Lucan Road

Section of the 1883 ‘Geological Map of the Environs of Dublin’ by Lett’s, Sons, & Co. showing Lucan in the far west, Chapelizod near the center, and Dublin city in the east. From the online David Rumsey Map Collection. The Liffey runs west to east in the center, and below it can be seen the Lucan Road, running almost parallel to the river’s course. Click image for full map.

The Lucan Road, mentioned in “A Painful Case,” connects the western Dublin suburbs of Chapelizod and Lucan, incidentally the location of the 1883 Dublin-Lucan Steam Tramway terminus. Running along the south side of the Liffey, the road spans from Lucan in the west to Chapelizod in the east. (Joyce even hybridized the towns in Finnegans Wake as “Lucalizod.”) The road actually has many names along various stretches of its length, but Joyce preferred to use its utilitarian label in Dubliners. Like the Shelbourne Road, the Lucan Road identifies a route to a town. And because that town is west of Dublin, it implies an opposite directional movement to the Liffey running nearly parallel just above it. Its westward direction also implies an exit from the city and thus connotes escape, departure, or moving beyond a boundary. All of these are appropriate in the context of “A Painful Case,” especially at the reference’s particular placement in the story.

Mr. Duffy has just re-read the newspaper story describing the death of his once close but lately estranged friend Mrs. Sinico. His first reading had been over dinner in George’s Street, a location within the city proper. But it isn’t until he arrives at home after a vaguely difficult end to his interrupted meal that the reader learns the story that so bothered him was one about the death of his friend. It is only once he is safely out of the city that the news is conveyed to the reader, word-for-word no less, and even then the story is followed directly by connotations of even further outward movement:

“Mr Duffy raised his eyes from the paper and gazed out of his window on the cheerless evening landscape. The river lay quiet beside the empty distillery and from time to time a light appeared in some house on the Lucan road. What an end!” (115)

Because the name implies a movement toward the town of Lucan, which is even further west of the city center than Chapelizod, the reference to the road imbues the news of the death with further implications of departure or escape. The embedded news story implies that the death was an accident, but the narrative suggests the possibility that Mrs. Sinico’s death is a suicide. In either case, the centrifugal movement from center to something outside is reflected between death and departure.

The movement implied by a road labeled for its westward destination also anticipates the more expansive “journey westward” in “The Dead,” and, like that journey, is initiated by the main character’s reflection on a disturbingly influential dead figure (223). But whereas Gabriel has only just learned of Micahel Furey’s existence, Mr. Duffy had been uncomfortably familiar with Mrs Sinico while she was alive. His emotions are more confused and visceral (the rest of the paragraph contains words like “revolted,” “vulgar,” “degraded,” “squalid,” “miserable,” “malodorous,” etc.), requiring perhaps a more limited geo-emotional escape so that he may instead work to anchor himself. In fact, he seems to do just this when he ventures back out for a walk, and it isn’t until he gazes back toward the city that he is able to to feel sympathy for Mrs Sinico, albeit a sympathy born out of guilt and shame for his own hand in her demise. While the lights of the Lucan Road, toponymically pointing westward, only offer Duffy a kind of malformed epiphanic journey westward, the lights of Dublin, pulling him eastward, present him with feelings of loneliness  and guilt. In the end, “[h]e turned back the way he had come,” but listens still to the train in the east, which seems to be iterating the syllables of his friend’s name as it moves away.



Dorset Street

Dorset Street, facing north toward Drumcondra. Photograph, created between 1900 and 1939, is from the digitized Eason Photographic Collection at the National Library of Ireland.

Though it’s the second place referenced in “Two Gallants,” Dorset Street is the beginning of a long circuitous walking route that winds through the story. In the opening paragraphs we find Lenehan and Corley walking along Rutland Square on an August evening. Following a scrupulous description of Lenehan’s appearance and sampling of his conversation style, we learn that “[h]is tongue was tired for he had been talking all the afternoon in a public-house in Dorset Street” (50). Don Gifford’s commentary on the reference is simply that the men “would have had their choice of at least fourteen or fifteen pubs on the street in 1903” (55). Indeed both an 1892 and a 1909 Thom’s Directory list several wine, beer, and spirit merchants as well as victuallers that may have hosted the men. A few of these persisted over the seventeen-year span and no doubt others came and went in between. (And as soon as we can get a digital edition of Thom’s 1904, researchers will have access to more precise information no matter where they are based.)

