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172 years since the death of the Last of the Gleemen

A Memoir of the Great Original Zozimus by Gulielmus Dubliniensis Humoriensis. Credit: Sian Long

“Ye sons and daughters of Erin,

Gather round poor Zozimus, yer friend;

This month, marks 172 years since the death of Michael J Moran, a local Liberties poet known for his talent for rhyming and witty lines.

Born to a poor family on Faddle Alley off Blackpitts in the Liberties, 1794, Michael J Moran became blind a few weeks after his birth. His parents, who struggled in abject poverty sent a young Michael out onto the streets to rhyme. By the time the poet reached adulthood he was well known in Dublin City for his unique poetry and talent for recalling them.

“Ye sons and daughters of Erin, gather round poor Zozimus, yer friend; listen boys, until yez hear my charming song so dear.” Zozimus would shout, from street corners in Smithfield to Grafton Street.

Michael J Moran assumed the street name of Zozimus after reciting the poem by Anthony Coyle, ‘Saint Mary of Egypt’ which was so frequently requested. The poem recounts the conversation between the ‘pious Zozimus’ and Mary of Egypt. It was because of this poem, Moran is still known as Zozimus today.

Today Zozimus continues to inspire, having had much of his poetry published, much of his work can be found in the National Music Archive.

Around about the Liberties his legacy lives on, with two local businesses placing his name proudly above their shop door. David McCovney, general manager at Zozimus Bar on Annes Lane, Dublin 2 tells me that they wanted to incorporate Zozimus’ legendary status into their brand. “His story is interesting and being able to be so well versed without the ability to see and therefore relying heavily on his memory is a moving story about artistic struggle in a tough city.” Says David.

A second business, Zozimus Gallery on Francis Street Dublin 8 has taken on the name of Zozimus. “We were looking for a connection in the area, for the name, and Zozi came up in book on Dublin and because he lived in the area and everything else, we thought it would be a good idea . . . to keep his name alive,” says Vincent Kelly, Director at Zozimus Gallery.

172 years on, “poor Zozimus, yer friend” is still celebrated for his unusual rhymes, poems and songs and lives on in the hearts of Dubliners.

 

The film review for this edition of the Liberty is Steve Spielberg’s new action packed adventure Ready Player One

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