A raindrop spat on his hat. He drew back and saw an instant of shower spray dots over the grey flags. Apart. Curious. Like through a colander. I thought it would. My boots were creaking I remember now.
—The weather is changing, he said quietly.
—A pity it did not keep up fine, Martin Cunningham said.
—Wanted for the country, Mr Power said. There’s the sun again coming out.
Mr Dedalus, peering through his glasses towards the veiled sun, hurled a mute curse at the sky.
—It’s as uncertain as a child’s bottom, he said.
—We’re off again.
The carriage turned again its stiff wheels and their trunks swayed gently. Martin Cunningham twirled more quickly the peak of his beard.
—Tom Kernan was immense last night, he said. And Paddy Leonard taking him off to his face.
—O, draw him out, Martin, Mr Power said eagerly. Wait till you hear him, Simon, on Ben Dollard’s singing of The Croppy Boy.
—Immense, Martin Cunningham said pompously. His singing of that simple ballad, Martin, is the most trenchant rendering I ever heard in the whole course of my experience.
—Trenchant, Mr Power said laughing. He’s dead nuts on that. And the retrospective arrangement.
—Did you read Dan Dawson’s speech? Martin Cunningham asked.
—I did not then, Mr Dedalus said. Where is it?
—In the paper this morning.
Mr Bloom took the paper from his inside pocket. That book I must change for her.
—No, no, Mr Dedalus said quickly. Later on please.
Tom Kernan was apparently a real person according to the Schmoop profile of his character ( source ) but in the novel is an agent for Polbrook & Robertson Co. which was an actual tea company. There’s a brief except about them in William Harrison Ukers’ book All About Tea 2 . The author gives the origin, address, and the many iterations of the name, but that was all I could find about it. ( source )
I had never heard the song “The Croppy Boy” but a quick youtube search yielded numerous versions. I thought it fitting that I should include one by the Dubliners.