Though it’s the second place referenced in “Two Gallants,” Dorset Street is the beginning of a long circuitous walking route that winds through the story. In the opening paragraphs we find Lenehan and Corley walking along Rutland Square on an August evening. Following a scrupulous description of Lenehan’s appearance and sampling of his conversation style, we learn that “[h]is tongue was tired for he had been talking all the afternoon in a public-house in Dorset Street” (50). Don Gifford’s commentary on the reference is simply that the men “would have had their choice of at least fourteen or fifteen pubs on the street in 1903” (55). Indeed both an 1892 and a 1909 Thom’s Directory list several wine, beer, and spirit merchants as well as victuallers that may have hosted the men. A few of these persisted over the seventeen-year span and no doubt others came and went in between. (And as soon as we can get a digital edition of Thom’s 1904, researchers will have access to more precise information no matter where they are based.)
Dorset Street, known prior to the nineteenth century as Drumcondra Lane, runs diagonally through the north side of the city fromDominick Street in the southwest to the Canal Bridge in the northeast. Upper Dorset Street (which is actually the southern half of the stretch) was populated by a wider variety of public houses and is closer to Rutland Square than Lower Dorset, so we might speculate that the vicinity between Dominick and Hardwicke Lane is indeed where the men have spent the afternoon and where they start their trek south toward the city center. This would put them at the start of their journey in the vicinity of St. George’s church and Mrs. Moody’s boarding house, which is in Hardwicke Street, the setting of the story following “Two Gallants.” The return to the setting of the opening of “Two Gallants” in the beginning of “A Boarding House” takes the circuitous path of the previous story beyond that story’s frame and injects something else into the way we read the opening description of Mrs. Mooney.
The stories share an approximate opening setting, but they also share a similarity of character relationships and motivations. Corley, like Mrs. Mooney, is an opportunist. And Lenehan, like Polly, is a willing participant in the other’s scheme. Completing the parallel trinities are Corley’s female companion and Bob Doran, both of whom are caught, not without some fault of their own, in the self-serving designs of the opposite sex. While this comparison could be drawn without a map, the added geospatial element introduces a kind of metaphoric utility to the movement in both stories. While the young men travel great distances, Corley by tram and Lenehan by foot, to achieve their goal, Mrs. Mooney only leaves her house to “catch short twelve in Marlborough Street” before she completes her task. In effect, Mrs. Mooney’s path, both social and geographic, is much more direct, while Lenehan and Corley’s is much more elaborate. The two young men must divide up so that Corley can get close enough to his girl to gain her trust and thus her charity. Meanwhile Lenehan must wander rather aimlessly, tracing circles through the city as he ponders his position in life.
The contrast could be a gender commentary by Joyce, but that commentary is a complex one. Is Mrs. Mooney more shrewd than Corley or more manipulative? Is Corley more willing to go out of his way for what he wants than Mrs. Mooney, or is he simply lacking the ability to apply his skills in more efficient ways? Mrs. Mooney is “sure she would win” while Corley “know[s] the way to get around [his target].” Both have confidence in their proficiency at manipulation, and both are ultimately successful. Mrs. Mooney just seems able to “pull it off” with less ambulatory effort.
The Shelbourne Hotel is a Dublin icon, and it makes sense that a work of literature named for and set in the city would make use of its connotative potential as both a temporary or transitional abode in general and a symbol of the Ascendancy in particular. The hotel has been chronicled in at least two book-length studies, one in 1951 by Elizabeth Bowen and another in 1999 by Michael O’Sullivan and Bernardine O’Neill. It has a very detailed history, but in Joyce’s time, that history was less than a hundred years old and not yet outlined in print. What would have been clear to Joyce, though, at the very least, was that the hotel was situated in an area of Dublin known for its Georgian style and well-to-do residents. What would have also been known to Joyce was the hotel’s typical clientele. Each year, explain O’Sullivan and O’Neill, the visiting viceregal court would “do the season” at Dublin Castle and would lodge during this time at the Shelbourne (8). Joyce would certainly also have been aware of the toponymic connotations of the hotel and would not have failed to seize the opportunity to imbue suggestive political overtones through the reference. The hotel, when it first opened in 1824, was named Burke’s, after the founder of the hotel and leasee of the property itself, which he added to and remodeled. But not long after its establishment, Burke changed the name to commemorate William, the Second Earl of Shelbourne, a decision that, according to O’Sullivan and O’Neill, fated it to be “umbilicaly linked, as it were, to the ascendancy” (7).
The Shelbourne appears in one Dubliners story, and it’s one that Donald Torchiana coincidentally argues “reflects the historic pomp and grandeur of Ascendency treacheries that cast long shadows behind the otherwise mean and stunted posturings of Corley and Lenehan near the end of Irish enslavement” (115). The hotel is only mentioned once in “Two Gallants,” but it would have been a significant part of the setting as Lenehan passes directly in front of the facade at least four times during the story, and it would have been in his view many other times. In fact, it’s as interesting to explore where the hotel is not mentioned in the story as where it is mentioned.