Dorset Street, known prior to the nineteenth century as Drumcondra Lane, runs diagonally through the north side of the city fromDominick Street in the southwest to the Canal Bridge in the northeast.  Upper Dorset Street (which is actually the southern half of the stretch) was populated by a wider variety of public houses and is closer to Rutland Square than Lower Dorset, so we might speculate that the vicinity between Dominick and Hardwicke Lane is indeed where the men have spent the afternoon and where they start their trek south toward the city center. This would put them at the start of their journey in the vicinity of St. George’s church and Mrs. Moody’s boarding house, which is in Hardwicke Street, the setting of the story following “Two Gallants.” The return to the setting of the opening of “Two Gallants” in the beginning of “A Boarding House” takes the circuitous path of the previous story beyond that story’s frame and injects something else into the way we read the opening description of Mrs. Mooney.

Screenshot of the Mapping Dubliners Google Earth map showing the parallel Dorset and Hardwicke Streets.

The stories share an approximate opening setting, but they also share a similarity of character relationships and motivations. Corley, like Mrs. Mooney, is an opportunist. And Lenehan, like Polly, is a willing participant in the other’s scheme. Completing the parallel trinities are Corley’s female companion and Bob Doran, both of whom are caught, not without some fault of their own, in the self-serving designs of the opposite sex. While this comparison could be drawn without a map, the added geospatial element introduces a kind of metaphoric utility to the movement in both stories. While the young men travel great distances, Corley by tram and Lenehan by foot, to achieve their goal, Mrs. Mooney only leaves her house to “catch short twelve in Marlborough Street” before she completes her task. In effect, Mrs. Mooney’s path, both social and geographic, is much more direct, while Lenehan and Corley’s is much more elaborate. The two young men must divide up so that Corley can get close enough to his girl to gain her trust and thus her charity. Meanwhile Lenehan must wander rather aimlessly, tracing circles through the city as he ponders his position in life.

The contrast could be a gender commentary by Joyce, but that commentary is a complex one. Is Mrs. Mooney more shrewd than Corley or more manipulative? Is Corley more willing to go out of his way for what he wants than Mrs. Mooney, or is he simply lacking the ability to apply his skills in more efficient ways? Mrs. Mooney is “sure she would win” while Corley “know[s] the way to get around [his target].” Both have confidence in their proficiency at manipulation, and both are ultimately successful. Mrs. Mooney just seems able to “pull it off” with less ambulatory effort.


“The First Map of the Strait of Magellan, 1520” from The Journal of Magellan’s Voyage. Available at the World Digital Library at

Although the reference in “Eveline” is to a people rather than a place, like the title of Dubliners, “Patagonians” elicits an identity fused to geography and thus presents us a geographic reference. The term appears amid a list of places as we learn about Frank’s travels to exotic lands:

He had tales of distant countries. He had started as a deck boy at a pound a month on a ship of the Allan Line going out to Canada. He told her the names of the ships he had been on and the names of the different services. He had sailed through the Straits of Magellan and he told her stories of the terrible Patagonians. He had fallen on his feet in Buenos Ayres, he said, and had come over to the old country just for a holiday.

The Patagonians he refers to would have been native inhabitants of the area of Patagonia in South America. The region name first appears on a map which was included in Antonio Pigafetta’s chronicle of Ferdinand Magellan’s 1520 expedition through the Straits of MagellanThe Journal of Magellan’s Voyage describes the native inhabitants of this land, spanning parts of the southern regions of Chile and Argentina, as Patagonians. In fact, if Dubliners are named after their locale, then Patagonia is named after its people.

