“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.

O’Connell Bridge: A Gateway to Emancipation

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.”


Note: The following text is that of the author’s presentation at the XXV James Joyce Symposium held in London in June 2016. The original, shorter London entry can be found here

Across the Water:
Economic and Political Implications of the Dubliners London References

Dubliners, the work through which Joyce initially sought to “betray the soul of that hemiplegia or paralysis that many consider a city” (Letters I 55), turned out to be much a more nuanced portrayal (“betrayal”) of that city by the time the last story was completed in 1907. At the time of his 1904 letter to Constantine Curran, the initial plan for Dubliners only consisted of ten stories. The following year, as Florence Walzl explains in “The Life Chronology of Dubliners,” “he had enlarged his plan for the book from ten to twelve stories” (408), and by 1906, he had completed those two additional stories and also added two more: “Two Gallants” and “A Little Cloud.” The collection now included fourteen stories, a defined “life chronology,” and a much more complicated looking glass than the one he had perhaps initially imagined. While in 1906, he still maintained Dublin was “the centre of paralysis” (Letters II 134) and that his stories about its inhabitants emitted “the odour of ashpits and old weeds and offal,” he also insisted that “the Irish [were] the most spiritual race on the face of the earth” and its people “witty” and “artistic” (Letters I 63-64). In fact, it seems that after he left Dublin in 1904, his ambivalence toward his former compatriots only intensified. By the Fall of 1906, a few months before he wrote the final story, “The Dead,” he lamented to his brother that  he feared he had “reproduced (in Dubliners at least) none of the attraction of the city,” admitting that he had never, except in Paris, been as comfortable as he had been in Dublin. He sought to rectify his omission of the virtues of “hospitality” and “insularity” when he wrote “The Dead” (Letters II 166), and  with that coda his picture of Dublin was complete.

Parallel to his critique of Dublin, though, was his critique of the capital of the British empire. If Joyce imbued Dublin with a complex ambivalence over the course of writing his stories, he also painted the city’s relationship to London as a particularly complicated montage of economic co-dependence and artistic hope and limitation. Of the six stories that reference the city of London, four do so in terms of artistic standards while the other two, both written later in Joyce’s process, emphasize and lament London’s superior and even abusive economic position in the Dubliners’ lives. It seems that even as he was attempting to redeem what was redemptive about Dublin, he was also becoming harsher in his criticism of the city across the water.

Dubliners contains nearly 200 unique geographical references. Such a focus on place, though not unsurprising in a book named for a city, demands that we consider the implications of place names. For instance, the very first reference in the very first story of the collection is to Great Britain Street. While the street is located in Dublin, its name foregrounds the presence of the British empire in every corner of the Dublin landscape and psyche. Though “The Sisters” isn’t necessarily a very political story–it doesn’t explicitly call attention to the England-Ireland binary–to imbue the geography of Dublin at the very outset with connotations of empire is to hint at the ubiquity of Britain’s grip on everything from the poor North Dublin neighborhood to the subconscious spatial awareness of the youngest Dubliners narrator. The references only become more specific and suggestive in the stories that follow “The Sisters.”

The first story to reference London directly is “The Boarding House,” one of the initial ten stories that had already been written by September 1905. In that story London is mentioned only briefly as the home city of one of the guests: “one of the music-hall artistes, a little blond Londoner, had made a rather free allusion to Polly” (68). The free allusion of the Londoner anticipates the seedier side of London that Joyce would introduce more thoroughly in “A Little Cloud.” In “The Boarding House,” though, it functions as a scene the blond artiste cannot break into, settling instead for what attentions and alms he can wring from an ostensibly less cultured and discriminating Dublin middle class.

The city is alluded to again briefly in “Counterparts,” another of the initial ten stories, as Farrington is reaching his breaking point in Mulligan’s after a night of drinking and storytelling. In the pub he keeps eyeing an attractive woman who is part of a group “out of the Tivoli” theater. The woman he is so fascinated by finally speaks to him in a London accent before leaving and never looking back:

“She glanced at him once or twice and, when the party was leaving the room, she brushed against his chair and said “O, pardon!” in a London accent. He watched her leave the room in the hope that she would look back at him, but he was disappointed. He cursed his want of money and cursed all the rounds he had stood, particularly all the whiskies and Apolinaris which he had stood to Weathers. If there was one thing that he hated it was a sponge. He was so angry that he lost count of the conversation of his friends” (95).

Part of Farrington’s frustration stems from the rejection of this exotic and esteemed Londoner, and it’s just after this exchange that he channels his rage into an arm-wrestling match, which he loses. The rejection of the London woman who is apparently out of his league sets in motion Farrington’s downward spiral of inadequacy and inferiority. Like the Londoner in “The Boarding House,” this woman is an artiste, but her association with the Tivoli sets her somewhat above the likes of the artistes who would be boarding with Mrs. Mooney. In fact, there is a suggestion in her attitude and Farrington’s bitterness at being rejected that this particular artiste is possibly even successful in the London scene, inasmuch as she is part of a touring group rather than a solitary performer like the blond Londoner or Madam Glynn in “A Mother.” Still, the Tivoli was not known for its serious dramas or operas, featuring instead burlesques, pantomimes, and farces. The artiste herself, though,  and the artiste’s lifestyle in general, is one that Farrington covets, and his frustration at not being equal in economic status, sexual prowess, or physical strength (he loses at arm wrestling to the English Weathers) all contribute to his violent outburst later that night against his son, when like many bullies, he inflicts the disdain and abuse he suffers on someone who is in turn dependent on him.

“A Mother” persists in the use of London as a measure of artistic success. The Londoner Madame Glynn, one of the singers in the program, is described as “[a]n unknown solitary woman with a pale face” (143) and later as a weak spot in the show:

“The first part of the concert was very successful except for Madam Glynn’s item. The poor lady sang Killarney in a bodiless gasping voice, with all the old-fashioned mannerisms of intonation and pronunciation which she believed lent elegance to her singing. She looked as if she had been resurrected from an old stage-wardrobe and the cheaper parts of the hall made fun of her high wailing notes” (147).

Although she is from London, where, along with Paris and Milan, Bartell D’Arcy insists all the good singers can be found, Madam Glynn is an unknown among the rather inexperienced performers, understudies, and bronze-medalists of Mr. Holohan’s rather patched-together show. Kathleen Kearney has no knowledge of her whatsoever:

“–I wonder where did they dig her up, said Kathleen to Miss Healy. I’m sure I never heard of her.

Miss Healy had to smile. Mr. Holohan limped into the dressing-room at that moment and the two young ladies asked him who was the unknown woman. Mr. Holohan said that she was Madam Glynn from London” (143).

Essentially, Madam Glynn must perform in a sloppily organized Dublin show because, like the blond Londoner in “The Boarding House,” she cannot perform in London because she lacks the talent or economic means to break onto the London scene. Caruso, on the other hand, whose talent D’Arcy extols in the only reference to London in “The Dead,” has toured in London:

“–Oh, well, said Mr. Bartell D’Arcy, I presume there are as good singers today as there were then.

–Where are they? asked Mr. Browne defiantly.

–In London, Paris, Milan, said Mr. Bartell D’Arcy warmly. I suppose Caruso, for example, is quite as good, if not better than any of the men you have mentioned” (199).

