As Ireland celebrates Bloomsday, Flatley has emerged as the owner of the celebrated bronze medal.
The multi-millionaire paid almost $20,000 for the medal at an auction in London a decade ago.
He paid almost five times its pre-auction estimate at Sotheby’s auction house.
The Irish Times reports that the medal was made by Dublin jeweler Edmond Johnson. It is engraved on the reverse with the lettering ‘Tenor Solo James A. Joyce 1904.’
The report says Joyce was one of 22 singers who entered the singing competition at the Feis Ceoil on May 16, 1904.
He had taken preparatory lessons from Benedetto Palmieri, professor for the voice in the Dublin Academy of Music.
Joyce sang two set-pieces – "No Chastening," from Arthur Sullivan’s oratorio "The Prodigal Son", and "A Long Farewell," an Irish air arranged by Scottish composer Alfred Edward Moffat.
The paper adds that when he was asked to sing a third piece at sight, he left the stage in disgust as he was unable to read the piece.
Judge Luigi Denza, a professor at the London Academy of Music, had intended to give Joyce the gold medal according to the Irish Times.
However after Joyce’s refusal to sing the piece at sight, he awarded him the bronze.
The report adds that urban myth suggests Joyce later threw the medal into the river Liffey in a fit of pique.
But his biographer Richard Ellman claimed: “Since he could not pawn it he brought it home and disgustedly tossed it on his aunt Ms Murray’s lap, saying, ‘you can have it, Aunt Josephine. I have no use for it.’”
The medal was part of a collection of mementoes owned by his brother Stanislaus which turned up at Sotheby’s in 2004, the centenary year of Bloomsday.
"Lord of the Dance" star Flatley is a known collector of art and antiques and owns a first edition copy of Joyce’s "Ulysses."
Listen to a composition by the famous author:
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