An 1851 map of Liverpool by R.M. Martin and J. & F. Tallis. From the online David Rumsey Map Collection. (Browsable copy embedded below.)

Liverpool is referenced explicitly in one story and implicitly in another. In “A Boarding House,” it is the origin of “tourists” who float through Mrs. Mooney’s establishment:

“Mrs Mooney, who had taken what remained of her money out of the butcher business and set up a boarding house in Hardwicke Street, was a big imposing woman. Her house had a floating population made up of tourists from Liverpool and the Isle of Man and, occasionally, artistes from the music-halls. Its resident population was made up of clerks from the city. She governed her house cunningly and firmly, knew when to give credit, when to be stern and when to let things pass. All the resident young men spoke of her as The Madam.”

Along with the Isle of Man, a British crown dependency, Liverpool represents in a general sense the infiltration of Britain into Ireland and its economy, especially in the context of Mrs. Mooney’s business which relies as much on the Manx and English tourists as it does the Dublin clerks for its livelihood. Don Gifford notes these tourists represent an “extraordinarily rowdy citizenry” (Gifford 63) because of their origins, necessitating the stern and cunning qualities Mrs. Mooney projects.

But what is it exactly about Liverpool that would make these “tourists” so rowdy? The answer could lie in the implicit reference to Liverpool that hovers between the lines of “Eveline.” Frank is identified as a sailor who started as a deck boy on the Allan Line. As discussed in greater detail in the Canada essay, the Allan Line maintained several regular routes between Liverpool and Canada. It would be logical to assume that many of Liverpool’s young male population would have been employed by shipping lines like the Allan Line or many others that ported out of Liverpool. Frank may not still work for the Allan Line, which sailed regularly between Buenos Ayres, Liverpool, and Canada, but he almost certainly worked at one time out of Liverpool, the largest nearby port for trans-Atlantic voyaging.

Liverpool had been a thriving port city since the eighteenth century when it prospered as one of the leading centers of the slave trade. Despite slavery’s illegal status in England, Great Britain still capitalized on the barbarism of human abduction, trafficking, torture, and genocide, and this industry made Liverpool one of the most prosperous port cities in the world. In the nineteenth century it received many of Ireland’s famine refugees and because of its central position to many different shipping lines including lines to North America, China, and Australia, it became a wealthy and widely diverse city. The port city retains its problematized heritage. On one hand, areas of the city have been declared UNESCO world heritage sites, and on the other, Jessica Moody rightly asks “How does the criticism that there has been a ‘maritimising’ of the memory of slavery nationally, play out ‘locally’ somewhere like Liverpool, a place frequently defined by its maritime conections as a ‘seaport’ or ‘port city’ within historical discourse?” (151)

By the time Dubliners takes place, this heritage had been well entrenched, but the American Civil War and Emancipation Proclamation had all but ended one of the port city’s main industries. Still, with emigration and merchant shipping, Liverpool persisted as a British commercial hub and a lucrative base for sailors to find work. In fact, it is more likely that the “tourists” from Liverpool in “The Boarding House” are not native Liverpudlians at all but sailors whose travels place them in Liverpool in between voyages. It’s also possible these tourist-sailors aren’t able to find work, either because of the glut of able young men available for the job or because of some more nefarious reasons.

“[Sailors standing near the seafront in Kingstown],” photographed by J.J. Clarke between 1897 and 1904. From the National Library of Ireland’s digitized Clarke Photographic Collection.

The reputation of sailors at the turn of the twentieth century was complex. The song Frank sings to Eveline, “The Lass That Loves a Sailor” exemplifies some of the more romantic notions of sailorhood. It was written by Charles Dibdin who was commissioned to write maritime-themed songs to boost morale during the Anglo-French wars of the early nineteenth century. That Frank sings this song about sailing soldiers longing for love indicates he perceives himself as part of a romantic Ulyssean legacy of seafaring. But as Judith Fingard explains, by the end of the nineteenth century, such a sailor “belonged to a dying occupation.” Frank is not Odysseus. He is not even a soldier. He is a graduated deck boy sailing between Liverpool (by way of Dublin in his downtime) to North and South America. The hundred years between the song and his reality had greatly complicated the image of the sailor. Fingard traces some of the perceptions in Jack in Port: Sailortowns of Eastern Canada, where she describes the typical mid-nineteenth-century sailor as connoting a stereotype: “His legendary indiscipline, non-productive labour, and frequent foreignness mark him out, along with naval seamen, soldiers, and prostitutes, as a misfit who was there to be seen, but who need not be heard” (3). She adds that sailors were often associated with boarding houses, though they were encouraged by their employers to “act temperately and avoid boarding houses” (5). By the end of the century, she writes, sailors were often met with “disdain” by landsmen “for a proverbially bothersome presence in the streets, taverns, and institutions of health, order, and justice” (6). Such descriptions suggest it would even be likely that Frank, a seasoned if retired sailor by the time he returns to “the old country just for a holiday,” could have stayed at Mrs. Mooney’s when he was in town. After spending downtime in Liverpool and the surrounding areas so long, why wouldn’t these sailors, or “tourists,” like Frank, spend a little time in Dublin? Perhaps they could meet the kind of “lass that loves a sailor” so many seamen were looking for.

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Photo of Suffolk Street

“[Man with umbrella standing at the junction of Nassau Street, Grafton Street and Suffolk Street],” photographed by J.J. Clarke between 1897 and 1904. The photo shows the view from Trinity College at Nassau and Grafton Streets, facing west down Suffolk Street which recedes into the background. From the National Library of Ireland’s digitized Clarke Photographic Collection.

Suffolk Street, a short lane connecting St. Andrew’s and Grafton Streets, appears briefly in “Ivy Day in the Committee Room” as the reported meeting spot of three ambiguously identified conspirators. According to Mr. O’Connor, there is something shady going on between some of the political set he and the rest of the men in the story know:

“There’s some deal on in that quarter, said Mr O’Connor thoughtfully. I saw the three of them hard at it yesterday at Suffolk Street corner” (127).

