'But you are not jeffmute?' Ireland's Image Abroad

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'But you are not jeffmute?' Ireland's Image Abroad In "Ireland at the Bar" James Joyce is concerned with the image of Ireland in the eyes of the Britain and the role of the English media in Imperialism. The essay recounts the details of the trial for murder of Myles Joyce, accused of killing John Joyce [not a relation of his], his wife, mother and children on the 17th of August 1882 in Maamtrasna in Connemara. Myles Joyce was one of four or five peasants, "all of them members of the ancient tribe of the Joyces", arrested for the murder of their neighbour. Myles was the eldest of them, at sixty years of age, and belonged to a generation of Irish people who only spoke Irish. The patriarch was tried in English, a language he didn’t understand, and "Myles Joyce was convicted after the jury met for six minutes." (Flood, 883) and hanged in December 1882 at Galway jail. Myles Joyce was given the services of an interpreter as Joyce describes. "On the one hand there was the officious interpreter, on the other the patriarch of the miserable tribe who, unused to civic customs, seemed quite bewildered by all the legal ceremonies."(145) The Magistrate instructed the interpreter to ask the accused if he saw the woman on the morning in question, "the old man broke out into intricate explanations, gesticulating, appealing to the other accused, to heaven. Then, exhausted by the effort, he fell silent."(145) The interpreter answered to the magistrate "He says no, your worship."(145) The interpreter does an injustice to Myles Joyce by rendering the passionate protestations of the accused into monosyllabic answers. For Joyce, however, the case of Myles Joyce represents a greater issue concerning Irish Identity. He points out: The figure of the bewildered old man, left over from a culture which is not ours, a deaf-mute before his judge, is a symbol of the Irish nation at the bar of public opinion. Like him, Ireland cannot appeal to the modern conscience of England or abroad. The English newspapers act as interpreters between Ireland and the English electorate. (146) After he had been executed, Myles Joyce was considered to have been wrongfully accused of the murders. In fact, his co-accused admitted their part and exonerated Myles of any wrongdoing. But respective governments in Britain who refused to ever have a proper enquiry into this miscarriage of justice overlooked this.

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