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Kernan was a real tea merchant in Dublin. In Joyce's work, he is a fictional agent for Pulbrook Robertson & Co. He appeared earlier in the short story "Grace" from Dubliners. Tom Kernan's major role in Ulysses is as a proponent of Ben Dollard's rendition of The Croppy Boy. In "Hades," the other men laugh at the superlatives that he uses to describe it. In "The Wandering Rocks," Kernan wanders place the place where Robert Emmet was executed and thinks of the song. In "Sirens" he encourages Dollard to sing it in the bar of the Ormond Hotel and everyone becomes very sentimental.