“The three of them” could be  any combination of the several people the men have been discussing during their early evening fireside chat. One member of the trio is almost certainly Alderman Cowley, who has just been mentioned as the reason Henchy couldn’t get the attention of the “shoeboy” who is supposed to be bringing the men beer. The second could be this young “shoeboy” or, as Henchy calls him “hop ‘o my thumb,” a seventeen-year-old politico in the making who downs a whole bottle of stout between running errands for canvassers and city officials. And the third might be Father Keon, the strange priest who spends suspicious amounts of time in Kavanagh’s with political bargainers. As discussed in greater detail in the Kavanagh’s article, that particular locale was noted as a wineroom where under-the-table deals were made between existing and aspiring politicians, and the symbolic value of a priest meeting there with a politician echoes the inextricable (rather then ineluctable) relationship between religious and political modalities in Joyce’s Ireland.

Earth version of the Dubliners map showing Suffolk Street, just above Wicklow Street, connecting St. Andrew’s Church on the west and Grafton Street on the east.

A block north of the committee room, Suffolk Street, like Kavanagh’s, reflects this confluence of two pivotal sectors in turn-of-the-century Dublin. But whereas Joyce’s use of Kavanagh’s highlights the relationship of politics and religion, Suffolk Street, in the context of the story, represents a symbiosis of religion and commerce. Connecting St. Andrew’s Street, home of St. Andrew’s Church, on its northwest end, and Grafton Street, a thoroughfare known for its retail and financial institutions, on its southeast end, Suffolk Street is a geographic symbol of the economics of religion and the religion of economics. Considering the connotations of St. Andrew’s and Grafton Streets as religious and economic spaces, Suffolk Street becomes an illustration of the thread connecting those two principles. The three men “hard at it” at the corner of Suffolk Street (which corner?) personify those connections while the geospatial markers map the relationship of these factors that fuel the political campaigns and legacies of all the figures in the story, from the fictional Tierney to the real Parnell to the alluded to Dublin mayor to Edward Rex.

The Coast, Greystones, Co. Wicklow, photographed between 1900 and 1939. From the Eason Photographic Collection at the National Library of Ireland.

The southernmost of three favorite vacation spots for the Kearney family in “A Mother,” Greystones is situated about 17 miles (27 km) south of Dublin’s city center on the eastern coast of Ireland. It is a small fishing village that became a popular summer holiday retreat when the railroad connected the town to Dublin in 1855. Today it would take about an hour to travel to Greystones from Dublin by train. Accounting for number of stops and speed differences, we might estimate a similar if not longer travel time for the Kearneys at the turn of the the twentieth century. The locale is named for the grey stones that form a wall along the center of the coast. On the north end of the wall lies the harbour and on the south the train station and beach.

The reference appears in only one Dubliners story and as a part of a typical Joycean trinity:

“Every year in the month of July Mrs Kearney found occasion to say to some friend:

–My good man is packing us off to Skerries for a few weeks.

If it was not Skerries it was Howth or Greystones.” (137)

Like Skerries and Howth, Greystones suits the economic and Nationalist values of the Kearney family when it comes to vacationing. Unlike Gabriel and Gretta’s continental journeys to France or Germany or even Molly Ivors’s proudly domestic pilgrimages to the Aran Isles, the Kearneys’ yearly weeks-long retreat is always to an affordable destination not too far from home.

South Beach, Greystones, Co. Wicklow, photographed between 1865 and 1914 by Robert French. From the digitized Lawrence Photograph Collection at the National Library of Ireland.

The reference to these three places is situated within the context of a description of the family’s practicality, foresight, and educational values. Just before the vacation destinations are listed, we learn that Mr. Kearney is “sober, thrifty, and pious,” and that even though Mrs. Kearney “never put her own romantic ideas away,” she nevertheless “perceived that such a man would wear better than a romantic person” (137). Indeed, he is described as “a model father” partly because he invests money in his daughters’ education. But even though part of this education includes the French language, it seems that particular skill is intended more for reading than for the necessity of speaking the language on any potential visit to France. In a rather stream-of-consciousness style, in fact, the narrative shifts from mention of French to the list of Irish vacation destinations to the Irish Revival and the Kearneys’ decision to hire an Irish language teacher for their daughters.

But rather than the Irish vacation spots serving as characteristics of the family’s Nationalism, just like Kathleen’s name, they actually seem to be a circumstance on which the thrifty Kearneys capitalize in their adoption of Nationalist ideology. As a Nationalist, Mrs. Kearney would not need to defend her husband only taking her as far as a suburban fishing village for a holiday–she could “f[i]nd occasion to say” so. And Kathleen was not named with any Irish mythology in mind–“Mrs. Kearney took advantage of her daughter’s name” only once “the Irish Revival began to be appreciable” (137).

Mrs. Kearney’s fiscal defensiveness is not limited to standing up for her daughter’s economic rights when it comes to the concert. It works in far more complex psychological ways: finding opportunity in marriage and political movements as well as in her daughter’s musical education, and frugality in vacation choices. The Kearneys invest in themselves by educating their children just as they invest in their environment by supporting local recreational travel options.

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The location of Dan Burke’s Stephen’s Green location is seen at the bottom left of the photograph. Image from the National Library of Ireland’s digitized Lawrence Photograph Collection. Photo by Robert French, published 1865-1914.

Dan Burke’s is named in “A Painful Case” as Duffy’s go-to lunch spot in the city. Although he lives in Chapelizod, he works in the city center, at a bank in Baggot Street, and must therefore find sustenance near his office:

“He had been for many years cashier of a private bank in Baggot Street. Every morning he came in from Chapelizod by tram. At midday he went to Dan Burke’s and took his lunch—a bottle of lager beer and a small trayful of arrowroot biscuits. At four o’clock he was set free. He dined in an eating-house in George’s Street where he felt himself safe from the society of Dublin’s gilded youth and where there was a certain plain honesty in the bill of fare” (108-109).

Section of page from Thom’s 1892 Directory containing listings for “Burke, Daniel.”

