Valentine Blake Dillon (1845 – 1904) was an Irish solicitor and politician.
Dillon worked as a Land League solicitor and defended Charles Stuart Parnell. In 1880, the Land War had intensified with agrarian disturbances and boycotts. Parnell along with thirteen others were arrested and charged for seditious conspiracy, the case later collapsed.
In 1891, after the death of the sitting member, Peter McDonald of the Irish Parliamentary Party, a by-election in North Sligo was held.
Dillon was put forward as the Parnellite candidate in the North Sligo by-election but lost out to the former Mayor of Sligo and Anti-Parnellite Bernard Collery. Collery owned Hardagons public house and grocers in Sligo.
In 1894, Dillon became Lord Mayor of Dublin and was later referenced in James Joyce’s Ulysses. According to the Joyce Project, the twice former Lord Mayor of Dublin is a brother of the character Mat Dillon. He is mentioned in the chapter Lestrygonians, Wandering Rocks, Nausicaa, and Circe. Also, in the Ithaca chapter, he is included in Bloom’s ‘series’ of men who have been interested in Molly. Val is remembered in Molly’s monologue in ‘Penelope’.
Bram Stoker referred to Dillon as a childhood friend and it is thought they were distantly related cousins through his mother Charlotte Blake Thornley. Dillon was a nephew of John Blake Dillon and cousin of John Dillon both Nationalist MPs. Stoker declared himself a ‘Home Ruler’ along with his brother Surgeon Thornley Stoker.
Valentine was the son of Thomas Dillon from Ballina, County Mayo and his mother was thought to be a Blake from Sligo. He married Margaret Phelan, daughter of Thomas Phelan, in 1872 in the church of St Columba, Ballybrack, Dublin.
Dillon passed away of a sudden illness in 1904 in Dublin
Further historical research is required on the life of Valentine and how his friendship with Bram Stoker developed.
Sources & Further Reading:
Bram Stoker Autobiography by Harry Ludlam
Bram Stoker and the Irishness of Dracula by Dennis McIntyre
Irish Democrat August/September 1996
Image source: National Portrait Gallery UK
Royal College of Surgeons Dublin History
The Joyce Project
The Parnell Society
The Peerage website
The Parnell Split: 1890 – 91 by Frank Callanan
Irish Newspaper Archives – Leinster Express