“Grace,” which Joyce completed in late 1905, was at that time intended to be the closing piece in the now 12-story collection. The story’s main character, Tom Kernan, makes his living by selling tea for the London-based Pulbrook, Robertson, and Company. Although we don’t learn these specifics until Ulysses, enough of the address on his office is given to reveal that whatever company it is, it’s based in London:

“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. On the mantelpiece of this little office a little leaden battalion of canisters was drawn up and on the table before the window stood four or five china bowls which were usually half full of a black liquid. From these bowls Mr. Kernan tasted tea. He took a mouthful, drew it up, saturated his palate with it and then spat it forth into the grate. Then he paused to judge” (154).

Again, the livelihood of this Dubliner is tied to industry based in England. That Joyce reintroduces Tom Kernan in Ulysses, along with more details about his employment, suggests that his working for an English firm is a critical part of his identity. Kernan is perhaps an older, now gentler, version of Farrington, still subdued by the British economic yoke and still drinking away the insult of this. Furthermore, his two sons have left Dublin, like they must, in order to achieve a measure of success. Even still, that they venture only as far as Glasgow and Belfast, suggests that the yoke is as wide as it is inescapable.

The two stories written next, after the initial 12 were complete, go further than any of the previous pieces to emphasize Dublin’s economic stagnation at the hands of British rule. “Two Gallants,” completed in February 1906, presents a detailed geography of Dublin as Corley and Lenehan, and then Lenehan alone, wander the city’s streets. With twenty-four geographical references, all of which are in Dublin, it is second only to “The Dead” in its use of place names. And although “Two Gallants” does much to articulate nationalistic themes and Ireland’s relationship with Britain, it never directly mentions London, England, or Great Britain at all. Instead, through the many references to landmarks, streets, and even the characters’ movement patterns, Joyce infuses the story with the history of Irish-English politics, one that, as Torchiana describes it “reflects the historic pomp and grandeur of Ascendancy treacheries that cast long shadows behind the otherwise stunted posturings of Corley and Lenehan near the end of Irish enslavement” (115).

But what is left out in English geographical references in “Two Gallants” is made up exponentially in “A Little Cloud.” Completed in 1906 after “Two Gallants,” it is perhaps the most direct illustration of the economic dichotomy of opportunity and paralysis that both drives and stagnates Joyce’s Dubliners.

In fact, much of the paralysis we see in the collection stems from its characters’ vocational or financial challenges. As Joseph Kelly succinctly puts it, “First and foremost, paralysis was economic” (17).  In his examination of Joyce’s political realism, Kelly points to his essay “Fenianism” in which Joyce claims Ireland consists of

“a population which diminishes year by year with mathematical regularity, [through] the uninterrupted emigration to the United States or Europe of Irishmen for whom the economic and intellectual conditions of their native land are unbearable” (CW 190).

One of those emigrants is Little Chandler’s friend Gallaher, whom we learn left Dublin eight years before the story’s opening to make a living on the London Press. From the very beginning of “A Little Cloud,” Chandler appears to be obsessed with his old friend and his old friend’s new home:

Little Chandler’s thoughts ever since lunch-time had been of his meeting with Gallaher, of Gallaher’s invitation and of the great city London where Gallaher lived. (70)

But what really makes London a great city to Chandler? There is nothing in the description to indicate Chandler has any great desire to see the city’s streets or pubs, theaters or waterways. It is simply the great city because it is where Gallaher lives. Gallaher represents the possibilities that Chandler opted out of in favor of a quiet family life.

As we learn in Ulysses, Gallaher works for a “Chapelizod boss” (7.732), another Irish emigrant, likely the real-life Chapelizod-born  Alfred Harmsworth who started London’s Daily Mail in 1894 and Daily Mirror  in 1903.  As “a brilliant figure on the London Press” (71), Gallaher is the epitome of success, even “greatness” (72) in Little Chandler’s eyes (“Ignatius Gallaher on the London Press!” [72].) And if only Little Chandler could write some verse about the Dublin tramps at nightfall, “[p]erhaps Gallaher might be able to get it into some London paper for him” (73); if only he could accentuate the more “Irish-looking” (74) parts of his name, perhaps he too could be considered among the London literary circles. In other words, Little Chandler considers his Irishness artistic capital in an English economy.

Once Little Chandler finishes his trek from office to pub, in which “[e]very step brought him nearer to London” (73), the two men discuss “the old gang” (75). One of their old friends, O’Hara, who still lives in Dublin has apparently “gone to the dogs” while another friend, Hogan, recently visited “London and he seemed to be very flush” (76). Hogan’s success is further depicted by his position on the Land Commission, an agency that Don Gifford notes was a “notorious porkbarrel” (70). Gifford explains that “[t]he Land Purchase Bills of 1891, 1896, and 1903 provided for the tenants’ purchase of their farms from the landlords through the backing of British credit.” So even though the Irish farmers were getting to buy the land they worked and maintained, they were only enabled to do so by borrowing from Britain. Even in their supposed property-ownership, the Irish are indebted to the British bank. Thus, the Irish Hogan, though still living in Ireland, is “very flush” because his vocation involves securing Ireland’s continued indebtedness to the British financial system.

As their conversation goes on, Gallaher encourages Little Chandler to travel outside of Ireland, and suggests he “[g]o to London or Paris” (76), and as they talk, Little Chandler becomes “disillusioned” by Gallaher’s new manner, but imagines it’s only because of “living in London amid the bustle and competition of the Press  (77).” In other words, living in London makes up for the “something vulgar in his friend which he had not observed before.” Little Chandler is even envious of the worldliness that has created the new vulgarity in Gallaher. He begins appropriating London as another “moral” city on a level with Dublin, considering himself and his city, wishfully, in league with Gallaher and London against places like Paris, which he sees as immoral. Gallaher must correct him, though, insisting,

“–London! said Ignatius Gallaher. It’s six of one and half-a-dozen of the other. You ask Hogan, my boy. I showed him a bit about London when he was over there. He’d open your eye…. ” (77)

As uncomfortable as London’ potential immorality makes him, though, Little Chandler still dreams of following Gallaher. All his frustration pours out as at the end of the story as, holding his baby and questioning his marriage, he broods:

“A dull resentment against his life awoke within him. Could he not escape from his little house? Was it too late for him to try to live bravely like Gallaher? Could he go to London? There was the furniture still to be paid for” (83).

Ultimately, it’s his debt that holds him back from leaving his despised home even at the same time that the London literary industry represents a chance to escape. But like Eveline clinging to the rails of the Dublin dock while romance emigrates, Chandler is bound to familial and financial obligations. It is too late for him to seek economic prosperity because he is already under the yoke of Dublin’s dependent economy.

Walzl maintains that “a young man in economically-deprived Ireland was not likely to have reached a degree of prosperity before his mid thirties” (412). Indeed, those characters under 35 who appear or hope to be financially successful, like Frank, Jimmy Doyle, and Ignatius Gallaher are seeking or have sought their fortunes, educations, or vocations elsewhere.  Even Gabriel Conroy, a comfortable suburban Dublin resident with coin to spare for a caretaker’s daughter and a night at a hotel, is accused of being a West Briton because he writes for a unionist paper and takes his holidays on the the continent.

The initial twelve stories of the collection seem to primarily utilize London as a gauge by which to apprehend the artistic success or failure of performers. “The Dead” reprises this utilization and cements the notion that good artists are in London, not necessarily or just from London. In its final version, with the addition of “A Little Cloud,” the role London plays as a reference in Dubliners tends to be one of economic privilege in opposition to a struggling Irish middle class. Some of the Dubliners capitalize on British economic opportunities while others find the London market hopelessly impenetrable. In either case, they can only really overcome their economic paralysis by selling themselves to the empire and/or, like Joyce himself before he even wrote most of Dubliners, getting the hell out of Ireland.