According to Thom’s 1892 Directory (pictured above), Daniel Burke and Co., “grocers, tea, wine and spirit merchants,” had establishments at 50 Lower Baggot Street, as well as St. James Street East, 3 King’s Street South, Ballsbridge, 11 Sandycove Road, and 107 and 108 Stephen’s Green West. A previous directory published in 1883 (embedded below; see left column near top) also lists Daniel Burke as “grocer, tea, wine and spirit merchant” in several of the same locations. An established and expanding business with stores located around the city, Dan Burke’s would have been to Duffy a reliable establishment that appealed to his regard for consistency and order.

Duffy’s appreciation of Dan Burke’s consistency is echoed in his always ordering the same arrowroot biscuits (or cookies, for American readers) and bottle of lager. Arrowroot biscuits differ from the traditional kind in that they are made with the naturally gluten-free arrowroot instead of wheat flour. In fact, the 1920 entry in the Encyclopedia Americana describes arrowroot as “a fine-grained starch esteemed for making desserts and invalid foods.” The entry also explains that arrowroot was particularly popular in Victorian Great Britain as it was produced in British colonies. True to his sensitive character, Duffy seems drawn to a consistent and gentle diet, opting away from gluten and stout in favor of the gentler and lighter fare Dan Burke’s offers. That it’s located in the same street as his office makes it a convenient as well as efficient choice for a midday meal.

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Section of Letts, Son & Co. 1883 Map titled Plan of the City of Dublin. The yellow vertical line shows the road called both "Road to Glasnevin" and "Phibsborough Road."

Section of Letts, Son & Co. 1883 Map titled Plan of the City of Dublin. The yellow vertical line shows the road called both “Road to Glasnevin” and “Phibsborough Road.”

Perfectly fitting to the ambiguity of place and movement in the story, the reference to “the Glasnevin road” at the opening of “Grace” is as curiously nonspecific as it is ripe with possibilities: “The car halted before a small house on the Glasnevin road and Mr Kernan was helped into the house” (154).

Not itself the name of any particular Dublin street, notes Don Gifford, Glasnevin road is more a label for a typical series of roads that could lead through north Dublin to the neighborhood of Glasnevin, located roughly 3 kilometers north of the city center (Gifford 102). Though the reference is indeed vague, an 1883 Lett’s and Sons map shows a stretch of road at the corner of the page labelled “Road to Glasnevin.” Further south the street becomes Phibsborough Road. Whether the reference is to this specific street named vaguely or to a vague pathway not quite named, the ambiguity Joyce imbued into the location is thematically appropriate.

The place appears as the location of Tom Kernan’s house, and thus where the cab takes him after his drunken stumble down the stairs in an unnamed bar also somewhat vaguely located in or near Grafton Street. The non-specific home location is appropriate as a landing place for the temporarily inarticulate Kernan at the opening of the story. Having bitten his tongue in the drunken fall, he must rely on his friend, the aptly named Mr. Power, to convey his address to the cab driver. And though we know Power does this (“while Mr Power was giving directions to the carman”), we do not get to hear a particular address or even the general “directions” Power is communicating (153). When Power joins Kernan in the cab and asks him what exactly happened, Kernan can only respond with “I ‘an’t, ‘an,…‘y ‘ongue is hurt” (153). His inability to tell his own story is reflected in the vagueness of space that permeates “Grace.”

Glasnevin road also appears later in the story, in a misleadingly more specific context as the location of Mr. Fogarty’s store:

“Mr Fogarty was a modest grocer. He had failed in business in a licensed house in the city because his financial condition had constrained him to tie himself to second-class distillers and brewers. He had opened a small shop on Glasnevin Road where, he flattered himself, his manners would ingratiate him with the housewives of the district. He bore himself with a certain grace, complimented little children and spoke with a neat enunciation. He was not without culture” ().

The second reference to Gasnevin road is just as entwined as the first with the thematic context of the passage in which it appears. More than just an indication of place, the seemingly specific label gives Fogarty’s shop more permanence than it may actually warrant. We learn that Fogarty’s business practices are perhaps a bit lax as evidenced by his past failure and also his gift of whisky to Kernan despite the “small account for groceries unsettled between [Kernan] and Mr Fogarty” (166). It seems Fogarty is as irresponsibly generous as he is perhaps dangerously enabling of Kernan’s alleged drinking problem. Furthermore, that both men are located on the Glasnevin Road, however non-specific that road may be, indicates a destination toward something much more somber than failed business and a bitten tongue.

Glasnevin’s most iconic feature is perhaps its cemetery, the resting place of prominent political figures such as Daniel O’Connell, Charles Stewart Parnell, and many others interred there after the publication of Dubliners. It is also the resting place of Paddy Dignam and the setting for his funeral in Ulysses. Not surprisingly, among the attendees of the procession is none other than Mr. Tom Kernan.

Parnell's Grave at Glasnevin Cemetry. The tower in the background is the O'Connell Monument. Photo by Robert French, between 1891 and 1900. From the National Library of Ireland's digitized Lawrence Photograph Collection.

Parnell’s Grave at Glasnevin Cemetry. The tower in the background is the O’Connell Monument. Photo by Robert French, between 1891 and 1900. From the National Library of Ireland’s digitized Lawrence Photograph Collection.

The cemetery was opened in 1832 as an expansion to the nearby Golden Bridge Cemetery, which O’Connell himself had a significant hand in establishing as an alternative to more expensive graveyards that were financially inaccessible to many of the Nationalist figures of the nineteenth century. As Richard J. O’Duffy notes in his 1915 Historic Graves in Glasnevin Cemetery, “All the great movements, in one shape or another, that arose immediately before or after the year 1800, having as their goal the liberation or the good of Ireland–the Emancipation Movement, the Movement for Repeal, the ’48 Era, the Insurrection of ’67, the Home Rule Movement, and that identified with the name of Parnell–all are here represented in this great necropolis of Ireland, either in leaders or their adherents” (2-3).

It is rumored, but not definitively accepted, that Robert Emmet’s remains are at either Glasnevin or St. Michan’s. Incidentally, it is Tom Kernan, not Bloom, who ponders this rumour in Ulysses: “Let me see. Is he buried in saint Michan’s? Or no, there was a midnight burial in Glasnevin. Corpse brought in through a secret door in the wall. Dignam is there now. Went out in a puff. Well, well. Better turn down here. Make a detour” (10.769-72). Kernan is one of many attendees at Paddy Dignam’s funeral, which takes place at the cemetery in Glasnevin, and Bloom thinks momentarily about Mr. Fogarty just as the carriage passes a pub at the corner of Finglas Road and Prospect Terrace.

