“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.



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.


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.

Straits of Magellan

"Map of the Straits of Magellan and Part of the Land of Fire, Prepared in 1786" from Antonio de Córdoba's expedition, the first scientific mapping of the region. Available at World Digital Library:
“Map of the Straits of Magellan and Part of the Land of Fire, Prepared in 1786” from Antonio de Córdoba’s expedition, the first scientific mapping of the region. Available at World Digital Library:

One of several references that expand the psychological geography of Dubliners beyond the city’s borders, the Straits of Magellan infuse James Joyce’s realist urban montage with hints of unattainable escapism. Frank, Eveline’s sailor sweetheart has travelled the world and fills her head with romantic tales about places like Canada, Buenos Ayres, Patagonia, and the Straits of Magellan:

“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. Of course, her father had found out the affair and had forbidden her to have anything to say to him.” (39)

The story revolves around Eveline’s ambivalence concerning running away with Frank and making a new life with him in Buenos Ayres. Doing so would mean leaving her father and her siblings, all of whom have come to depend on her, and the city of Dublin itself, which, for her and the rest of the book’s characters, has an uncomfortably paralyzing effect.

The reference to the Straits of Magellan in particular does more than evoke an exotic locale an ocean away. Situated near the southern tip of South America and weaving through modern-day Chile (touching Argentina at its eastern mouth), the Straits are named after the Spanish explorer Ferdinand Magellan who led an expedition through the waterways in 1520. The journey was chronicled by Antonio Pigafetta in The Journal of Magellan’s Voyage, which includes a very basic map, pictured below.


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

While the meta-reference–the reference to a place that references a person–imbues Eveline’s perceptions of Frank with qualities of exploration and adventure, it also signals to a critical reader that once again we are facing the colonization paradox. Exploration and discovery are exciting, but not to those being explored and discovered (or rather, exploited and displaced). Frank talks about the “terrible Patagonians,” the people native to the lands surrounding the straits. Magellan named the people already living in this place he “discovered” Patagones, meaning “big feet.”

Although there is no evidence that Eveline considers any of this when she ultimately does not board the ship with Frank, it is perhaps still worth considering the implications Joyce sets up within the context of Eveline’s potential “new world” and her inability as a European, especially an Irish European, to embark on that particular expedition. As people under the rule of the world’s largest empire, the Irish would be especially hesitant to implicate themselves with Spanish colonization of South America. And inasmuch as Eveline represents Ireland, she is held fast to the iron of her own shores, unable to become the colonizer. She can’t go with Frank the explorer, Frank the discoverer, Frank the Ferdinand Magellan who battles terrible Patagonians, because she is herself Ireland, the colonized, the oppressed, the paralyzed.

If the earlier geographical references would have been limited to just Canada and Melbourne and Buenos Ayres, the connotations might be more simple: emigration, reinvention, etc. But that Joyce chooses to include the more problematized references to the Straits of Magellan and Patagonians demands a more critical investigation of how place contributes to the post-colonial themes of this story and Dubliners as a whole.


Howth Castle & Ireland's Eye, by Robert French. Photo published between 1880 and 1900. From the Lawrence Photograph Collection at the National Library of Ireland.
Howth Castle & Ireland’s Eye, by Robert French. Photo published between 1880 and 1900. From the Lawrence Photograph Collection at the National Library of Ireland.

Cited in both “Eveline” and “A Mother” as a leisure destination, Howth has long been a popular retreat for picnicers, hikers, and fishers. It’s a peninsula northeast of the Dublin city center, reachable today by the DART line and in Joyce’s day by tramline. Howth is never a direct setting in either story but instead the subject of reminiscence or an allusion to characters’ preference for local rather than international exploration.

In a rare moment of happy nostalgia for her childhood, Eveline remembers her father being kind and worries that he’ll miss her when she departs with Frank for Buenos Ayres:

“Her father was becoming old lately, she noticed; he would miss her. Sometimes he could be very nice. Not long before, when she had been laid up for a day, he had read her out a ghost story and made toast for her at the fire. Another day, when their mother was alive, they had all gone for a picnic to the Hill of Howth. She remembered her father putting on her mothers bonnet to make the children laugh” (39).