Accounts differ as to the origin of the label “Patagonian.” It was initially thought that the name derived from a word meaning “big feet,” but more substantial research suggests that Magellan first applied the name Patagão as a derivation of Patagón, the name of a character in a text he was likely to have read. In the story Primaleon of Greece, Patagón is a giant from Paphlagonia, an area located at the top of present-day Turkey. After terrorizing  a “remote island” he is slain by Primaleon, the hero of the chivalry tale. Miguel Armando Doura outlines the rationale for this interpretation of the name in his 2011 article “Acerca del Topónimo Patagonia, una Nueva Hipótesis de Sugnésis.” (Incidentally, Stephen Mitchell explains that Paphlagonia may have also been the birthplace of Homer.)

Map Anatolia ancient regions
“Regional map of Asia Minor in the 2nd Century BC” from Wikimedia Commons.


The etymology of the name is also discussed in Bruce Chatwin’s 1977 travelogue In Patagonia.

Whether or not readers see the etymology of this place name as significant to the story of “Eveline,” what is certain is that Joyce’s reference to the “terrible Patagonians” imbues Frank with a kind of adventurous and exotic mythos. But if Frank is a modern Magellan, that makes him as much a colonizer as an explorer, and those implications are important to how we view Frank in the story and how we view the notion of emigration in “Eveline” and Dubliners as a whole. Like in all of Joyce’s work, the tension between movement and paralysis is very much tied to the politics of deciding between staying in Ireland to wrest it away from its colonizers or escaping its yoke and starting fresh in a progressive place offering more opportunity. But in typical Joycean fashion the latter option folds back in on itself, threatening to make the emigrant another colonizer, thus perpetuating the very circumstances that necessitate the escape. It is no wonder that Eveline is frozen as she tries to decide whether or not to accompany Frank into a new life. Could she sail to Buenos Ayres and perpetuate the history of the European “explorer” in the Americas? Even if the question doesn’t cross her mind, it’s one worth considering as one of Joyce’s politically infused toponymical clues.


Shelbourne Hotel

The Shelbourne Hotel as seen from within Stephen’s Green, photographed by Robert French between 1880 and 1900. Form the National Library of Ireland’s digitized Lawrence Photograph Collection.

The Shelbourne Hotel is a Dublin icon, and it makes sense that a work of literature named for and set in the city  would make use of its connotative potential as both a temporary or transitional abode in general and a symbol of the Ascendancy in particular. The hotel has been chronicled in at least two book-length studies, one in 1951 by Elizabeth Bowen and another in 1999 by Michael O’Sullivan and Bernardine O’Neill. It has a very detailed history, but in Joyce’s time, that history was less than a hundred years old and not yet outlined in print. What would have been clear to Joyce, though, at the very least, was that the hotel was situated in an area of Dublin known for its Georgian style and well-to-do residents. What would have also been known to Joyce  was the hotel’s typical clientele. Each year, explain O’Sullivan and O’Neill, the visiting viceregal court would “do the season” at Dublin Castle and would lodge during this time at the Shelbourne (8). Joyce would certainly also have been aware of the toponymic connotations of the hotel and would not have failed to seize the opportunity to imbue suggestive political overtones through the reference. The hotel, when it first opened in 1824, was named Burke’s, after the founder of the hotel and leasee of the property itself, which he added to and remodeled. But not long after its establishment, Burke changed the name to commemorate William, the Second Earl of Shelbourne, a decision that, according to O’Sullivan and O’Neill, fated it to be “umbilicaly linked, as it were, to the ascendancy” (7).

The Shelbourne appears in one Dubliners story, and it’s one that Donald Torchiana coincidentally argues “reflects the historic pomp and grandeur of Ascendency treacheries that cast long shadows behind the otherwise mean and stunted posturings of Corley and Lenehan near the end of Irish enslavement” (115).  The hotel is only mentioned once in “Two Gallants,” but it would have been a significant part of the setting as Lenehan passes directly in front of the facade at least four times during the story, and it would have been in his view many other times. In fact, it’s as interesting to explore where the hotel is not mentioned in the story as where it is mentioned.

Screenshot of the Google Earth map showing the several traversals and re-traversals of Lenehan that take him in proximity of the Shelbourne Hotel.
Screenshot of the Google Earth map showing the several traversals and re-traversals of Lenehan that take him in proximity of the Shelbourne Hotel.