Screenshot of the "Hades" map on the Walking Ulysses project out of Boston College.

Screenshot of the “Hades” map on the Walking Ulysses project out of Boston College. Located at

The route to Glasnevin is clear and specific in Ulysses (e.g. Blessington Street, Berkeley Street, Phibsborough Road, Crossguns bridge, Finglas road). As the Walking Ulysses project proves, it is in fact clearly mappable (see above). But in “Grace,” Joyce’s purposefully ambiguous “Glasnevin road” is reflective of the ambiguity associated with the concept of grace itself. The word appears four times in the story. Its first two uses are associated with fashion; the third is in reference to Mr. Fogarty whose first business endeavor failed, whose shop is vaguely located in Glasnevin Road, and whose manners and charms “ingratiate him with housewives” and children; and the final “grace” appears in Father Purdon’s business-themed instructions to the church on how to balance their temptation checkbooks: Well, I have looked into my accounts. I find this wrong and this wrong. But, with God’s grace, I will rectify this and this. I will set right my accounts.” Again the vague “this and this,” like the broad generality of the Glasnevin Road, are deictic markers. They require a contextual anchor. Defining grace, like identifying an explicit sin or an explicit street, requires some interpretation.

Photograph of Phibsborough Road at Crossguns Bridge, published between 1900 and 1939. Using the route describes more explicitly in Ulysses and the 1883 map of Dublin, this is a possible vicinity of Kernan's residence in "the Glasnevin road."

Photograph of Phibsborough Road at Crossguns Bridge, published between 1900 and 1939, from the Eason Collection at the National Library of Ireland. Using the route described more explicitly in Ulysses and the 1883 map of Dublin, this is a possible vicinity of Kernan’s residence in “the Glasnevin road.”


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Capel Street in 1780, “from an old engraving.” From the National Library of Ireland’s digitized prints-and-drawings collections.

Capel Street, a typical yet rather non-exceptional shopping thoroughfare just a few blocks west of O’Connell Street in Dublin city center, appears in both “Two Gallants” and “A Little Cloud.” In both stories, it serves as an artery moving the focal characters from north to south as they walk through the city. For Lenahan in “Two Gallants,” Capel Street is one line amid a mostly destinationless perambulation, a trek that serves to pass the time while his friend Corley is engaged with his lover. And for Chandler in “A Little Cloud,” the street is one section of a mostly direct route from his office in Henrietta Street to Corless’s where he’ll meet his successful London-based friend Gallaher who is in town for a visit. For both men, Capel Street is the setting for a change of attitude.

Capel Street seems only a blip in the timeline of Lenehan’s wandering:

“He paid twopence halfpenny to the slatternly girl and went out of the shop to begin his wandering again. He went into Capel Street and walked along towards the City Hall. Then he turned into Dame Street” (58).

But it is part of a series of stretches and turns that accompany an important internal review for the thirty-year-old gallant. The lines just before the Capel Street reference show Lenehan eating a plate of peas at a pub (likely in Great Britain Street) while he considers his life, first hopelesslessy and then a little more optimistically:

“He would be thirty-one in November. Would he never get a good job? Would he never have a home of his own? He thought how pleasant it would be to have a warm fire to sit by and a good dinner to sit down to. He had walked the streets long enough with friends and with girls. He knew what those friends were worth: he knew the girls too. Experience had embittered his heart against the world. But all hope had not left him. He felt better after having eaten than he had felt before, less weary of his life, less vanquished in spirit. He might yet be able to settle down in some snug corner and live happily if he could only come across some good simple-minded girl with a little of the ready” (58).

The next glimpse we get into Lenehan’s mind is when he meets his firends at the corner of Dame and George’s Streets.But what occupies his mind for the 5 minutes the map indicates it would take him to traverse Capel Street and the additional 5 minutes it would have taken to cross Grattan Bridge, continue down Parliament Street, and then wander east along Dame street to the corner? Have the peas truly placated him, stopping all analysis and self-reflection? The exchange with his firends at the corner is described very matter-of-factly, listing the questions and answers without any embellishment of accompanying emotion besides that “[h]e was glad that he could rest from all his walking” (58). It would seem he’s also relieved to have a distraction from his self-doubts. He would rather gossip with fellow drinkers and drifters than examine his own failings and shortcomings. Indeed, it seems that after he resolves to become “less weary of his life, less vanquished in spirit,” all thought must stop lest it return to the realism of his age and lack of love or vocation.

Chandler, who is more mature than Lenehan (partly evidenced by his habitation of a maturity story rather than an adolescence story), doesn’t stifle his thoughts as he traverses Capel Street. Rather, the 7 minutes it would take him to walk from the corner of Henrietta and Capel Streets to Grattan Bridge appear in the text as paragraphs packed full of reflection.

“He turned to the right towards Capel Street. Ignatius Gallaher on the London Press! Who would have thought it possible eight years before? Still, now that he reviewed the past, Little Chandler could remember many signs of future greatness in his friend. People used to say that Ignatius Gallaher was wild. Of course, he did mix with a rakish set of fellows at that time, drank freely and borrowed money on all sides. In the end he had got mixed up in some shady affair, some money transaction: at least, that was one version of his flight. But nobody denied him talent. There was always a certain … something in Ignatius Gallaher that impressed you in spite of yourself. Even when he was out at elbows and at his wits’ end for money he kept up a bold face. Little Chandler remembered (and the remembrance brought a slight flush of pride to his cheek) one of Ignatius Gallaher’s sayings when he was in a tight corner:

–Half time now, boys, he used to say light-heartedly. Where’s my considering cap?

That was Ignatius Gallaher all out; and, damn it, you couldn’t but admire him for it.

Little Chandler quickened his pace. For the first time in his life he felt himself superior to the people he passed. For the first time his soul revolted against the dull inelegance of Capel Street. There was no doubt about it: if you wanted to succeed you had to go away. You could do nothing in Dublin. As he crossed Grattan Bridge he looked down the river towards the lower quays and pitied the poor stunted houses” (72-73).

