Commemorative coin is “greatest insult to the Joyce family ever perpetrated by Ireland”

James Joyce commemorative coin

By pointing the finger at the entire country, it’s hard not to feel like we’re all to blame.

Stephen James Joyce, grandson of the writer and the man who held the keys to the entire Joyce canon until copyright expired two years ago, was quoted in the Irish Times weekend edition about the Central Bank coin debacle this week.

Joyce is seen by many as a controversial figure for the manner in which he governed the Joyce literary estate, although it’s perhaps a little unfair to criticise him for trying to shield his famous antecedent from all the worst elements of commercialism here, particularly given Joyce’s mixed relationship with his native country.

But possibly the most striking, and dispiriting, thing in the whole thing is the news that the whole lot of 10,000 coins had been sold out by Friday, two days after they were issued.

That’s 10,000 coins – containing an incorrect quotation, with a stated value of €10 and a retail price of €46 – gone at a rate of 200 an hour.

But I suppose we shouldn’t really be surprised when the trappings of culture become more important than culture itself.

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