To Eveline, Howth is as exotic a land as she’s ever seen, romanticized in memories and indeed the farthest specific place from the city center still in Ireland that she has visited. In a story containing ten references, only three are in the Dublin area. Another is Belfast, a place connoting material wealth and commerce. The other six references span the globe, shrinking Eveline and her city to a constricting dot on an expansive map.

In “A Mother,” Howth is one of three places the idyllic-seeming Kearney family visit every summer:

“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 the two daughters attend good convents where they learn French and music, and Kathleen moves on to the Academy, and both have sufficient dowries, the family is not as well off as Mrs. Kearney projects it to be. Their vacations are never further than 15 miles away from the city center, and we wonder if Kathleen, like her mother, will never use her French other than for reading. Instead, as a bootmakers daughter, she will most likely end up much like Eveline: tied to Dublin by responsibilities to her aging parents. To ensure this situation, it seems, the mother encourages the girls in their activity with the Irish Revival. When explored in this context, Howth becomes not just a peaceful place for a summer holiday, but a symbol of Irish history and mythology, an eastern reflection of Miss Ivors’s Aran Isles, laden with ‘authentic’ Irishness.

Like a million places in Ireland, Howth has its ghost stories and legends as well as its traceable role in the country’s history.

The first known map showing Howth is by Ptolemy and dates back to the second century when, presumably, it was not a peninsula but an island, Edri Deserta. Over the centuries, Dublin itself saw times of flooding which prompted the construction of the canals and the river walls. It’s very likely that the isthmus that now connects Howth to the mainland was indeed underwater.

Map of Ireland Derived from Ptolemy's Geographia 1490. Available on
Map of Ireland Derived from Ptolemy’s Geographia 1490. Available on

“Evidence of human habitation on the peninsula dates back to at least 3,500 BC[E],” according to an impressive trail guide that describes the peninsula’s historical and legendary sites. The area was later home to Vikings and Norsemen even after the Battle of Clontarf until the Normans invaded. Tristram St. Laurence then “established his estate at Howth Castle. The castle has remained in the ownership of the St Laurence family ever since, although the unbroken line of male succession came to an end in 1909.”

That the Kearneys return to this place every few years for weeks at a time emphasizes their inextricable ties to the deep historical roots of their home. And these roots stretch from the once-island out of the sea to entangle Eveline in the paralyzing confines of memory and perpetuity that hold her fast to the railing at the North Wall.


“Eveline,” a story with only three specific references to Dublin locations, contains a total of ten geographical references. The remaining references span four continents, a scale that ultimately renders Dublin very small indeed, if not altogether constricting. Eveline is surrounded by reminders of her potential escape, from the world traveller Frank himself, to the new development across the street, which recalls friends long since departed for England, to the “yellowing photograph” of her father’s friend the priest who “is in Melbourne now” (37).

St. Patrick's Cathedral, the first Catholic church in Melbourne, Australia. Construction of the cathedral began in 1958, and though the nave was completed within ten years, the rest of the structure was only finally completed in 1939.
St. Patrick’s Cathedral, the first Catholic church in Melbourne, Australia. Construction of the cathedral began in 1958, and though the nave was completed within ten years, the rest of the structure was only finally completed in 1939.

Melbourne, in Victoria, Australia, is even further away from Dublin than Buenos Ayres. But like Buenos Ayres, it was seeing a boom of Irish immigration during the later half of the nineteenth century. Prior to this period, many of those who embarked on the journey to Australia were prisoners, sailing for the many penal colonies on the far-away continent. Some of these prisoners were even Irish priests, implicated in crimes ranging from murder to support of the 1798 rebellion. Three priests in particular were sent as convicts to the penal settlements: Fathers Dixon, Harold, and O’Neill. O’Neill, who had been falsely accused of murder, was released and returned to Ireland when his innocence was demonstrated in less than month, and the other two were released in 1803 and allowed to “exercise [their] clerical functions” in Australia, “a place,” according to James Francis Hogan in The Irish in Australia, “where they were so sadly needed” (228).