The movement from north Dublin to south tranforms Chandler. He becomes more confident as “every step brought him closer to London, farther from his own sober, inartistic life” (73). So what is it about Capel Street that advances confidence or at least has the power to quiet self-doubt? What sights and sounds would have populated Lenehan and Chandler’s walks down this innocuous commercial corridor?

Rocque Map

John Rocque’s 1756 map, as reproduced and augmented with red border showing the Capel Street are by the Dublin City Council in its CAPEL STREET & ENVIRONS ARCHITECTURAL CONSERVATION AREA ( ACA ) report.

First, Capel Street is only one of two explicit references (along with Dame Street) the two stories share even though an implicit path is also common. So although the shared change of heart both men experience on their Capel Street walks suggests a kind of parallel characterization, their similar experience is perhaps more a product of the location itself than any similarity of personality. As a commercial artery, Capel street is and was a place of common utility for many Dubliners. A Dublin City development plan describes the street as “one of the most historically significant streets in Dublin City. The street formed part of an extension of the city north of the river by Sir Humphrey Jervis who built his estate on the lands of St. Mary’s Abbey. In 1676 Jervis built a new bridge, Essex Bridge [later renamed Grattan Bridge], which established Capel Street as one of the main thoroughfares between the north and south sides of Dublin City” (1). The report explains that “Capel Street was originally planned in the 17th Century for residential use,” and for a time it indeed “became one of the most fashionable addresses” (2). But the area was repurposed in the eighteenth century for commerce. The report continues, “Capel Street took on the its current appearance we see today during the 19th century. During this period retail became prominent on the street so that domestic houses at the top lost their front doors and railings to make way for shopfronts” (4). It wasn’t until the past century that “the Capel Street area was subject to urban decay” and the necessity arose to implement a plan to preserve its historic features.

A recent photograph from a local Dublin tourism and business website. The view is the same as the initial image above, 300 years later.

A recent photograph from a local Dublin tourism and business website. The view is the same as the initial image above, over 300 years later.

Capel Street was well established but already in the early stages of its decay during the time period in which Dubliners is set. Perhaps the comfortable and long-cemented bustle served as a kind of reassuring diversion from Lenehan’s perceived individual shortcomings. And for Chandler, “the dull inelegance of Capel Street” filled the role of inferior metropolis necessary to bolster his own imagined sense of superior displacement. More specifically, the inelegance Chandler perceived became a theme for the art he could create outside of Dublin. In both cases, the moments spanned on Capel Street offer a kind of transcendence of spirit while still anchoring their occupants with a kind of inevitability of fortune. It hardly needs to be noted that such co-existence of epiphany and paralysis defines Dubliners, but it is remarkable that this ambivalence can be gleaned through a simple geographical reference shared between two characters on very different paths and in very different stages in life.


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Editor’s Note: The following is a guest contribution. Kurt Hochenauer is professor of English at the University of Central Oklahoma where he teaches modern British and postcolonial literature. He is the author of the political blog Okie Funk.

This detail from an 1883 Lett's, Sons, & Co. map, Plan of the City of Dublin, shows O'Connell Bridge in the center. The cab would have taken the party from the west along the south side of the Liffey before it crossed northward over the bridge and continued up Sackville Street to the Gresham Hotel, just north of the General Post Office, which can be seen in red. In the southern portion of the map is Trinity College, and across from that is the Bank, also in red, and just under that "K. Will. III. Statue, " indicating the location of the reference King Billy's statue.

This detail from an 1883 Lett’s, Sons, & Co. map, Plan of the City of Dublin, shows O’Connell Bridge in the center. The cab would have taken the party from the west along the south side of the Liffey before it crossed northward over the bridge and continued up Sackville Street to the Gresham Hotel, just north of the General Post Office, which can be seen in red. In the southern portion of the map is Trinity College, and across from that is the Bank, also in red, and just under that “K. Will. III. Statue, ” indicating the location of the referenced King Billy’s statue.

One of the livelier intellectual debates in the James Joyce scholarly community situates itself along a spectrum between what I will call the aesthetes and the politicos.

To put it in the most simplistic dichotomy, the aesthetes believe the lasting value of Joyce’s work is in the author’s brilliant use of language and symbolism. The politicos believe Joyce’s political and sociocultural statements are as much central to his work as artistic wordplay or the creation of modern and new literary structures and forms.

Obviously, the binary isn’t so tidy, and aesthetics inform the politics and vice versa, but it’s worth noting as a prelude to any academic discussion of “The Dead,” which appears in Dubliners, or any particular segments of that story, which is the perfect stew of astute political commentary and brilliant literary aesthetics but surely is not Joyce’s last major “political” work of fiction.

O'Connell Bridge, Dublin, photographed by Robert French ca. July 1900. From the National Library of Ireland's digitized Lawrence Photograph Collection.

O’Connell Bridge, Dublin, photographed by Robert French ca. July 1900. From the National Library of Ireland’s digitized Lawrence Photograph Collection.

Gabriel’s political epiphany to fully embrace his country’s quest for independence and its heritage on a “journey westward” in his hotel room only comes after his cab crosses the O’Connell Bridge, named after one of Ireland’s most famous leaders and agitators for emancipation, Daniel O’Connell. The bridge and its political implications are heavily tied to the theme of the story, and serve as the gateway to Gabriel’s political enlightenment after his encounter with Molly Ivors at his aunts’ home.

In the story, Gabriel and his wife Gretta share a cab with Mr. Bartell D’Arcy and Miss O’Callaghan as the couple go back to their hotel room after the party. Here’s the relevant segment:

“As the cab drove across O’Connell Bridge Miss O’Callaghan said:

–They say you never cross O’Connell Bridge without seeing a white horse.

–I see a white man this time, said Gabriel.

–Where? asked Mr. Bartell D’Arcy.

Gabriel pointed to the statue, on which lay patches of snow. Then he nodded familiarly to it and waved his hand.

–Good-night, Dan, he said gaily.” (214)

O'Connell Statue, Dublin, photographed by Robert French between 1880 and 1900. From the National Library of Ireland's digitized Lawrence Photograph Collection.

