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O’bituary Notice
In loving memory of Patrick James Finnegan

Beloved husband and devoted father Patrick James Finnegan, 45, of South Boston, departed this life last week on the sidewalk just down the street from Memorial Hospital. He died of multiple injuries sustained in a head-on collision with a lamp post. Fortunately no vehicles were involved, and owing to the lateness of the hour no one else was hurt in the tragic mishap.

Finnegan was born in County Tipsy, Ireland, and sailed to America on a dare at age 17. He has resided in South Boston ever since. Local bartenders and police officers describe him as a tirelessly outgoing lad who was always eager to make new friends, provided they were already running a tab. The echo of Finnegan’s hearty laugh and loud tenor voice were well known to neighbors whose windows open onto alleyways throughout the quarter.

Though never actually employed, Finnegan’s wife Morag says he went on constantly about his dream of one day opening and managing a successful distillery network. He was actively involved in market research for this business endeavor at the moment of his untimely death.

Besides his wife Morag, Mr. Finnengan is survived by four of his eleven brothers: Eenie, Meenie, Minie and Morris. Alas, none of the siblings has the benefit of a middle name, as the state of family finances back in County Tipsy kept such luxuries out of reach. He also left behind thirteen loving children, all of whom have had to share one middle name between them. Mrs. Finnegan asks that their names be withheld out of respect for their privacy.

Friends and relatives are invited to take part in Finnegan’s Wake. Owing to the impressively high alcohol content of his body, his general appearance and smell have remained very much the same as before the accident, so his earthly remains will be presented for one last public viewing. His widow asks that attendees kindly refrain from propping Paddy up against the bar, no matter how funny this notion might seem at the time.

The Story of Paddy Finnegan
Once upon a time, there was a man…

One morning Paddy was rather full;
His head felt heavy which made him shake
He fell off the ladder and broke his skull;
So they carried him home a corpse to wake

They wrapped him up in a nice clean sheet
And laid him out upon the bed,
With plenty of candles around his feet
And a couple of dozen around his head.
His friends assembled at the wake
And Missus Finnegan called for lunch.
First they laid out tea and cakes
Then pipes and tobacco and whiskey punch.

Then Bridget O’Brien began to cry,
“Such a lovely corpse did you ever see?
“Arrah! Paddy avourneen why did you die?”
“Ah, shut your gob!” said Biddy Magee.
Then Peggy O’Connor took up the job;
“Oh, Biddy”, says she, “You’re wrong I’m sure.”
But Biddy gave her a belt on the gob
And sent her sprawling on the floor!

The Novel

Finnegan’s Wake was Irish novelist James Joyce’s last and most complex work. Written in 1939 the novel is an attempt to embody in fiction a cyclical theory of history. The novel is written in the form of an interrupted series of dreams during one night in the life of the character Humphrey Chimpden Earwicker. Symbolizing all humanity, Earwicker, his family, and his acquaintances blend, as characters do in dreams, with one another and with various historical and mythical figures.

Joyce carried his linguistic experimentation to its furthest point in Finnegan’s Wake by writing English as a composite language based on combinations of parts of words from various languages.

The Song

Finnegan’s Wake pre-dates the James Joyce novel. While the song was obviously of some inspiration to James Joyce when he entitled his novel there is no apparent connection between the content of the two. It is commonly believed that the song Finnegan’s Wake was a street ballad created in Ireland sometime in the eighteen century. However, according to Hugh Kenner’s A Colder Eye: The Modern Irish Writers it is “a psuedo-Irish song, since [it] is not an Irish ballad at all but American-Irish – published in New York, 1864.”

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