Patrick Bonaventue Geoghegan, from Dublin, was the first resident priest in Melbourne and became the second Bishop of Adelaide after his predecessor Francis Murphy (Hogan 254). Murphy and Geoghegan were two of many priests, along with James Goold, appointed the first Bishop of Melbourne in 1848 and responsible for the establishment and building of St. Patrick’s Cathedral in Melbourne, who were recruited by Dr. William Ullathorne, English Catholic prelate, who wrote The Catholic Mission in Australasia (London, 1837) and made it his mission to strengthen the Catholic clerical presence there. Most of his success was with the Irish rather than the English, however, leading him to feel that “ecclesiastically Australia must become a colony of Ireland.” 

But these first Catholic priests in Australia were too old to be “school friend[s]” of Eveline’s father. By Eveline’s father’s coming of age, priests were not only increasingly welcome in Australia; many were eagerly volunteering to dedicate their lives to serving a growing Irish and Catholic population in what was then termed “the antipodes.” A pastoral letter of 1885, composed by the “Bishops of Australasia,” summarized the state of their faith in that place thusly:

“At a date so recent as to be quite within the lifetime of men still moving among us, there was not one priest, or one single altar, in all these southern lands.” (qtd. in Hogan 263)

But by 1885 that all had changed as result of men like the one in the yellowing photograph who fought the apparent discrimination against Catholicism to erect a thriving institution. By 1888, when Hogan’s account was published, “the priests in the colonies number[ed] several hundreds; the churches [we]re among the most beautiful in Christendom…Such a contrast between the beginning and the close of a century is unexampled in history” (264).

Buenos Ayres

In “Eveline,” the title character has the chance to leave Dublin with Frank, her love, to his new home in Buenos Ayres. In the story, she weighs the pros and cons of leaving her father and siblings and a hard life of working and caretaking for the exciting unknown of a new country where she will be free to establish a new identity as Frank’s “Poppens.”

Paseo Colon, Buenos Aires
Paseo Colon, Buenos Aires, photographed in 1915. The photo is from a historic lecture booklet with the description “On leaving the docks and driving up into the city, the visitor is at once impressed with the fact that Buenos Aires is not so wholly wrapped up in the purely material as is our commercial center on Lack Michigan. It has broadened along more aesthetic lines and is cultivating the graces, not alone the sordid features, of cosmopolitanism. In the newer parts, the buildings and shaded boulevards and beautifully landscaped parks resemble rather those of Paris; although it is not behind our own big cites in public utilities.” Photo is part of the Visual Instruction Department Lantern Slides Collection at the University of Oregon,,3953

The city, which is the capital of Argentina, is named three times in the story:

“She was to go away with him by the night-boat to be his wife and to live with him in Buenos Ayres where he had a home waiting for her” (38).

“He had fallen on his feet in Buenos Ayres, he said, and had come over to the old country just for a holiday” (39).

“If she went, tomorrow she would be on the sea with Frank, steaming towards Buenos Ayres” (40).

The city is alluring to her, exotic and promising, yet it also stirs up trepidation. When, at the end of the story, she’s faced with boarding the ship, “all the seas of the world tumble[…] about her heart” and she fears that “[Frank] would drown her” (41). She grasps the railing and does not board. She seems to fear not only the uncertainty of a future with Frank but also the expanse of the globe.

Though the common spelling of the city’s name is “Buenos Aires,” Joyce’s alternate spelling draws attention to the etymology of the name, which is derived from Our Lady of Buen Ayre (“fair winds”), which would guide the sailors coming and going from this port city. Not only is the city’s name a fortuitous one for a sailor like Frank, the city itself was also a popular emigration destination for Europeans from 1850 to 1914. According to Sidney Freshbach’s JJQ article “‘Fallen on His Feet in Buenos Ayres’ (D 39): Frank in ‘Eveline,'” the year Joyce wrote the story, “an economic boom began, lasting till 1912, and, for the decade 1901-1910, migration shot up again to 12,585” (224). Eveline has the chance to become just one of many Europeans, which included the Irish, that made a fresh start in the thriving South American city.

Yet for better or for worse, she chooses not to go. Contradicting the example set by other characters in the story like the priest who had moved to Melbourne and her neighbors, the Waters, who had moved to England, Eveline decides in a moment not “to go away like the others, to leave her home” (37).