“Two Gallants” opens with Lenehan and his friend Corley making their way from the north side of the city across the Liffey to the south. This movement in itself ambulates the shift in wealth from what was once the suburban north to the increasingly gentrified and affluent southern part of the city. They soon make their way down Kildare Street, where they encounter a harpist, a symbol of native Ireland, before reaching Stephen’s Green:

“They walked along Nassau Street and then turned into Kildare Street. Not far from the porch of the club a harpist stood in the roadway, playing to a little ring of listeners. He plucked at the wires heedlessly, glancing quickly from time to time at the face of each new-comer and from time to time, wearily also, at the sky. His harp, too, heedless that her coverings had fallen about her knees, seemed weary alike of the eyes of strangers and of her master’s hands. One hand played in the bass the melody of Silent, O Moyle, while the other hand careered in the treble after each group of notes. The notes of the air sounded deep and full.

The two young men walked up the street without speaking, the mournful music following them. When they reached Stephen’s Green they crossed the road. Here the noise of trams, the lights and the crowd released them from their silence” (54).

Before they cross the street, they would have been walking along the western side of the Shelbourne, but rather than narrate that figure looming on their left, Joyce describes the men as still caught up in the harpist’s tune as they walk “without speaking, the mournful music following them.” If, as Torchiana argues, Lenehan and Corley represent betrayers to Ireland, the harp music they’ve turned their backs on haunts them and perhaps even riddles them with guilt as they slip past the hotel. Furthermore, they cross the street in order to traverse the front of the hotel on the opposite side, perhaps in an effort to escape the guilt of association with Ascendency prosperity. To name the hotel at this particular point in the story would be to undercut the power of that guilt, and so it would seem Joyce is allowing the narrator to join with the harpist in admonishment of the young men’s betrayal.

The Shelbourne Hotel as it would appear to Lenehan as he approaches it from the west to meet Corley. Photographed between 1865 and 1914 by Robert French. From the National Library of Ireland’s digitized Lawrence Photograph Collection.

The next non-explicated appearance of the hotel occurs after Corley has broken off to meet his “slavey,” and Lenehan doubles back to get a look at the pair. After walking nonchalantly down the east side of Stephen’s Green, he crosses the street and returns back up the other sidewalk to sneak a closer look. In front of him and slightly to the left, in the background of his view of the couple, must stand the Shelbourne Hotel. As an off-center backdrop, it frames the couple with connotations of Britain’s looming presence and predatory economics at the edge of daily Dublin life. It’s a telling image foreshadowing Corley’s use of the young Irish girl for her money.

And it is just after this sneaky exchange that the hotel is finally mentioned explicitly:

“Lenehan walked as far as the Shelbourne Hotel where he halted and waited. After waiting for a little time he saw them coming towards him and, when they turned to the right, he followed them, stepping lightly in his white shoes, down one side of Merrion Square. As he walked on slowly, timing his pace to theirs, he watched Corley’s head which turned at every moment towards the young woman’s face like a big ball revolving on a pivot. He kept the pair in view until he had seen them climbing the stairs of the Donnybrook tram; then he turned about and went back the way he had come” (56).

Halting and waiting is an appropriate action to take at a hotel, a site of transitional and expectant tarrying. And so also is leaving it, which Lenehan does when he proceeds to follow the couple. But to return “back the way he had come” reflects that annual aristocratic pilgrimage of the viceroy. The route he takes to follow and return packs in yet another political connotation as it takes him just in front of Duke’s Lawn on Merrion Street. And here again, Joyce’s non-reference to the hotel is coupled by a sense of despair and perhaps guilt:

“His gaiety seemed to forsake him and, as he came by the railings of the Duke’s Lawn, he allowed his hand to run along them. The air which the harpist had played began to control his movements. His softly padded feet played the melody while his fingers swept a scale of variations idly along the railings after each group of notes.

He walked listlessly round Stephen’s Green and then down Grafton Street” (56).