Trinity College

Editor’s Note: The following is a guest contribution to the Mapping Dubliners Project. The author, Jennifer Jennings, composed and submitted this piece as a student in Dr. Amanda Sigler’s James Joyce course at Erskine College.

by Jennifer Jennings

Entrance of Trinity College Dublin, taken by the author Jan. 13, 2015. Courtesy of Jennifer Jennings.
Entrance of Trinity College Dublin, taken by the author Jan. 13, 2015. Courtesy of Jennifer Jennings.

Though an important part of Dublin culture, Trinity College Dublin appears in various forms in only three of Joyce’s stories in Dubliners. In “After the Race,” Trinity, under the guise of “Dublin University,” is listed as one of the schools attended by Jimmy Doyle. In “Two Gallants,” Trinity is part of Corley and Lenehan’s route to meet the slavey. In “The Dead,” Trinity is mentioned twice: implicitly in reference to “The University Question,” a political conundrum in twentieth-century Dublin, and explicitly in reference to the college as a landmark in the cityscape. According to the Trinity College Dublin website, “Trinity is recognized for academic excellence and a transformative student experience.” However, without its unique and rich history, Trinity College would not exist as the university it is today.

Trinity has gone through several inceptions since its beginning in the twelfth century. According to Bruce Bidwell and Linda Heffer in their book The Joycean Way, the King of Leinster built the college as an Augustinian Monastery; however, the monastery dissolved in the sixteenth century and the land was appropriated by the city of Dublin (141-142). In Joyce Annotated, Don Gifford says that Elizabeth I used the land to found Trinity College and “further the cause of the Reformation in Ireland” (53). While Trinity College was founded as a Protestant school, the majority of Dublin’s citizens were Catholic, so the school’s intellectual opportunities were denied to the majority of Irish citizens. In fact, for a time Irish Catholic bishops forbade their parishioners to attend Trinity College because of its association with the Protestant domination (53). Gifford writes that while Irish Catholics did have the University College, Dublin, the early curriculum was so below the standards of other colleges that many considered it to have no power to award degrees or provide successful jobs for its students (117).

According to Bidwell and Heffer, Trinity’s main entrance is located on Great Brunswick (Pearse) Street and was built in 1760, destroying the Elizabethan architecture that once characterized the college. A fence separates the main campus from the public sidewalk, and at the main entrance there is a large clock that faces the Bank of Ireland (142). The reference to Trinity College in “Two Gallants” features the fence and the clock at the front entrance. Joyce writes, “As they passed along the railings of Trinity College, Lenehan skipped out into the road and peered up at the clock” (53). Bidwell and Heffer argue that Corley and Lenehan follow the path of the College Green and circle around the front of Trinity College to re-enforce Joyce’s use of circles in the story. These references to circles adumbrate the retrieval of the circular gold coin in the story’s climax. Despite its symbolic role in “Two Gallants,” Trinity’s role in “The Dead” is more nuanced.

In “The Dead,” Trinity College hovers behind Miss Ivors and Gabriel Conroy’s discussion of education. According to Gifford, Joyce’s reference to “The University Question” in “The Dead” marks a political shift in the conversation between Miss Ivors and Gabriel by providing something they can agree on. Joyce says, “When they were together again she spoke of the University question and Gabriel felt more at ease” (188). Gifford writes that “The University Question” deals with the debate amongst Dubliners about the establishment of a university that would provide an education equivalent to that of England and the continent and that would emphasize the Irish culture and Catholic tradition of Ireland (117). Presumably, Miss Ivors and Gabriel can agree that Ireland needs such a college; for Trinity College, while being sufficiently prestigious, did not meld this academic prestige with a Roman Catholic heritage in the early twentieth century. Only after Irish independence did a shift occur, and, by the 1990s, “80 percent of the undergraduates were from Roman Catholic families” (Fargnoli and Gillespie 218).

Joyce mentions Trinity College by name later in the story when Mr. Browne gets a ride from a cabman who is unfamiliar with the layout of the city. He resorts to asking the cabman if he knows where Trinity College is, and when the cabman replies that he does, Mr. Browne says, “Well drive bang up against Trinity College gates… and then we’ll tell you where to go… Make like a bird for Trinity College” (Joyce 209). Joyce uses this reference ironically to indicate that Trinity College is a part of the new Irish culture, and in some way he answers “The University Question” by adumbrating the future of Trinity College as a staple of Irish academia.

Works Cited

Bidwell, Bruce and Linda Heffer. The Joycean Way: A Topographic Guide to ‘Dubliners’ & ‘A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man’ with Maps and Photographs. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1982. Print.

Fargnoli, A. Nicholas and Michael Patrick Gillespie. James Joyce A to Z: The Essential Reference to the Life and Work. New York: Facts on File, 1995. Print.

Gifford, Don. Joyce Annotated: Notes for Dubliners and A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1982. Print.

The (Phoenix) Park

Phoenix Park is a 1752-acre urban park just north of the River Liffey in the west part of Dublin near the village of Chapelizod. One of the largest capital-city parks in Europe, it houses in its walls not only a zoo, grass fields, woods, sports grounds, a raceway, walking and biking trails, and wild deer descended from those introduced in 1660 when the park was established by the Duke of Ormonde as a hunting ground, but also the residences of both the President of Ireland and the U.S. Ambassador, the headquarters of the Garda Síochána (Irish police), and the National Ambulance Service College (previously the Hibernian Military School “incorporated in 1769,” Joh D’Alton explains, “for maintaining, educating, and apprenticing the orphans and children of soldiers in Ireland” [529]).

Phoenix Park, Dublin City, Co. Dublin photographed by Robert French between 1865 and 1914. The photo features the Wellington Monument, one of several statues and monuments in the park. From the National Library of Ireland's digitized Lawrence Photograph Collection.
Phoenix Park, Dublin City, Co. Dublin, photographed by Robert French between 1865 and 1914. The photo shows the Wellington Monument, one of several statues and monuments in the park, in the snowy background. From the National Library of Ireland’s digitized Lawrence Photograph Collection.

Though Phoenix Park is never mentioned by name in Dubliners, “the Park,” the Parkgate, and locations within the park, like the Wellington Monument and Magazine Hill, are. The Wellington Monument, which stands just inside the park’s main entrance, appears in “The Dead” covered with snow and frost in Gabriel’s imagination, serving in part as an outdoor solitary and quiet contrast to the bustling of the party going on inside the Morkan home:

“Gabriel’s warm trembling fingers tapped the cold pane of the window. How cool it must be outside! How pleasant it would be to walk out alone, first along by the river and then through the park! The snow would be lying on the branches of the trees and forming a bright cap on the top of the Wellington Monument. How much more pleasant it would be there than at the supper-table!” (D 202)

But perhaps the most Phoenix-Park-centric story in Dubliners is “A Painful Case.” The main character, James Duffy, lives in Chapelizod, a village whose name (translated “Iseult’s Chapel”) emanates romantic connotations through its invocation of the Tristan and Iseult story. One of the village’s main roadways, which Duffy traverses, runs along the outside of Phoenix Park’s south wall. The park is referenced at two points in the story. It is the last place James Duffy meets Emily Sinico, a married woman with whom he has “become intimate” (D 110), after what he perceives to have been an awkward and dangerously romantic exchange; and it is where he returns, alone, to walk and think after reading the news of her sudden and disturbing death.