North Wall

North Wall, the site of ships arriving and departing in Dublin, features in both “Eveline” and “A Little Cloud” as a place of frustrated dreams for their main characters. It’s where Eveline watches Frank set out for yet another adventure without her and where Little Chandler, eight years prior to the story’s setting, watches his friend Gallaher set off for a life he would come to envy. The place reference begins the story of “A Little Cloud” and begins the final movement of “Eveline:”

“Eight years before he had seen his friend off at the North Wall and wished him godspeed” (“ALC” 70).

“She stood among the swaying crowd in the station at the North Wall. He held her hand and she knew that he was speaking to her, saying something about the passage over and over again.” (“E” 40)

In both cases, the main characters are contrasted with someone who gets to leave, and the fact that they have stayed or must stay in Dublin is the source of their paralysis. Their Dublin responsibilities, while offering a certain level of comfort, are also their bindings. The North Wall, which offers some the chance to escape, is yet another unassailable boundary for the likes of Eveline and Little Chandler.

The National Railway Museum has digitized this photo from its collections with the following description: "Sailing ships and steam passenger ferries at North Wall docks, Dublin, about 1906."
The National Railway Museum has digitized this photo from its collections with the following description: “Sailing ships and steam passenger ferries at North Wall docks, Dublin, about 1906.”


North Wall can refer to the general area north of the Liffey and east of the canal or the North Wall Quay which spans the north wall of the Liffey from the Custom House to East Wall. In the case of both stories, it would seem to refer to the docks from which ships sailed, which are indeed along the quay. The photo above is from the National Railway Museum and shows “[s]ailing ships and steam passenger ferries at North Wall docks, Dublin, about 1906.” Many of the ships that would dock here would take their passengers to Liverpool or Holyhead. From there, they could travel anywhere in the world.

The Stores (Pim’s)

Mentioned in both “Eveline” and “Two Gallants,” the Stores was actually a department store in South Great George’s Street. Don Gifford refers to it as “a small wholesale-retail empire” run by Pim Brothers Limited. Pictured below, the Pim’s Department Store was “designed by Sandham Symes and built in several stages by the Pim family from the mid 1850s onwards,” according to Archiseek. And  Shaw’s 1850 Dublin Directory shows “Pim Brothers and Co., [at] 75-82 South Great George’s St (wholesale and retail linen and woollen drapers, silk mercers, hosiers and haberdashers).” Incidentally, one member of the prominent Quaker Pim family was Elizabeth Eveleen Pim.

1856 – Pim’s Department Store, Sth Great George’s Street, Dublin. From Archiseek,
1856 – Pim’s Department Store, Sth Great George’s Street, Dublin. From Archiseek,

Eveline, the young woman in Joyce’s story, works in the Stores to bring in income for her family. The place holds connotations of responsibility for Eveline, and it appears in direct contrast to her whimsical fantasies of running off with her lover Frank:

“Of course she had to work hard both in the house and at business. What would they say of her in the Stores when they found out that she had run away with a fellow?” (37)

The Stores appear again in quite another context, as “Pim’s,” in “Two Gallants.” Corley boasts to Lenehan about his “slavey,” admitting that he essentially lied to her, telling her that he had worked in Pim’s and was now out of a job:

“Maybe she thinks you’ll marry her,” said Lenehan.

“I told her I was out of a job,” said Corley. “I told her I was in Pim’s. She doesn’t know my name. I was too hairy to tell her that. But she thinks I’m a bit of class, you know.”

There is no explanation in the story of how or why Corley would no longer work in Pim’s. However, the Times, London’s Annual Summaries [1851-1892] reports “the co-operative stores in Dublin were burned out” in 1892 (201). Corley would certainly have been out of work at Pim’s if it had recently burned down. The reference is still somewhat murky, however, since other accounts don’t place the 1892 fire at Pim’s, but rather at another well-known Great George’s Street shopping area, the City Markets. The markets, also referenced in “Two Gallants” as Lenehan makes his back to meet Corley after wandering the city, are a block north of the department store on the east side of the street. (The Market would be to the right of the diagram below.) Now called the George’s Street Arcade, the Markets, according to their website’s history, were originally opened with a large private luncheon that featured “the Chairman of the market company Mr Joseph Tod Hunter Pim.” Eleven years later, in 1892, a fire devastated the markets, but they were repaired and rebuilt in 1894. 