“Two Gallants” opens with Lenehan and his friend Corley making their way from the north side of the city across the Liffey to the south. This movement in itself ambulates the shift in wealth from what was once the suburban north to the increasingly gentrified and affluent southern part of the city. They soon make their way down Kildare Street, where they encounter a harpist, a symbol of native Ireland, before reaching Stephen’s Green:
“They walked along Nassau Street and then turned into Kildare Street. Not far from the porch of the club a harpist stood in the roadway, playing to a little ring of listeners. He plucked at the wires heedlessly, glancing quickly from time to time at the face of each new-comer and from time to time, wearily also, at the sky. His harp, too, heedless that her coverings had fallen about her knees, seemed weary alike of the eyes of strangers and of her master’s hands. One hand played in the bass the melody of Silent, O Moyle, while the other hand careered in the treble after each group of notes. The notes of the air sounded deep and full.
The two young men walked up the street without speaking, the mournful music following them. When they reached Stephen’s Green they crossed the road. Here the noise of trams, the lights and the crowd released them from their silence” (54).
Before they cross the street, they would have been walking along the western side of the Shelbourne, but rather than narrate that figure looming on their left, Joyce describes the men as still caught up in the harpist’s tune as they walk “without speaking, the mournful music following them.” If, as Torchiana argues, Lenehan and Corley represent betrayers to Ireland, the harp music they’ve turned their backs on haunts them and perhaps even riddles them with guilt as they slip past the hotel. Furthermore, they cross the street in order to traverse the front of the hotel on the opposite side, perhaps in an effort to escape the guilt of association with Ascendency prosperity. To name the hotel at this particular point in the story would be to undercut the power of that guilt, and so it would seem Joyce is allowing the narrator to join with the harpist in admonishment of the young men’s betrayal.
The next non-explicated appearance of the hotel occurs after Corley has broken off to meet his “slavey,” and Lenehan doubles back to get a look at the pair. After walking nonchalantly down the east side of Stephen’s Green, he crosses the street and returns back up the other sidewalk to sneak a closer look. In front of him and slightly to the left, in the background of his view of the couple, must stand the Shelbourne Hotel. As an off-center backdrop, it frames the couple with connotations of Britain’s looming presence and predatory economics at the edge of daily Dublin life. It’s a telling image foreshadowing Corley’s use of the young Irish girl for her money.
And it is just after this sneaky exchange that the hotel is finally mentioned explicitly:
“Lenehan walked as far as the Shelbourne Hotel where he halted and waited. After waiting for a little time he saw them coming towards him and, when they turned to the right, he followed them, stepping lightly in his white shoes, down one side of Merrion Square. As he walked on slowly, timing his pace to theirs, he watched Corley’s head which turned at every moment towards the young woman’s face like a big ball revolving on a pivot. He kept the pair in view until he had seen them climbing the stairs of the Donnybrook tram; then he turned about and went back the way he had come” (56).
Halting and waiting is an appropriate action to take at a hotel, a site of transitional and expectant tarrying. And so also is leaving it, which Lenehan does when he proceeds to follow the couple. But to return “back the way he had come” reflects that annual aristocratic pilgrimage of the viceroy. The route he takes to follow and return packs in yet another political connotation as it takes him just in front of Duke’s Lawn on Merrion Street. And here again, Joyce’s non-reference to the hotel is coupled by a sense of despair and perhaps guilt:
“His gaiety seemed to forsake him and, as he came by the railings of the Duke’s Lawn, he allowed his hand to run along them. The air which the harpist had played began to control his movements. His softly padded feet played the melody while his fingers swept a scale of variations idly along the railings after each group of notes.
Again, the non-reference to the hotel, a structure which looms on his right more half a block even if he turns midway away from it to circumnavigate the entirety of Stephen’s Green to avoid passing its front door, is paired with a focus on the harpist’s tune. The memory of that moment of shame or guilt when he first approached the Shelboune returns again to Lenehan as he again passes the hotel. And he very well may decide to walk all the way “round Stephen’s Green” specifically to avoid passing its entirety to get to Grafton Street, a route that would have been four times shorter than the one he chooses.
The final appearance of the hotel is again unexplicated and occurs toward the end of the story. Lenahan is making his way back to the agreed-upon meeting place, which means he must again cross from the west side to the east side of Stephen’s Green. Instead of taking the southern route, he apparently steels himself for the necessary and more direct route along the square’s northern edge, right along the front of the Shelbourne Hotel. Rather than ruminating on the emotional or psychological turmoil of the past encounter with the building (perhaps he’s already forgotten it), the narrative seems to rush through the stretch between the College of Surgeon’s clock and Merrion Street, as if hoping to sneak quickly past the ghost of guilt with her noticing:
“He set off briskly along the northern side of the Green hurrying for fear Corley should return too soon. When he reached the corner of Merrion Street he took his stand in the shadow of a lamp and brought out one of the cigarettes which he had reserved and lit it” (59).
His emotional soundtrack is no longer guilt but fear that he might miss the fruits of his friend’s plot–the money. Although his hours of wandering offer moments of possible redemption for Lenehan, by the end, as he smokes his last cigarette, he does indeed seem to have become the betrayer Torchiana, and Boyle and Walzl before him, claims him to be.