O’Connell Statue, Dublin, photographed by Robert French between 1880 and 1900. From the National Library of Ireland’s digitized Lawrence Photograph Collection.

The Carlisle Bridge was built to go over the River Liffey in Dublin. It was first constructed from 1794-1798 by James Gandon and named after Frederick Howard, 5th Earl of Carlisle, known as Lord Carlisle. It was later widened in 1880, and was renamed O’Connell Bridge in 1882 when the O’Connell statue was erected in Dublin. There’s an old legend that one always sees a white horse on the bridge, which could be a reference to the white horse owned by British King William III, or “King Billy,” who reigned from 1672 to 1702 and was widely hated by Irish Catholics. By the time the party crosses the bridge, incidentally, Gabriel has only an hour before told the story of his grandfather’s horse Johnny who walked circles around King Billy’s statue because he apparently “fell in love with the horse King Billy sits on” (208).

The bridge’s basic political implications seem almost too obvious to note, but in “The Dead” it becomes a symbolic blending of a basic Dublin iconic place name not only with Gabriel’s later catharsis but also with the numerous ironies and overlaps in the story.

When Gabriel happily and playfully says “Good-night, Dan,” referring to the O’Connell statue, he doesn’t know yet his wife will cry herself to sleep after thinking about a young man who once loved her and who she thinks maybe even died for her. Gabriel remains awake after Gretta’s emotional outburst in the hotel room with “generous tears” in his eyes and makes a connection with “vast hosts of the dead,” which would obviously include O’Connell.

First, Gabriel must lose his old, stifling West Briton identity, the source of his anxiety:

“His own identity was fading out into a grey impalpable world: the solid world itself, which these dead had one time reared and lived in, was dissolving and dwindling.” (223)

With his self-conscious and self-fawning identity now eradicated, Gabriel can finally embrace the struggle. “The time had come for him to set out on his journey westward,” or, to put it another way, the time has come for Gabriel to become politically realized. The snow that covers the O’Connell statue, which Gabriel noted earlier, continues to fall general across Ireland, uniting him with his historical past and propelling him westward to awakening.

The O’Connell Bridge is a symbolic gateway to Gabriel’s political epiphany and, by extension, Joyce’s political awakening, which the author deployed in both bold and subversive ways in his writing in and after “The Dead.”

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Editor’s Note: The following is a guest contribution by Julie McCormick Weng, a Marion L. Brittain Postdoctoral Fellow at Georgia Institute of Technology. Her recent publications include articles in Journal of Modern Literature and Éire-Ireland. Her essay in Joyce Studies Annual, “From ‘Dear Dirty Dublin’ to ‘Hibernian Metropolis’: A Vision of the City from the Tramways of Ulysses,’” argues that Joyce’s depiction of Dublin’s tramways redresses stereotypes of Ireland as a (technologically) underdeveloped country. Julie also serves as editor of reviews for Breac: A Digital Journal of Irish Studies.

From a larger map of Dublin’s tramways, this subsection displays the Donnybrook tram route featured in “Two Gallants.” Dated 1912 on the back, this map was likely incorporated into a Dublin guidebook.

From a larger map of Dublin’s tramways, this subsection displays the Donnybrook tram route featured in “Two Gallants.” Dated 1912 on the back, this map was likely incorporated into a Dublin guidebook. (Click to zoom.)

In “Two Gallants,” the Donnybrook Tram(line) is mentioned twice. In both instances, the transportation route facilitates Corley’s duplicitous meetings with a woman.

In the first reference, Corley explains that after a chance meeting with a maid (or as he calls her, a “fine tart”) at Waterhouse’s clock, he made an “appointment” to meet her the following Sunday. Upon their meeting, they “went out to Donnybrook,” a suburb in South Dublin, where Corley takes “her into a field” to have sex (51). Not only does the maid bring Corley cigarettes and cigars that she steals from her employer, but she also “pay[s] the tram [fares] out and back” (51). In the second allusion, Lenehan follows Corley and the woman to Merrion Square and watches them “climbing the stairs of the Donnybrook tram” (56). From there, the couple travels to the end of the line to repeat their earlier sexual encounter.

Taking the Donnybrook Tram from crowded central Dublin to its more rural outskirts allows Corley and the maid to access a more intimate yet public space for intercourse. Even more, it permits Corley to further advance his plan of convincing the maid to steal more than luxury goods from her employer; rather, he aims to persuade her into taking the homeowners’ money.

As implied by the text, Corley’s philandering countryside adventures began long before his meetings with the maid. He confesses, “First I used to go with girls, you know…girls off the South Circular. I used to take them out, man, on the tram somewhere and pay the tram or take them to a band or a play at the theatre or buy them chocolate and sweets or something that way. I used to spend money on them right enough…” (52). Corley is absolutely gleeful, however, that in his latest relationship, he is the one on the receiving end. These sentiments support the opinions that Corley’s peers share about him—that he is a “gay Lothario” and “leech” (52, 50). He has a habit of stringing women along, both figuratively and literally, down Dublin’s tram tracks.

The Donnybrook Tramline that Corley and the maid utilize was established by the Dublin Tramways Co (DTC) in 1873. One of three rail companies servicing Dublin, the Donnybrook line “ran via Merrion Square (North and East), Lower Fitzwilliam Street, Baggot Street, Waterloo Road and Morehampton Road, to the terminus at Donnybrook, near the present bus garage.” James Kilroy notes that this line was known for its adoption of a “livery of ‘cream or pale yellow’” (19).

DUTC Advertisement, c. 1910.

DUTC Advertisement, c. 1910.

On January 1, 1881, Dublin’s three tram companies joined forces to form the Dublin United Tramways Co (DUTC), which offered about 32 miles of track and transported an astonishing estimate of around 10,000,000 passengers in its inaugural year (Kilroy 21). Indeed, in contrast to stereotypical assumptions of Dublin as a (technologically) backwards capital city, scholars such as Hugh Kenner and Andrew Thacker have claimed that by 1904, Dublin’s sophisticated and extensive tramways surpassed not just the rest of Europe, but perhaps even the rest of the modern world (Kenner 26, Thacker 127).