Again, the non-reference to the hotel, a structure which looms on his right more half a block even if he turns midway away from it to circumnavigate the entirety of Stephen’s Green to avoid passing its front door, is paired with a focus on the harpist’s tune. The memory of that moment of shame or guilt when he first approached the Shelboune returns again to Lenehan as he again passes the hotel. And he very well may decide to walk all the way “round Stephen’s Green” specifically to avoid passing its entirety to get to Grafton Street, a route that would have been four times shorter than the one he chooses.

The final appearance of the hotel is again unexplicated and occurs toward the end of the story. Lenahan is making his way back to the agreed-upon meeting place, which means he must again cross from the west side to the east side of Stephen’s Green. Instead of taking the southern route, he apparently steels himself for the necessary and more direct route along the square’s northern edge, right along the front of the Shelbourne Hotel. Rather than ruminating on the emotional or psychological turmoil of the past encounter with the building (perhaps he’s already forgotten it), the narrative seems to rush through the stretch between the College of Surgeon’s clock and Merrion Street, as if hoping to sneak quickly past the ghost of guilt with her noticing:

“He set off briskly along the northern side of the Green hurrying for fear Corley should return too soon. When he reached the corner of Merrion Street he took his stand in the shadow of a lamp and brought out one of the cigarettes which he had reserved and lit it” (59).

His emotional soundtrack is no longer guilt but fear that he might miss the fruits of his friend’s plot–the money. Although his hours of wandering offer moments of possible redemption for Lenehan, by the end, as he smokes his last cigarette, he does indeed seem to have become the betrayer Torchiana, and Boyle and Walzl before him, claims him to be.

Crowe Street

Section of a map of Dublin by Georg Braun published in 1618. St. Augustine’s is represented as no. 11, just above no. 14, Damas (Dame) Street. From the digitized David Rumsey Historical Map Collection.
A section of an 1836 map of Dublin by the Society for the Diffusion of Useful Knowledge (Great Britain). Crow Street can be seen just above the “t” of the “Dame Street” label. Map from the digitized David Rumsey Historical Map Collection.

Crowe Street appears in “Grace” as the location of Tom Kernan’s office: “Modern business methods had spared him only so far as to allow him a little office in Crowe Street, on the window blind of which was written the name of his firm with the address–London, E. C.” (154). The street is labeled as “Crow” (no “e”) Street on an 1836 map of the city (pictured left), and C.T. M’Cready’s 1892 Dublin Street Names, Dated and Explained also carries a listing for Crow Street (pictured below) but not Crowe Street. M’Cready notes in the opening of the book that Crow was was the name of a property owner, and it was a common convention to name streets after the families whose property essentially established it as a street. Another source, however, John D’Alton’s History of the County of Dublin, lists Thomas Crowe as sheriff in 1685. M’Cready dates the street naming roughly 75 years after the sheriff of that-name-plus-“e” served as sheriff and ascribes the honor of the commemoration to William Crow, who owned the former monastery nearby. That monastery is labeled but not illustrated on a 1618 map of Dublin (pictured above) by Georg Braun. The earlier map does not show a Crow Street at all, so it seems reasonable to assume that William Crow, not Thomas Crowe, was indeed the namesake for the street. So the question is why Joyce appended an “e” to the name of the street when the street name in all the records was spelled without an “e.”

Screen capture of the Crow Street entry from the digitized Dublin Street Names, Dated and Explained, by C.T. M’Cready, published 1892.
A screen capture from the Mapping Dubliners Project’s Google Earth map version showing Crowe Street and the surrounding overlap of places mentioned and routes depicted in other Dubliners stories.