The first reference to the park is used as a kind of response to a near-moment of passion:

“The dark discreet room, their isolation, the music that still vibrated in their ears united them. This union exalted him, wore away the rough edges of his character, emotionalised his mental life. Sometimes he caught himself listening to the sound of his own voice. He thought that in her eyes he would ascend to an angelical stature; and, as he attached the fervent nature of his companion more and more closely to him, he heard the strange impersonal voice which he recognised as his own, insisting on the soul’s incurable loneliness. We cannot give ourselves, it said: we are our own. The end of these discourses was that one night during which she had shown every sign of unusual excitement, Mrs Sinico caught up his hand passionately and pressed it to her cheek.

Mr Duffy was very much surprised. Her interpretation of his words disillusioned him. He did not visit her for a week, then he wrote to her asking her to meet him. As he did not wish their last interview to be troubled by the influence of their ruined confessional they met in a little cakeshop near the Parkgate. It was cold autumn weather but in spite of the cold they wandered up and down the roads of the Park for nearly three hours. They agreed to break off their intercourse: every bond, he said, is a bond to sorrow. When they came out of the Park they walked in silence towards the tram; but here she began to tremble so violently that, fearing another collapse on her part, he bade her good-bye quickly and left her. A few days later he received a parcel containing his books and music” (D 111-12).

Chapelizod itself abounds with mythic and romantic connotations, and Phoenix Park, just by its name, also hints at the deep passion and romanticism repressed within Duffy’s “saturnine” and ordered persona (D 108). For even though “[h]e lived at a little distance from his body,” he lived in a place called Chapelizod and walked in a place called Phoenix Park. Don Gifford explains that “[t]he phoenix, a mythical bird, consumed by fire once a millenium yet reborn of its own ashes, is a traditional symbol variously of Christ and of the regenerative power of passionate love. For the Irish the Phoenix was also a symbol of the rebirth of Ireland as an independent (and ideal) nation” (86). Since Duffy is neither religious (he has no “church nor creed” [D 109] ) nor necessarily political (“No social revolution, he told her, would be likely to strike Dublin for some centuries” [D 111]), the strongest notion the phoenix symbol conveys would certainly seem to be that of “the regenerative power of passionate love.” And although Duffy sees the Parkgate cakeshop as a neutral or platonic space to meet, and perhaps it is inasmuch as it is at the gate between inside and outside Phoenix Park, the couple’s post-cakeshop stroll inside the park can be seen as a return to the potential of romantic love, a reigniting of the very passions he is trying to extinguish. In fact, despite the grey “cold autumn weather,” in Phoenix Park they wander like it’s summer, and even their goodbye is a rather dramatic and tragedic affair.

Phoenix Park, Dublin City, Co. Dublin, photographed by Robert French between 1865 and 1914. The photo features the Phoenix Column, which was erected in 1747 and is capped by a phoenix rising from ashes.
Phoenix Park, Dublin City, Co. Dublin, photographed by Robert French between 1865 and 1914. The photo features the Phoenix Column, which was erected in 1747 and is capped by a phoenix rising from ashes.

After Duffy reads of Mrs. Sinico’s death four years later, he is at first repulsed that he ever associated with someone capable of dying in such a way, and then finally starts to mourn the loss of “[h]is soul’s companion!” (D 115). Once the sadness begins, and he realizes how lonely she must have been and how lonely he too would continue to be, he goes back to the park:

“The night was cold and gloomy. He entered the Park by the first gate and walked along under the gaunt trees. He walked through the bleak alleys where they had walked four years before. She seemed to be near him in the darkness. At moments he seemed to feel her voice touch his ear, her hand touch his. He stood still to listen. Why had he withheld life from her? Why had he sentenced her to death? He felt his moral nature falling to pieces” (D 116-17).

As he stands on Magazine Hill, feeling guilty and alone, he observes two lovers and then hears Emily’s name in the sound of a passing train:

“He looked down the slope and, at the base, in the shadow of the wall of the Park, he saw some human figures lying. Those venal and furtive loves filled him with despair. He gnawed the rectitude of his life; he felt that he had been outcast from life’s feast. One human being had seemed to love him and he had denied her life and happiness: he had sentenced her to ignominy, a death of shame. He knew that the prostrate creatures down by the wall were watching him and wished him gone. No one wanted him; he was outcast from life’s feast. He turned his eyes to the grey gleaming river, winding along towards Dublin. Beyond the river he saw a goods train winding out of Kingsbridge Station, like a worm with a fiery head winding through the darkness, obstinately and laboriously. It passed slowly out of sight; but still he heard in his ears the laborious drone of the engine reiterating the syllables of her name” (D 117).

The connotations of passion implicit in the allusions to the Tristan and Iseult story and the Phoenix force the reader to at the very least consider the storm raging in Duffy as he recalls Emily Sinico’s life-force as a potential rebirth for him (if not an initial birth), one that allows him to embrace the full power of his longings, whether those longings be for writing, adventure, or romantic love. The rebirth comes as he stands on a hill in Phoenix Park, watching the “worm with a fiery head” winding away in the darkness “reiterating the syllables of her name.” Her life, which woke him from his solitude, made him face emotional intimacy; and her death, to which he believes he sentenced her, has the potential to be a kind of gambit necessary for him to finally realize his erotic, and even homoerotic, desire.

But like most of the characters in Dubliners, although the epiphany is just there, clawing at the heart, it is muted by guilt and the perception of his life as “an adventureless tale” (D 109).

Theatre Royal

Theatre Royal, Hawkins Street, Dublin, photographed between 1910 and 1930. From the digitized Eason Collection at the National Library of Ireland.
Theatre Royal, Hawkins Street, Dublin, photographed between 1910 and 1930. From the digitized Eason Collection at the National Library of Ireland.

The Theatre Royal appears in only one of the Dubliners stories. It’s the topic of conversation briefly in “The Dead” as the party guests eat dinner and discuss local shows and musical performances:

“The subject of talk was the opera company which was then at the Theatre Royal. Mr. Bartell D’Arcy, the tenor, a dark-complexioned young man with a smart moustache, praised very highly the leading contralto of the company but Miss Furlong thought she had a rather vulgar style of production. Freddy Malins said there was a Negro chieftain singing in the second part of the Gaiety pantomime who had one of the finest tenor voices he had ever heard” (198).

The Theatre Royal is one of three major early-twentieth-century Dublin theatres, along with the Gaiety and Queen’s Theatres, referenced in Dubliners. Though other theatres and venues appear in the stories, Dear Dirty Dublin: A City in Distress, 1899-1916 by Joseph V. O’Brien lists only these three as serious theatres as opposed to music halls or production sites for varieties and “local amateur adventures into serious drama” (45).  Seamus Reilly, however, takes issue with O’Brien’s “hierarchical reading of ‘high’ and ‘low’ music” (12) as well as his limited definition of theatres, arguing in “James Joyce and Dublin Opera: 1888-1904,” that, in fact, Dublin had several theatres and music venues which were every bit as culturally significant as the “serious” theatres O’Brien identifies. A full list of various Dublin theatres and venues, including those like the Tivoli and others mentioned in Dubliners, can be found in John Finegan’s “Dublin’s Lost Theatres.”

Rather than just an august title for a venue, the title “Theatre Royal” indicated a patent from the British monarch, establishing it as an official and legal place to put on serious plays. The designation was historically necessary after the Restoration for venues to legally show “serious” plays, but by the early twentieth century, the title was more a historical one than a legally necessary one. Nevertheless, even though the 1843 Theatres Act eliminated the patent system, British theatre was still heavily censored. Thus, while venues like the Gaiety, which Freddy Malins brings up during the conversation, the Queen’s, and the Tivoli might produce pantomimes, farces, or burlesques, the milieu of the Theatre Royal was typically seen as more serious in nature. Don Gifford even explains that “[t]he Theatre Royal was primarily used for dramatic presentations, the Gaiety for the more socially prominent musical events, and the Queen’s for the productions that fit neither category” (99). Indeed, within Dubliners, James Joyce does represent the theatres according to Gifford’s categorization by placing the opera at the Royal, the pantomime at the Gaiety (both referenced in “The Dead”), and a possibly satirical production of the opera Maritana at the Queen’s (in “A Mother”).

