Page 8 - The 16th Percy French Festival: Our Great Disconnect
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mostly at venues away from Dublin,
           a move which was probably prompted
           by disappoint ing sales in the capital.
           Reports in several news papers show that
           these concerts were well received by audi -
           ences, and it is possible that they helped to
           increase its circulation outside of the
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           capital.  The concerts also served as
           welcome topics for French to write about
           in The Jarvey, as he often struggled to f nd
           suf  cient ‘copy’ to f ll the news paper’s
           pages; indeed, French sometimes artfully
           used the theme of his writer’s block to f ll
           a few additional column inches.

           The most important selling point of
           The Jarvey was undoubtedly its contents.
           French revealed himself to be an incred -
           ibly talented and inven tive artist and hard-working editor when it came to f lling
           The Jarvey’s pages, with most of the numerous and varied limericks, comical f ction
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           and jokes, and some of the drawings, coming from his pen.  (Illus. 4) It is possible
           that he modelled The Jarvey on the most famous British comic publication of the
           period, Punch, and that he hoped to replace it with The Jarvey as the entertainment
           newspaper of choice of Irish ‘polite society’. This is suggested by a joke which was
           published in the news paper on 27th April 1889: ‘Why should  The Jarvey be apprec -
           iated by all teeto tallers?–Because it is endeavouring to drive away Punch from every
           Irish home’. French’s admiration for Punch is indicated by the fact that in September
           and October 1890 he considered changing his newspaper’s title to The Irish Punch,
           but abandoned the idea when most correspondents expressed themselves satis -
                                   15
           f ed with The Jarvey as the title.  Although French did not change the title of The
           Jarvey to The Irish Punch, nevertheless The Jarvey’s contents were very similar to
           those of the British comic newspaper. Robert Shail astutely writes about Punch that
           the target of many of its cartoons was ‘the foibles of polite Victorian society, from
           modes of dress and speech to domestic family life’. A similar point may be made
           that The Jarvey focused on ‘the foibles of polite Victorian [Irish] society, from modes
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           of dress and speech to domestic family life’.

           The Jarvey’s pages are replete with cartoons and drawings that are set in the draw -
           ing rooms, parlours and ballrooms of the Irish middle and upper classes. (Illus. 5)
           Other sketches have as their subject matter various outdoor social gatherings
           of polite society, such as fashionable lawn tennis meetings, dog shows, regattas
           and the Royal Dublin Society’s annual horse show. The conversations between
           atten dees at balls, ‘At Homes’ and other fashionable gatherings provided The Jarvey



     •6•                                       THE PERCY FRENCH FESTIVAL 2024
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