From the National Archives; Dublin Tram Timetable, 1910.

From the National Archives; Dublin Tram Timetable, 1910.

Because much of the population was illiterate, Dublin’s tramlines relied on symbols to distinguish the routes. The Donnybrook line via Merrion Square was recognized by two solid-blue conjoined diamonds (Figure 6). The north-bound end of the line was marked by the same symbol with a white “horizontal flash” passing through it (Kilroy 81). (Corley and the maid would have taken both these lines as they navigated to and from Donnybrook.) These symbols were phased out and eventually replaced by route numbers in the 1920s (Kilroy 84). Interestingly, Kilroy notes that although this system was one of a kind in Europe, it was implemented also in Egypt (84).

From the National Archives; Dublin Timetable, 1910.

From the National Archives; Dublin Timetable, 1910.

As seen in the image below, the first tramcars were pulled down the tracks by horses. These same tracks were later used as Dublin’s trams gradually electrified between 1898 and January 1901 (Kilroy 83). In “Two Gallants,” Corley utilizes the DUTC’s electric (rather than horse-drawn) tramways, which would have been a relatively recent addition to Dublin’s transportation infrastructure.

Horse-drawn tramcars on Sackville Street, 1896.

Horse-drawn tramcars on Sackville Street, 1896.

Altogether, the Donnybrook tramline serves as a route that supports Dubliners’ inner-city travel and also allows Corley’s illicit, countryside rendezvous.


Works Cited

Kenner, Hugh. The Mechanic Muse. NewYork: Oxford University Press, 1987. Print.

Kilroy, James. Irish Trams. Omagh: Colourpoint, 1996. Print.

Thacker, Andrew. Moving Through Modernity: Space and Geography in Modernism. Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2003. Print.


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While Milan and the Irish College, both located in Italy, are mentioned by name and thus discussed in elsewhere in this project, Dubliners also contains reference to the country of Italy in a (seemingly) more general sense. The reference appears in “Eveline,” in relation to the title character’s memory of her parents:

“Down far in the avenue she could hear a street organ playing. She knew the air. Strange that it should come that very night to remind her of the promise to her mother, her promise to keep the home together as long as she could. She remembered the last night of her mother’s illness; she was again in the close dark room at the other side of the hall and outside she heard a melancholy air of Italy. The organ-player had been ordered to go away and given sixpence. She remembered her father strutting back into the sickroom saying:

–Damned Italians! coming over here!” (39-40)

“Eveline” is a comparatively brief story unique in its breadth of non-Irish references. Making sweeping allusions to places as immense as Canada and Patagonia, and as far removed as Melbourne, Joyce balances this story of one young woman’s geographic constriction against a taunting array of exotic and often foreboding locations.

While Italy is not so exotic a reference as others in this story, Joyce’s use of it in this particular context presents several interesting implications. Perhaps the most obvious of these is the irony of the Italian emigrant in Ireland juxtaposed with Joyce’s own status as an Irish emigrant in Italy shortly after the story’s initial publication in The Irish Homestead on September 10, 1904. It would worth further study to determine if this preliminary version included the reference to Italy or if that was added to the final version published with the rest of the stories in 1914 after Joyce had spent considerable time in both Trieste and Rome. Regardless of the timing of the reference in the story’s publication history, the prejudice Eveline’s father exhibits in his condemnation of the immigrants “coming over here!” is important enough to stick in her memory years later, and perhaps this prejudice factors in to her paralysis when it comes time to board the ship and become, herself, an immigrant in a foreign land who will undoubtedly face similar reactions from the natives of her new home in Buenos Ayres.

But Joyce embeds a far less obvious connotation in the reference to Italian immigrants and their music. First, the street organ Eveline hears (represented in the above video) was a common instrument played by wandering musicians during the nineteenth and early twentieth century. Often associated with poor Italian immigrants, their music filled city streets, and many residents complained to the extent that these barrel organs were outlawed in some cities. Music, of course, plays a significant role throughout Dubliners, and Italian music, opera in particular, is later esteemed  to be some of the best in the world by the music aficionados in attendance at the Morkans’ party in “The Dead.”

But another recurring motif  is transportation. Joyce packs his stories full of boats, carriages, trams, cabs, trains, bicycles, and even motor cars. Many Dubliners make use of public transportation in their perambulations around town and in between suburbs. And it just so happens that a 19th-century Italian immigrant is responsible for implementing the model for such public transit systems. While Italy is explicitly used in the story in reference to street musicians and the style of music they play, by applying some further historical context to the scene, the reference becomes much richer in its implications for Joyce’s ongoing examination of transportation in turn-of-the-century Ireland.

As a 1972 RTE program notes, “The Italians are by far the biggest foreign community in Ireland.” According to the text synopsis of the short film,

“The first Italians to arrive in Ireland came with the Normans. In the 18th century, the stuccodores embellished the Irish Georgian houses. In the 19th century, it was the Italians who gave [the Irish their] first transport system.”

More specifically, it was Carlo “Charles” Bianconi, an immigrant from what is now the Lecco province in northern Italy who introduced Ireland’s first public transportation service in 1815. According to Samuel Smiles’s 1890 Men of Invention and Industry, a book Joyce may very well have read, Bianconi’s father sent him away to strike out a living with a print-seller bound for London. The print-seller ended up breezing right through that city and instead settled his group of young non-English-speaking apprentices, including Bianconi, in Dublin in 1802. Smiles describes the Dublin the young Italian encountered as rather rowdy:

“Many things struck Bianconi in making his first journeys through Ireland. He was astonished at the dram-drinking of the men, and the pipe-smoking of the women. The violent faction-fights which took place at the fairs which he frequented, were of a kind which he had never before observed among the pacific people of North Italy. These faction-fights were the result, partly of dram-drinking, and partly of the fighting mania which then prevailed in Ireland. There were also numbers of crippled and deformed beggars in every town,—quarrelling and fighting in the streets,—rows and drinkings at wakes,—gambling, duelling, and riotous living amongst all classes of the people,—things which could not but strike any ordinary observer at the time, but which have now, for the most part, happily passed away” (224-25).