Screenshot of the map showing the Theatre Royal just west of Mulligan's Pub.
Screenshot of the map showing the Theatre Royal just south of the Liffey and west of Mulligan’s Pub.

The Theatre Royal existed in several iterations on the same site beginning in 1821, and prior to that another Theatre Royal stood, fell, and was rebuilt in Smock Alley, just a block away from the Misses Morkan’s house in Usher’s Island. By the time the Morkans and their guests critique the theatre’s most recent opera in late 1903 or early 1904, though, the structure that stood in Hawkins Street, just steps away from Mulligan’s in Poolbeg Street, was Dublin’s second Theatre Royal to stand on that particular site. The first had burned down in 1880, and the second had only recently reopened in 1897. A recent biography of Mulligan’s Pub contains some interesting history, including the fire, and anecdotes involving theatre performers and patrons.

Joseph V. O’Brien laments that “[t]he great days of the Theatre Royal ended with its demise in 1880 [when it was] burned to the ground” (45). During its “great days,” it did indeed carry the reputation described by both O’Brien and Gifford. But when the theatre reopened in 1897 it became home to a much greater variety of performances, whether for better or worse. Owing perhaps largely to the expanding boundaries of entertainment, the eclectic tastes of Dublin’s populace, and the limited number of theatres with room enough to seat a large audience and accommodate numerous performers, the Theatre Royal featured not only opera, but also, according to an appalled O’Brien “wrestlers, performing dogs, and mumming birds” (46). O’Brien concedes, though, that the Royal did uphold its reputation as a major serious theatre in the city due to performers like Henry Irving, Ellen Terry, and the diva Melba, as well as theatre and opera companies like Mrs. Patrick Campbell’s company and the Moody Manners company. John Wyse Jackson and Bernard McGinley note in their edition of Dubliners that it would have in fact been the Moody Manners Opera Company that performed during the Christmas season at the Theatre Royal.

The Moody Manners Company was one of several popular opera companies that made regular appearances in Dublin during the time “The Dead” is set. A few of the more prominent ones were the Carl Rosa Company, which Seamus Reilly explains “played exclusively in the Gaiety Theatre;” the Rouseby Company; and the Moody Manners Company, which performed primarily at the Theatre Royal. According to “The Moody-Manners Partnership,” a 1958 article in Opera magazine that chronicles the company’s history, the England-based company formed in 1898, just one year after the reopening of the Theatre Royal “with a young chorus, entirely without previous stage experience” (Graves 560). The company was in danger of shutting down due to lack of money, but thanks to a huge turnout at their production of The Daughter of the Regiment in Dublin at none other than the Theatre Royal, they instead flourished. “The tide had turned,” explains Perceval Graves, “[t]henceforward it was all plain sailing” (560).

Seamus Reilly’s list of operatic performances in Dublin between 1888 and 1904 (published in Bronze by Gold: The Music of Joyce) identifies the only Moody-Manners production in December of 1903 as that of Carmen. Therefore, when the dinner guests discuss the “opera company which was then at the Theatre Royal,” they would most likely have indeed been talking about this company and this production. Joyce, an avid opera-goer and singer, may himself have even seen the shows that season. Opera was extremely popular in Dublin at the turn of the twentieth century, and Reilly explains “[t]he love of opera was due to the love of music generally, but opera also represented a chance to hear serious music and remain culturally connected to the developments in European music” (9). Despite Gabriel’s non-participation in the dinner conversation such continental concerns would have certainly interested him. Undoubtedly it’s Molly Ivors’s recent chastising of his lack of Irish pride coupled with Lily’s scurrying about that keeps him from joining in the dialogue.

The Moody Manners Company performed one opera in December 1903 and several in January 1904. Because “The Dead” is most likely set between New Year’s Day and January 6, 1904, the group is most likely discussing a December performance.  Although the The Moody Manners Company performed Carmen, another company put on the world premiere of Muirgheis, an Irish opera by Thomas O’Brien Butler, at the Theatre Royal that same month. The premiere took place on December 7, 1903, but according to Axel Klein’s “Legends in Irish Opera” in the Proceedings of the Harvard Celtic Colloqium, even though “[t]he opera was acclaimed as the first to have a libretto in the Irish language…at its first performance an English text was used and the Irish translation by Thadgh O’Donoghue was printed beside the English words” (44). Klein claims the opera was not very well received, and he notes reviewers couldn’t find much in the work to praise even though they wanted to, if only because it was “so thoroughly Irish” (qtd. in Klein 45). However, the introduction to the vocal score, which was published in 1910 by Breitkopf & Härtel, insists the premiere was produced “with great success.”

The opera’s argument, which is embedded below from the 1910 published score, explains that the story involves a love triangle between a man and two sisters. Muirgheis, which in Irish means “magic of the sea,” is the lead and is intended to be played by a soprano, while Muirgheis’s sister, Maire, is to be sung by a contralto. In “The Dead,” Bartell D’Arcy “praise[s] the leading contralto.” Although the soprano is technically the lead, he may be referring to whomever played Maire in the production. In the end, Maire, consumed by guilt and still unloved by Diarmuid, drowns herself but is turned into an ocean wave by Donn who decrees “The wind shall drive thee shoreward mid the foam, But never bring thee home…Thou shalt not die. This doom I give.”

A page from the 1910 publication of Butler's Murgheis vocal score.
A page from the 1910 publication of Butler’s Murgheis vocal score.

The other performance the guests may be referring to is Carmen, an opéra comique by Georges Bizet. The lead role of Carmen, whom Harold Schonberg likens to Don Giovanni in that “she dies for a principle” (107), is meant to be sung by a mezzo-soprano, a range only slightly higher than contralto. Carmen would have been perhaps more likely to elicit a response like Miss Furlong’s, which is that she “had a rather vulgar style of produciton,” especially since it’s possible she was played by Maria Gay. Gay was considered, beginning in 1902 with her premiere in the role, one of the best Carmens of her time. In one 1907 review, the author argues that “[i]if she were never to improve on her Carmen it would nevertheless, in the opinion of many conservative London critics, be the most commanding representation of the character since it was conceived by its author generations ago” (168) and that “her voice has an immense range. The lower register is as grand as the diapason of a church organ, while her upper notes are clear and full as the trill of a lark” (167). Another review in 1908 asserts “Maria Gay remains the only real Carmen before the opera-going public” (442).   By this time she was well established, but it’s possible in 1903 that without such widespread acclaim, Miss Furlong could have found her style vulgar. Such a critique, though, may have been more aimed at the character herself rather than the singer, although it is said that Gay ate an orange on stage before Habanera. Below is a recording of Gay singing the Habanera from Carmen.

Both Carmen and Muirgheis feature female leads, not altogether common in opera, but which nicely suits some of the themes of “The Dead.” While the story begins as Gabriel’s, the narrative is wrested from him by Gretta, who, at the end, tells the most powerful story perhaps in all of Dubliners. Like the River Shannon, named after a powerful mythical female, and which is referenced late in the story, the unnamed yet implied references to Carmen and/or Maire invoke the underlying current that flows under the story, that while the story may be about the man, it is told and ultimately controlled by the woman.