Diagram for businesses in South Great George's Street, including Pim's Department Store.
Diagram for businesses in South Great George’s Street, including Pim’s Department Store.

Is it possible that Corley had been referring to the City Markets when he said he worked in Pim’s? The Pims were certainly prominent merchants in Great George’s Street and may have operated a shop in the markets in addition to their department store down the street. Or is Corley conflating Pim’s Department Store and the City Markets, ignorant of his mistake? If so, is it possible that his lady friend probably sees through his lies? Or is his immediate shift from “I told her I was out of a job” to “I told her I was in Pim’s” simply a non-sequitur, having nothing to do with the fire that could have understandably put him out of work temporarily? Is Joyce himself conflating Pim’s and the Markets?

In any case, there’s room for more study here. Among one of the more compelling literary implications is the idea that Corley, already a manipulative cad, is made even lower by his intent to garner sympathy for his lack of a job due to a devastating fire.


A harbour at Montreal in1874 from the Customs House. Alexander Henderson / Library and Archives Canada / PA-149728. From
A harbour at Montreal in1874 from the Customs House. Alexander Henderson / Library and Archives Canada / PA-149728. From

While many of Joyce’s references are unquestionably exact, even down to the address or the name of the establishment, others are dauntingly vague. For example, the reference to Canada in “Eveline,” at first glance seems expansive, especially as it refers to Frank’s adventures in Eveline’s limited perspective:

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” (39).

Canada also serves as the birthplace of Andre Riviere in “After the Race:”

“They were Charles Segouin, the owner of the car; Andre Riviere, a young electrician of Canadian birth; a huge Hungarian named Villona and a neatly groomed young man named Doyle” (42-43).

In “After the Race,” the reference serves partly as an emphasis on the international overtones of the story.  The young men in the story come from all over the Western hemisphere and converge in Dublin in celebration of youth, energy, and speed.

A country spanning 9.98 million square kilometers is, as a geographic reference, quite a deviation in scale from, say, Mulligan’s pub in Poolbeg Street. Its magnitude is consistent with the general internationalism of “After the Race” as well as Eveline’s perception of all the far-away worlds Frank inhabits. In Eveline’s case, it would make sense that, to her, Canada is just Canada, a vast world contained within a single word. However, Frank is probably only familiar with a small part of the country, and it’s one of four major cities that serve as the ports for the Allan Line.

The Allan Line was a shipping company in service from 1854 to 1911. (After 1911, it merged with another company.) It sailed between North America, Europe, and South America (including “Buenos Ayres”) and was operated by a Canadian shipping family based in Quebec. Of its several steam ship routes between 1854 and 1917 (when its merger with Canadian Pacific Line was made official), five served ports in Canada:

  • 1854 – 1917 Liverpool – (Moville) – Quebec – Montreal (summer)
  • 1854 – 1903 Liverpool – (Halifax) – Portland (winter)
  • 1861 – 1917 Glasgow – St. John’s NF – Quebec – Montreal.
  • 1871 – 1892 Liverpool – Queenstown – Halifax – Norfolk – Baltimore.
  • 1888 – 1917 London / Havre – Quebec / Montreal – St. John, NB (winter)

from The Ships List

The Ships List website lists all of the Allan Line ships that would have sailed those routes and features several photographs of the ships as well as the ports. “[Frank] told [Eveline] the names of the ships he had been on,” but the names aren’t mentioned in the story. Incidentally, though, one of the ships was the Bohemian, a name correlating with The Bohemian Girl opera referenced only a few sentences before the Allan Line reference in the story. The ship, however, was only in operation for five years before it sank off the coast of Maine in February of 1864, killing 20 people. The ship’s life would most likely predate Frank’s time as a deck boy. Other ships included the Brazilian, Parisian, Prussian, and St. Andrew, to name just a few.

While in the case of “Eveline,” the reference to Canada may seem at first vague and even intimidating, it is actually no more vague than the references in the same story to place like Buenos Ayres, Melbourne, Belfast, or the Straits of Magellan. What seems to be a reference to an entire country is really a reference to only a few possible port cities off of the Atlantic Ocean. To Eveline, though, it’s a world away from the world that holds her tightly in its grip.