Crowe (with an “e”), in addition to the name of Dublin’s 1685 sheriff, was a common name in England. One that Joyce may have been acquainted with, by name at least, was the clergyman, poet, and orator William Crowe. It may simply be that Joyce hoped to imbue the name with something more of the English to connote the ever-present yoke of England on Ireland, a theme that is ever-present in the collection but especially in certain stories. Crow/e Street runs north and south from Cecelia Street to Dame Street, just south of the Liffey. It’s in the general area of Temple Bar, placing Kernan in the geographical vicinity of Farrington’s office and pub cluster in “Counterparts” and just off of the Dame Street part of the routes traversed by Chandler in “A Little Cloud” and the group of exuberant young men in “After the Race.” Crowe Street is also not far from where Lenehan comes upon two unnamed friends as he turns south into George’s Street from Dame Street. Each of these stories uses geographical or toponymic signs to connote a kind of frustrated Irishness fueled by the inability of characters to escape their economic situations. These situations are intensified by Ireland’s subordination to Britain’s economy and job market. Farrington works a tedious job under a Northern Irish boss and is snubbed my a London actress; Chandler longs to be published by a London press even if it means playing up his Irishness as a charicature; Jimmy Doyle loses his money to his more cosmopolitan friends at cards; and Lenehan, whose path doesn’t quite reach Crow/e Street, wanders aimlessly while his friend tries to find them some more drinking money. Kernan’s ties are as clear as the lettering on his office window. He works for a London-based company, and even though he isn’t bad off for it, he certainly seems to have problems he needs to drink away.

Whether spelled “Crowe” or “Crow” the imagery is more clear perhaps than the etymology. A carrion bird looms in the location of Kernan’s office. It looms on a corner of Dame Street along the path of the insecure Little Chandler and the soon-to-be broke Jimmy Doyle. Its caws can be heard two blocks away in Eustace Street where Farrington fumes in his boss’s office. And Lenehan avoids its talons by turning south a block and a half before he reaches it. Whether its image or its name or its unifying geography is the sign, the signified seems to be the same. Great Britain’s wealth looms, and the Irish are consciously or subconsciously frustrated.




“Rand, McNally & Co.’s [Map of] Europe” published in 1903, the year of the Gordon Bennett Cup race in Ireland featured in “After the Race.” From the digitized David Rumsey Historical Map Collection.
Belgium appears rather fleetingly in two Dubliners stories. In both cases it stands in opposition to another place that elicits more prominent attention. For instance, in “The Dead,” Belgium is referenced in Gabriel’s refusal of Molly Ivors’s invitation to the Aran Isles:

“–But you will come, won’t you? said Miss Ivors, laying her warm hand eagerly on his arm.

–The fact is, said Gabriel, I have just arranged to go——

–Go where? asked Miss Ivors.

–Well, you know, every year I go for a cycling tour with some fellows and so——

–But where?”asked Miss Ivors.

–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?

–Well, said Gabriel, it’s partly to keep in touch with the languages and partly for a change.

–And haven’t you your own language to keep in touch with—Irish? asked Miss Ivors.

–Well, said Gabriel, “f it comes to that, you know, Irish is not my language.” ()

Belgium, along with France and Germany, is set up as not-Ireland. It represents an alternative, a global or at least continental option.

Likewise, in “After the Race,” Belgium exists as part of a dichotomy, this one with perhaps seditious undertones. It appears in the form of a nationality, specifically that of one of the drivers in the Bennett Cup race:

“The French, moreover, were virtual victors. Their team had finished solidly; they had been placed second and third and the driver of the winning German car was reported a Belgian. Each blue car, therefore, received a double measure of welcome as it topped the crest of the hill and each cheer of welcome was acknowledged with smiles and nods by those in the car” ().

Here, Belgium once again appears alongside Germany and France, but this time it takes the position of a kind of negative space. The Belgian driver is not German and is therefore disqualified, rendering the French “virtual victors.” Because the driver is from Belgium as opposed to Germany, he is disqualified. He has subverted the rules, attempting to cheat his way to a win. In reality, of course, the nationality of a person operating a vehicle manufactured in another country has no bearing on his ability to maneuver the vehicle, how fast he can make the car go. But the predicament calls attention to Jimmy Doyle’s identity as an Irishman in the company of more cosmopolitan, more privileged young men. The disqualification of the Belgian anticipates Jimmy’s disqualification from the group at the end of the story as he sits below deck on the American’s yacht: out of money, out of cheer, and out of place among his peers.Like the Belgian can drive the car, Jimmy can try out the trappings of the continent, as a student and as a friend, but in the end, he isn’t allowed to win.

The not-place of Belgium as a geographical reference in Dubliners works to characterize both Jimmy and Gabriel as perceived failures, highlighting the problematic Irish identity that James Joyce himself struggled with all his life.


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.

Suffolk Street

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.

Dan Burke’s

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.