Nora Barnacle was born March 25, 1885, in Galway, Ireland. She first met James Joyce in 1904 while working as a maid at Finn’s Hotel in Dublin. In October of that year she agreed to leave Ireland with him and they would remain virtually inseparable until Joyce’s death nearly four decades later. In July, 1905, their first child, George (Giorgio) was born, followed by Lucia in July, 1907. In August, 1908 she miscarried during a third pregnancy. She would have no other children.
During this period, contrasts with Joyce and his brother Stanislaus were frequent, and she often threatened to leave him. To help with the finances she also took in ironing and washing, but for the most part she remained at home. In 1912 she took Lucia to Galway to visit her relations. In 1912-13 she was apparently courted by Roberto Prezioso. After the move to Zurich their relationship seems to have changed as Joyce became totally absorbed in the composition of Ulysses. Nora and James Joyce finally married in London, in 1931. During the 30’s she became increasingly estranged from her daughter Lucia, pressing her husband for an institutional solution to her growing difficulties and after Joyce’s death in 1941 she would never see her daughter again. Nora Joyce died in Zurich on April 10, 1951.