And even though Carmen may be the more well-known opera to be performed that December at the Theatre Royal, the possibility of the Irish Muirgheis adds to that polarity between European and Irish that permeates not just “The Dead,” but Dubliners as a whole. Surely it isn’t just coincidence that these two operas, one written in English and Irish and the other in French (though often performed in English), reify the recent dispute between Gabriel and Miss Ivors, which he is sulkily reviewing in his mind at just this moment. In true Joycean style, the puzzle, itself only observable by considering the place referenced,  becomes a way to read the story.

Port and Docks

This photo of the North Wall shows some of the docks and ports along the eastern end of the Liffey. Photographed by Robert French between 1865 and 1914. From the National Library of Ireland's digitized Lawrence Photograph Collection.
This photo of the North Wall shows some of the docks and ports along the eastern end of the Liffey. Photographed by Robert French between 1865 and 1914. From the National Library of Ireland’s digitized Lawrence Photograph Collection.

Not technically a place, the Port and Docks, now simply known as Dublin Port, was originally established in 1707 as the Ballast Board and has been headquartered at various places along the Liffey according to the shoreline of the river’s mouth as it opens into the Irish Sea. The earliest ports in Dublin were associated with the Viking establishment centered at Dublin Castle, and the ports have moved continually downstream as a result of the management of the river’s banks with the building of the South Wall in 1715 and the Bull Wall on the north shore in 1842. By the time James Joyce referenced the Port and Docks as the employer of Gabriel’s father T.J. Conroy, they were an organization whose main industry and activity happened along the North Wall of the Liffey at the eastern edges of Dublin:

“They both kissed Gabriel frankly. He was their favourite nephew, the son of their dead elder sister, Ellen, who had married T.J. Conroy of the Port and Docks” (179).

We never learn what T.J. Conroy did for the Port and Docks, “which was responsible for both the port of Dublin and for all the lighthouses around the Irish coast.” An 1883 Letts, Son, and Co. map shows the various yards, works, and buildings housed between the Custom House in the west and the mouth of the Liffey in the east.

A section of an 1883 Letts, Son, and Company map of Dublin showing the eastern end of Liffey between the Custom House and the river's mouth. Along the north bank are the main docks and port industrial complexes.
A section of an 1883 Letts, Son, and Company map of Dublin showing the eastern end of Liffey between the Custom House and the river’s mouth. Along the north bank are the main docks and port industrial complexes.

One of the Port and Docks’s preeminent figures was Bindon Blood Stoney, who began work at the Ballast Board (as it was then called until it was renamed in 1869) in 1856 as assistant to the chief engineer. He advanced quickly, and by 1862 he replaced his successor as chief engineer and began implementing a method he had been developing to convert half of the city’s quays to deepwater quays. According to the Dictionary of Irish Architects (linked above),

“Stoney described his method in a paper, ‘On the construction of harbour and marine works with artificial blocks of large size’, delivered to the Institution of Civil Engineers in London in 1874, which gained him the Institution’s Telford Medal and Premium for that year. The method was used for the extension of the North Quay and the construction of the Alexandra Basin and for the foundations of the North Bull lighthouse. Stoney also introduced a more efficient system for dredging the shipping channel within the harbour, designing hopper barges of unprecedented capacity to carry the dredgings out to sea. Other works which he designed included the rebuilding of Essex and Carlisle Bridges and the construction of the Beresford (or Butt) Swing Bridge. He also was reponsible for introducing a graduated pensions scheme for his workers.”

When Carlisle Bridge was rebuilt in 1876, it was renamed O’Connell Bridge, a bridge Gabriel and Gretta cross later in “The Dead” on their way to the Gresham Hotel after his aunts’ party in Usher Island, one of the westernmost quays along the Liffey. According to Dublin: The City within the Grand and Royal Canals and the Circular Road with the Phoenix Park, “[Stoney] virtually trebled the width of the bridge to match that of O’Connell Street, and levelled the approaches by substituting broad elliptical arches for the original semicircular spans” (694).

The North Bull Lighthouse, the foundation of which was constructed by Bindon Blood Stoney, chief engineer of the Dublin Port and Docks from 1862 to 1899. The North Bull Lighthouse (Graham Hogg) / CC BY-SA 2.0

At the very least, because of Stoney, we know T.J. Conroy would probably have  a satisfactory pension from his time at the Port and Docks, and Gabriel and Gretta’s crossing of the Liffey would be smooth and, as the text verifies, uneventful other than the cab occupants’ observation of Daniel O’Connell’s statue as they emerge on the north side of the Liffey. It’s perhaps also worth noting that early in the same story, we learn that Gabriel’s aunts, before moving into the house where the story is mostly set in Usher’s Island, lived with their brother Pat in “Stoney Batter” (both pictured below), an area that is labelled Stoneybatter on both an 1836 and 1883 map. Since the name appears on an 1836 map of Dublin, though, it’s not likely that the area was named after Bindon Blood Stoney. Nevertheless, the combination of the story’s references to several quays, Stoney Batter, O’Connell Bridge, and the Port and Docks makes it impossible to not encounter Bindon Blood Stoney while researching these places.

A section of an 1836 map showing "Stoneybatter" (as opposed to "Stoney Batter" as indicated in "The Dead") just north of Usher's Island.
A section of an 1836 map showing “Stoneybatter” (as opposed to “Stoney Batter” as indicated in “The Dead”) just north of Usher’s Island.

Adam and Eve’s

Adam and Eve's (Church of the Immaculate Conception) as seen from the south bank of the Liffey in Merchant's Quay. Photograph by Jasmine Mulliken, May 31, 2015.
Adam and Eve’s (Church of the Immaculate Conception) as seen from the south bank of the Liffey in Merchant’s Quay. Photograph by Jasmine Mulliken, May 31, 2015.

Adam and Eve’s, the Fransiscan church mentioned in “The Dead,” was, from 1889 on, officially the Church of the Immaculate Conception. The nickname, which predates the official name, comes from the nearby Adam and Eve tavern, where mass was held secretly during the time of the penal laws. The church, which has been rebuilt, remodeled, and rearranged several times since the initial friary was built on the site in 1615,  sits on the south bank of the Liffey between Merchant’s Quay and Cook Street and besides its dome, is rather inconspicuous from the Liffey-side entrance. It’s just downhill from the historic and very conspicuous Christ Church, which conformed to Henry VIII’s new religious code during the reformation. Christ Church saw the first performance of Handel’s Messiah in 1742 and remained part of the Church of Ireland after the penal laws were lifted. Though not as renowned, Adam and Eve’s also had a choir, and leading the sopranos was Julia Morkan, Gabriel Conroy’s aunt in “The Dead:” “Julia, though she was quite grey, was still the leading soprano in Adam and Eve’s” (176).

Adam and Eve’s is just down the quays from 15 Usher’s Island, where the aunts live and where the first half of “The Dead” is set. Just after Julia performs “Arrayed for the Bridal” for her guests at their annual party, her sister Kate brings up the subject of the pope’s 1903 Motu Proprio: Inter Sollicitudines, which forbade women singing in choirs:

Aunt Julia shrugged her shoulders and said with meek pride:

“Thirty years ago I hadn’t a bad voice as voices go.”

“I often told Julia,” said Aunt Kate emphatically, “that she was simply thrown away in that choir. But she never would be said by me.”

She turned as if to appeal to the good sense of the others against a refractory child while Aunt Julia gazed in front of her, a vague smile of reminiscence playing on her face.

“No,” continued Aunt Kate, “she wouldn’t be said or led by anyone, slaving there in that choir night and day, night and day. Six o’clock on Christmas morning! And all for what?”

