Silent Years: An Autobiography with Memoirs of James Joyce and Our Ireland

By J. F. Byrne | Go to book overview

CHAPTER FIVE
Congress v. House of Commons at Chess

IT WAS A strange assortment of humanity that frequented the D. B. C. in Dame Street; coming from so many walks of life, they were all attracted to one another by the same lodestone, chess. Easily the most colorful personage in the place was Porterfield Rynd, one of the ablest members of the Dublin bar--a man who, if he had been half as devoted to the drudgery of work as he was to the allurement of play, could easily have attained the highest honors in the judiciary. When I first met him he was about fifty-five years of age, and in top physical condition. He was of medium size, ruddy and powerfully strong and active. He had been champion skuller and rackets player; and he was a great chess player. He was fond of the piano and many an evening I heard him perform for hours while at the same time playing blindfold chess with some one of those present. I knew Rynd well and admired him.

Another striking figure in the group was the octogenarian Parker Dunscombe, a well-to-do land owner from Cork, with white hair and beard and pink jovial face in traditional Santa Claus style. This old man boasted of having kept a record of all the games he had played for a half century. Then there was Hobson, a great odds giver at chess and, after Rynd, the best player in the room. Another frequent visitor and ardent chess devotee was Monsignor Murphy of Maryborough. Two other habitués were John White and Daniel O'Connell Miley, both prominent Dublin solicitors.

Also there was a gentlemanly little wealthy Jew named Solomon, who for some reason or another, chose to confide in me toward the end of 1898 that he was worried about his South

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