(Such a portrait, with its cheery conclusion that all is now peachy, might certainly have reaffirmed Joyce’s compulsion to hold up his “nicely-polished looking glass” [Letters I 64] for “that hemiplegia or paralysis which many consider a city” [Letters I 55].)

Galway Mail Car, photographed by Robert French between 1880 and 1900. The carriage pictured is a mail car, or "Bian," used for public transportation in the 19th century. Reproduced in the Irish Times article "Charles Bianconi and the ‘Ryanair of the 19th century’."

Galway Mail Car, photographed by Robert French between 1880 and 1900. The carriage pictured is a mail car, or “Bian,” used for public transportation in the 19th century. From the National Library of Ireland’s Lawrence Photograph Collection, reproduced in the Irish Times article “Charles Bianconi and the ‘Ryanair of the 19th century’.”

After he finished his apprenticeship, Bianconi spent several years exploring Ireland on his own, and in part because of all the walking he did, in 1815 he implemented Ireland’s first organized horse-drawn transit system. The vehicles operated on a regular schedule throughout the 19th century even after the railway system was introduced. An 1835 Leigh’s New Pocket Road Book of Ireland lists timetables for “Bianconi’s Royal Mail Day Cars,” which shortened trips that may have taken up to eight hours by boat down to just two hours by horse-drawn coach. In an Irish Times article, Aoife Valentine explains,

“The first trip on his open-top horse-drawn carriage took passengers from Clonmel to Cahir on July 6th, 1815. Both towns are on the River Suir, in Co Tipperary, but travel by water meant a journey of more than 38km; by land it was only 16km. Today the same journey is a 20-minute drive; then, most people’s only option was to walk.”

As the first story in the adolescence sequence of Dubliners, the kinds of transportation implied by the mention of Italian emigrants and explicitly referenced in Frank’s association with the steam-ship trade industry as a sailor for the Allan Line are still firmly rooted in 19th-century methods. Fittingly, though, the following story, “After the Race,” illustrates an evolution of those methods in its foregrounding of motor cars as the latest in transportative advancements.

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General View, Skerries, Co. Dublin, photographed by Robert French between 1865 and 1914. From the National Library of Ireland's digitized Lawrence Photograph Collection.

General View, Skerries, Co. Dublin, photographed by Robert French between 1865 and 1914. From the National Library of Ireland’s digitized Lawrence Photograph Collection.

Located on the east coast of Ireland 18 miles north of Dublin, Skerries is a town comprising part of the coastline and a group of islands in the Irish Sea. The seaside locale is mentioned twice in Dubliners as a vacation destination frequented by the Kearney family in “A Mother:”

“Every year in the month of July Mrs Kearney found occasion to say to some friend:

–My good man is packing us off to Skerries for a few weeks.

If it was not Skerries it was Howth or Greystones” (137).

Although it is referenced as a place the Kearneys visit, like all such destinations in Dubliners, it is never an actual setting where the story’s events happen. All the action in Dubliners takes place, appropriately though perhaps disappointingly to the Dubliners themselves, in Dublin. But that doesn’t mean place references outside of Dublin don’t carry just as much impact in the way we interpret the geographical politics of Joyce’s texts.

SKerries Harbour, photographed by Robert French between 1865 and 1914. From the National Library of Ireland's digitized Lawrence Photograph Collection.

SKerries Harbour, photographed by Robert French between 1865 and 1914. From the National Library of Ireland’s digitized Lawrence Photograph Collection.

Skerries by itself seems, as a reference, somewhat insignificant. It’s a small fishing town on the coast that, in Joyce’s day, served as both an industrial and leisure center. In addition to the town on the mainland, Skerries includes several islands–Shenick (formerly Red) Island, Colt, St. Patrick, and the Rock of Bill (or Rockabill), which technically comprises the Cow and the Calf. According to legend, St. Patrick first touched Irish ground at St. Patrick Island. John d’Alton’s 1838 History of the County of Dublin briefly chronicles nearly 1000 years of monastic and religious activity on St. Patrick island, which “has upon it some remains of the ancient church” (D’Alton 444). With its ruins, lighthouses, and windmills, Skerries would certainly make for a scenic and conveniently located holiday destination for a Dublin family.

A windmill in Skerries, photographed between 1900 and 1939. From the National Library of Ireland's Eason Collection.

A windmill in Skerries, photographed between 1900 and 1939. From the National Library of Ireland’s Eason Collection.

The reference to Skerries, like many Irish geographical references in Dubliners, carries with it long history steeped in legend. But taken in the context of the other two references–Howth and Greystones–Skerries is part of a Joycean trinity. Perhaps the most apparent observation we can make about this trinitiy of vacation spots the Kearneys frequent is that they are all in Ireland and furthermore very close to Dublin. Since the Kearneys embody the ideals of Irish revivalism, it is fitting that they should choose to spend their leisure time in their home country enjoying the scenic comforts and historic monuments of Ireland. The Irishness of this triad is emphasized when two stories later, in “The Dead,” Gabriel tells Molly Ivors, another revivalist, that he prefers to vacation outside of Ireland:

“–Well, we usually go to France or Belgium or perhaps Germany, said Gabriel awkwardly.

–And why do you go to France and Belgium, said Miss Ivors, instead of visiting your own land?” (189)

The three possible destinations, coupled with Molly Ivor’s response, directly recall the previous list of three destinations identified in “A Mother,” drawing a connection between Mrs. Kearnery and Miss Ivors. We might imagine Molly Ivors as one of the “little crowd of people [who] would assemble after mass at the corner of Cathedral Street” who were all “musical friends or Nationalist friends” (137). Ivors would ostensibly be both, or perhaps even a version of Kathleen Kearney herself, one who has detached from her mother’s protection and argues now more confidently. The juxtaposition of Skerries, Howth, and Greystones with France, Belgium, and Germany augments one of the dominant themes of the public life stories–Nationalism versus Unionism–and, in typical Joyce fashion, introduces a third player to the binary–in this case Continentalism. This notion of Continentalism appears first in “After the Race” with its diverse cast of multi-national characters. The public life stories, especially “The Dead” reify this notion, and that reification all starts with a seemingly innocuous list of vacation spots in “A Mother,” lead by Skerries.


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