“Well, isn’t it for the honour of God, Aunt Kate?” asked Mary Jane, twisting round on the piano-stool and smiling.

Aunt Kate turned fiercely on her niece and said:

“I know all about the honour of God, Mary Jane, but I think it’s not at all honourable for the pope to turn out the women out of the choirs that have slaved there all their lives and put little whipper-snappers of boys over their heads. I suppose it is for the good of the Church if the pope does it. But it’s not just, Mary Jane, and it’s not right.”

She had worked herself into a passion and would have continued in defence of her sister for it was a sore subject with her but Mary Jane, seeing that all the dancers had come back, intervened pacifically:

“Now, Aunt Kate, you’re giving scandal to Mr. Browne who is of the other persuasion.”

Aunt Kate turned to Mr. Browne, who was grinning at this allusion to his religion, and said hastily:

“O, I don’t question the pope’s being right. I’m only a stupid old woman and I wouldn’t presume to do such a thing. But there’s such a thing as common everyday politeness and gratitude. And if I were in Julia’s place I’d tell that Father Healey straight up to his face…” (194-95)

That Julia is “still the leading soprano in Adam and Eve’s” suggests that Father Healey has yet to enforce the papal rescript, but from Kate’s comment, it seems he’s ultimately headed that direction. The entire rescript, which was a papal decree independent of any input from bishops or cardinals, addressed what Pope Pius X saw as “the abuse affecting sacred chant and music.” He saw this “abuse” as an effect of the “fatal influence exercised on sacred art by profane and theatrical art” and feared and derided “that pleasure that music directly produces, and that is not always easily contained within the right limits.” Thus, to take the sin out of music, and to preserve the “sanctity and dignity of the temple,” he proposed a list of rules regarding the music of the church. One of these twenty-nine decrees banned women from singing in the choir:

13. On the same principle it follows that singers in church have a real liturgical office, and that therefore women, being incapable of exercising such office, cannot be admitted to form part of the choir. Whenever, then, it is desired to employ the acute voices of sopranos and contraltos, these parts must be taken by boys, according to the most ancient usage of the Church.

Interior of Adam and Eve's, facing east toward the altar. The Merchant's Quay entrance is to the left (north) and the Cook Street entrance to the right (south). Photograph by Jasmine Mulliken, May 31, 2015.
Interior of Adam and Eve’s, facing east toward the altar. The Merchant’s Quay entrance is to the left (north) and the Cook Street entrance to the right (south). Photograph by Jasmine Mulliken, May 31, 2015.

Like so many churches, Adam and Eve’s would have had excellent acoustics for a choir of any kind. Its dome was built in or shortly after 1900 at the same time the inside was rearranged and expanded. Today, the church even houses “the largest Catholic church organ in Dublin [which] has been described as one of the finest in the country.”

As a singer himself, any affinity Joyce may have begrudgingly retained for the Catholic Church would have undoubtedly included its music. Joyce celebrated and revered music, and his admiration for women singers is evident in the character of Molly Bloom, also a soprano, who “displayed at an early age remarkable proficiency as a singer having even made her bow to the public when her years numbered barely sweet sixteen” (16.1442-44). It’s easy to read Joyce’s own sentiments in Kate’s impassioned protests of the pope’s ban on women singing. Furthermore, Joyce would surely have noted the irony of this particular church, nicknamed after Eve and officially named after Mary, implementing such a restriction on the female voice. And perhaps it’s a counter to the papal res(c/t)ri(p/c)t that just as the church appears again in the story, Gabriel is right in the middle of imagining calling gently to his wife as she’s undressing. Actually, the church is not mentioned at all, but it’s clear from the line that interrupts his thoughts that they are just passing Adam and Eve’s on their walk from the Morkans’ house after the party:

“Like distant music these words that he had written years before were borne towards him from the past. He longed to be alone with her. When the others had gone away, when he and she were in the room in their hotel, then they would be alone together. He would call her softly:


Perhaps she would not hear at once: she would be undressing. Then something in his voice would strike her. She would turn and look at him….

At the corner of Winetavern Street they met a cab.” (214)

The couple would be walking by the front doors of Adam and Eve’s just before they reached the corner of Winetavern Street. The omission of the geographical reference (further emphasized by the ellipsis) and the replacement of it with Gabriel’s desire for Gretta subverts the power of the church and re-situates that power within the female body. Ultimately, Julia’s voice will resurface in Gabriel’s mind and Gretta’s voice will usurp the story altogether.

The foyer of the church also displays a plaque of important dates in its history, some of which include the publication of Joyce’s works.

A list of  "Important Dates" posted in the foyer of Adam and Eve's.
A list of “Some Interesting Dates” posted in the foyer of Adam and Eve’s. Photograph by Jasmine Mulliken, May 31, 2015.

Antient Concert Rooms

The Antient Concert Rooms, located at 52 Great Brunswick Street (now Pearse Street) from 1842 to 1921, is the primary setting in “A Mother” and is mentioned again briefly in “The Dead.”

Antient Concert Rooms building. From archiseek.
Antient Concert Rooms building. From archiseek.

In “A Mother,” Mrs. Kearney is unsurprised when her daughter’s skills as an accompanist are solicited by Mr. Holohan for “a series of four grand concerts which his Society was going to give in the Antient Concert Rooms” (138). This type of series would have been a typical event at the Concert Rooms, and Joyce himself even performed there in a similar program. The Concert Rooms are also used by Mary Jane in “The Dead” as the venue for her annual pupils’ concert: “She had been through the Academy and gave a pupils’ concert every year in the upper room of the Antient Concert Rooms” (176).

Antient Concert Rooms perhaps in its previous iteration as Dublin Oil Gas Light Company. From archiseek.
Antient Concert Rooms perhaps in its previous iteration as Dublin Oil Gas Light Company. From archiseek.

Before the Antient Concerts Society inhabited the premises, it was the home of the Dublin Oil Gas Light Company. Although the premises at 52 Great Brunswick Street was acquired by the Society (for which the venue is named) in 1842, the first performance at the location was not until 20 April, 1843. In his historical account of the society and its role in establishing the venue, Patrick J. Stephenson cites a notice and report of the events:

“‘ANTIENT CONCERTS. OPENING of THEIR NEW Rooms, GREAT BRUNSWICK STREET. The Committee request that all parties attending the Oratorio This Evening, will proceed by Brunswick-street, in order that the Carriages may set down with the horses’ heads towards Westland-row.’

A big attendance was expected and, judging by the Press reports, the committee were not disappointed. The report of the concert published by the Dublin Evening Mail reads as follows:

‘The members of this select and spirited society opened their new rooms in Great Brunswick-street, yesterday evening [2o April] to a large number of their friends, in a style creditable alike to themselves and to Dublin. The building is still in an unfinished state, owing to the short time that has elapsed since the works were commenced ; but when completed, will not be inferior, for the purposes for which it was constructed, to any other in Europe.

The principal room (in which the concert was given is in the Ionic style, and beautifully proportioned, being nearly a double cube of 43 feet, or 86 feet long, exclusive of the recess for the organ at the back of the orchestra, and it is calculated to accommodate between goo and i000 persons. At the extremity of the hall, and facing the orchestra, supported on metal pillars, is a light looking elliptical gallery, capable of holding two hundred persons. The massive scroll brackets, supporting the gas pendants, from the foundry of Mr. William Robinson, are particularly elegant, and the. remainder of the fittings for the lighting, by Milner and Co., of Fleet-street, are equally so. The room, besides being lofty, is well ventilated by admitting warmed or cold air diffusedly round the bottom of the room, and carrying off the foul air through ornamental openings in the ceiling, and thence, by inverted funnels in the roof, out of the building.

