue of the wrestling with it.”

Turning Inside and Out: translating and Irish 1950 – 2000

For some time as professor of Irish at Cork University, Alan Titley had hoped that one of his students might have undertaken Uliséas as a subject for serious study but it never happened.

Then an Irish speaker came across the booklets of Uilséas in Maynooth library and became fascinated. This Gaeilgore is Eoin Ó Murchú who is a translator in the Dáil. He tried to find out about the translator, Séamas Ó hInnéirghe, but could find no trace till he mentioned it to Alan Titley. This man was able to point him in the right direction and Eoin Ó Murchú is now working on a PhD, editing and commenting on the translation.

By an odd coincidence, Ó Murchú qualified as a medical practitioner.

In October 2019, he selected extracts which were dramatised and performed in Newman House, Stephen’s Green as part of the Irish festival Imran.

A truncated version will be performed online as part of 2021 Bloomsday celebrations in association with Dublin City Libraries and IMRAM-Féile Litríochta Gaeilge. Tickets are free and can be obtained on the link below. The performance will start at 20.00 (BST-GMT+1) on June 16th and will last one hour.


2022 is the 100th anniversary year of the publication of Ulysses. For one celebration of this anniversary, several composers were commissioned to write a short piece. One of them, Ailis Ní Ríain used excerpts from Jim Henry’s recording of Episode 3 and  some home movie extracts to add to her original score. The result is a dramatic, thought provoking piece which has been presented in Dublin, Belfast, Paris and Budapest. This is now available on YouTube: Ulysses Journey 2022, ( “I will see if I can see”30 minutes in.)

poster for dramatised reading of extracts from Uilséas
Chapter 17 booklet
Henry family members and friends
Edmund and Phelim Henry and Eliza MacCafferty at Ulysses Journey 2022