The The seats are supported on light-looking cast iron framing with scroll arms, and backed with mahogany, affording altogether a degree of comfort that was not known in any music-room in Dublin before. We may fairly say that when the seats are cushioned, a new organ put up, and the painting and decorations completed, it will display an appearance presenting architectural beauty, combined with comfort, such as no other hall in this country possesses, and will reflect the highest credit on the committee of the society by whom the work has been designed, and under whose inspection it has been executed.” (qtd. in Stephenson 6-7)

Stephenson provides the entire report, which continues with an account of the performances and attendees and ends with the summation, “A good concert room” (8). Throughout the years, many different musical societies utilized the Antient Concert Rooms, and the initial format for concerts, which had been “first, a short or shortened major work, such as Haydn’s ‘Seasons’, Mozart’s ‘Requiem’, Spohr’s ‘Cruci fixion’ or Handel’s ‘L’Allegro’; second, a series of songs, glees, madrigals, duets, and quartettes,” gave way to any number of program arrangements (8). The subject of concerts also changed. Originally, “[t]he first part had, as a rule, a marked sacred or religious character, and the second a profaner or lighter tone” (8). By Joyce’s time, the Rooms were not only a place to hear concerts but also the venue for events like “the spectacular Dawson-Stevenson billiards match” which took place in May and June of 1904, just a couple months before James Joyce sang there as part of the six-day Irish Revivals Industries Show (Simpson). He performed solo on the 24th and “alongside the celebrated John McCormack in the Grand Irish Concert on the Saturday evening (27 August),” as John Simpson notes in his thorough annotation of the Antient Concert Rooms as referenced in Ulysses. Incidentally, when the place is referenced in Ulysses, it’s as Bloom is on his way to Paddy Dignam’s funeral. As he looks out the window of the cab, he notes “Antient concert rooms. Nothing on there” (6.180).

Winetavern Street

Located in the ancient Dublin city center, Winetavern Street, though only briefly mentioned, plays an interesting role in Dubliners. In “The Dead,” the collection’s final story, Gabriel and Gretta are finally able to find a cab after the party where Winetavern Street meets the quays on the south bank of the Liffey where they have been walking: “At the corner of Winetavern Street they met a cab” (214). They had been unable to get a cab at the aunts’ house in Usher’s Island two quays west of Winetavern Street, which divides Merchant’s and Wood Quays. At the end of the party, the guests can only manage to get one cab, which is claimed by Freddy Malins, his mother, and Mr. Browne, so Gabriel and Gretta, along with Bartell D’Arcy and Miss Callaghan, begin walking east along the quays in hopes they’ll meet a cab closer to the city center.

Winetavern Street, pen, ink, and watercolor by Flora H. Mitchell.
Winetavern Street, pen, ink, and watercolor by Flora H. Mitchell.

The most obvious reason for the lack of cabs is the time of year and time of day. It’s generally agreed that the Morkans’ party takes place between January 2nd and 6th, between New Year’s and the Feast of Epiphany. Furthermore, when the guests leave, “[t]he piercing morning air” (206) is already making its way into the hall, and yet as the group begins their walk, “[t]he morning was still dark. A dull yellow light brooded over the houses and the river” (212). During the 2nd to the 6th of January, the sun rises at around 8:15 am, and stars start becoming imperceptible at about 6 am. Nevertheless, it is early enough still when they leave for sunrise to be a a long way off as is indicated by the need for a candle when the couple arrives at the hotel. Indeed the street lamps are still lit when Gabriel sits alone at the end of the story imagining his journey westward.

The walk from 15 Usher’s Island to the corner of Winetavern Street, according to the map, would take 8 minutes. Since a horse travels between 4 mph (6.4 kph) at a walk and 8 mph (13 kph) at a slow trot, the cab ride would have taken about another 10-15 minutes. If we imagine the entire scene at the hotel spans an hour, then the time between the end of the party and the end of the story is roughly an hour and a half. Could the party have gone on until 4:30 am? That seems unlikely. Nevertheless, that the morning is spilling into the hall at the start of the journey and the street lamps are still lit at the end of the story indicate that the group had to procure their cabs sometime between midnight and 4:30 am. Surely there would be a lack of cabs during these hours, especially over the holidays.

The photo, "Imperial Hotel and coaches, The Mall, Waterford," shows two horse-drawn cabs. Photo taken between 1900 and 1910, from the National Library of Ireland.
The photo, “Imperial Hotel and coaches, The Mall, Waterford,” shows two horse-drawn cabs. Photo taken between 1900 and 1910, from the National Library of Ireland.

But other tensions surround the procuring of cabs in the story as well. First, cabs are the only mode of transportation used in the stories following “A Painful Case.” There is a distinct lack of movement and mappable travel in the stories between that one and “Grace.” It is as if Emily Sinico’s death by train halts all travel, at least by means of apparatus. We first see a cab appear in “Grace,” as an inebriated and bloodied Mr. Kernan is being loaded into it by Mr. Power. Because Mr. Kernan can’t speak, Mr. Power must give the directions to the driver. Similarly, the first cab, in “The Dead,” the Browne-Malins cab, appears in a fog of confusion. Mr. Browne only reluctabtly gets into the cab, and then he and Mr. Malins give the driver contradictory directions. Ultimately, the driver is asked “Do you know Trinity College?” a rather insulting question for a Dublin cab driver, and told to “drive bang up against Trinity College gates,” instructions that connote a potentially bloody end to this inebriated group’s trip.

But even Gabriel and Gretta’s cab, which seems innocuous enough, is associated with threatening layers. They find the cab at Winetavern Street, a street named historically for its primary premises–taverns. According to J.T. Gilbert’s 1851 A History of the City of Dublin, the street, which was also called Wine-street, was the site of a violent fire. Gilbert cites “the native annalists record” which details the 1597 events:

“One hundred and forty-four barrels of powder were sent by the Queen to the town of the ford of hurdles (Dublin) to her people, in the month of March. When the powder was landed, it was drawn to Wine-street…,  and placed on both sides of the street, and a spark of fire got into the powder; but from whence that spark proceeded, whether from the heavens, or from the earth beneath, is not known; howbeit, the barrels burst into one blazing flame and rapid conflagration (on the 13th of March), which raised into the air, from their solid foundations and supporting posts, the stone mansions and wooden houses of the street, so that the long beam, the enormous stone, and the man in his corporal shape, were sent whirling into the air over the town by the explosion of this powerful powder; and it is impossible to enumerate, reckon, or describe, the number of honourable persons, of tradesmen of every class, of women and maidens, and of the sons of gentlemen, who had come from all parts of Erin to be educated in the city, that were destroyed. The quantity of gold, silver, or worldly property, that was destroyed, was no cause of lamentation, compared to the number of people who were injured and killed by that explosion. It was not Wine-street alone that was destroyed on this occasion, but the next quarter of the town to it.” (qtd. in Gilbert 154-55)

Though increasingly less direct, the connotations of drunkenness and disastrous injury present in the three instances of even primitively mechanized transportation after the disaster in “A Painful Case” show a wariness with the potential speed of movement. And though the cab Gabriel and Gretta find at Winetavern Street and their successful journey seems to indicate a gradual re-implementation of the evolving technology driving transportation at the turn of the century, the underlying historical connotations that are conveyed through the reference to this particular street suggest forward movement may not be re-evolving quite as smoothly as it appears to be.