Capel Street, a typical yet rather non-exceptional shopping thoroughfare just a few blocks west of O’Connell Street in Dublin city center, appears in both “Two Gallants” and “A Little Cloud.” In both stories, it serves as an artery moving the focal characters from north to south as they walk through the city. For Lenahan in “Two Gallants,” Capel Street is one line amid a mostly destinationless perambulation, a trek that serves to pass the time while his friend Corley is engaged with his lover. And for Chandler in “A Little Cloud,” the street is one section of a mostly direct route from his office in Henrietta Street to Corless’s where he’ll meet his successful London-based friend Gallaher who is in town for a visit. For both men, Capel Street is the setting for a change of attitude.
Capel Street seems only a blip in the timeline of Lenehan’s wandering:
“He paid twopence halfpenny to the slatternly girl and went out of the shop to begin his wandering again. He went into Capel Street and walked along towards the City Hall. Then he turned into Dame Street” (58).
But it is part of a series of stretches and turns that accompany an important internal review for the thirty-year-old gallant. The lines just before the Capel Street reference show Lenehan eating a plate of peas at a pub (likely in Great Britain Street) while he considers his life, first hopelesslessy and then a little more optimistically:
“He would be thirty-one in November. Would he never get a good job? Would he never have a home of his own? He thought how pleasant it would be to have a warm fire to sit by and a good dinner to sit down to. He had walked the streets long enough with friends and with girls. He knew what those friends were worth: he knew the girls too. Experience had embittered his heart against the world. But all hope had not left him. He felt better after having eaten than he had felt before, less weary of his life, less vanquished in spirit. He might yet be able to settle down in some snug corner and live happily if he could only come across some good simple-minded girl with a little of the ready” (58).
The next glimpse we get into Lenehan’s mind is when he meets his firends at the corner of Dame and George’s Streets.But what occupies his mind for the 5 minutes the map indicates it would take him to traverse Capel Street and the additional 5 minutes it would have taken to cross Grattan Bridge, continue down Parliament Street, and then wander east along Dame street to the corner? Have the peas truly placated him, stopping all analysis and self-reflection? The exchange with his firends at the corner is described very matter-of-factly, listing the questions and answers without any embellishment of accompanying emotion besides that “[h]e was glad that he could rest from all his walking” (58). It would seem he’s also relieved to have a distraction from his self-doubts. He would rather gossip with fellow drinkers and drifters than examine his own failings and shortcomings. Indeed, it seems that after he resolves to become “less weary of his life, less vanquished in spirit,” all thought must stop lest it return to the realism of his age and lack of love or vocation.
Chandler, who is more mature than Lenehan (partly evidenced by his habitation of a maturity story rather than an adolescence story), doesn’t stifle his thoughts as he traverses Capel Street. Rather, the 7 minutes it would take him to walk from the corner of Henrietta and Capel Streets to Grattan Bridge appear in the text as paragraphs packed full of reflection.
“He turned to the right towards Capel Street. Ignatius Gallaher on the London Press! Who would have thought it possible eight years before? Still, now that he reviewed the past, Little Chandler could remember many signs of future greatness in his friend. People used to say that Ignatius Gallaher was wild. Of course, he did mix with a rakish set of fellows at that time, drank freely and borrowed money on all sides. In the end he had got mixed up in some shady affair, some money transaction: at least, that was one version of his flight. But nobody denied him talent. There was always a certain … something in Ignatius Gallaher that impressed you in spite of yourself. Even when he was out at elbows and at his wits’ end for money he kept up a bold face. Little Chandler remembered (and the remembrance brought a slight flush of pride to his cheek) one of Ignatius Gallaher’s sayings when he was in a tight corner:
–Half time now, boys, he used to say light-heartedly. Where’s my considering cap?
That was Ignatius Gallaher all out; and, damn it, you couldn’t but admire him for it.
Little Chandler quickened his pace. For the first time in his life he felt himself superior to the people he passed. For the first time his soul revolted against the dull inelegance of Capel Street. There was no doubt about it: if you wanted to succeed you had to go away. You could do nothing in Dublin. As he crossed Grattan Bridge he looked down the river towards the lower quays and pitied the poor stunted houses” (72-73).
The movement from north Dublin to south tranforms Chandler. He becomes more confident as “every step brought him closer to London, farther from his own sober, inartistic life” (73). So what is it about Capel Street that advances confidence or at least has the power to quiet self-doubt? What sights and sounds would have populated Lenehan and Chandler’s walks down this innocuous commercial corridor?
First, Capel Street is only one of two explicit references (along with Dame Street) the two stories share even though an implicit path is also common. So although the shared change of heart both men experience on their Capel Street walks suggests a kind of parallel characterization, their similar experience is perhaps more a product of the location itself than any similarity of personality. As a commercial artery, Capel street is and was a place of common utility for many Dubliners. A Dublin City development plan describes the street as “one of the most historically significant streets in Dublin City. The street formed part of an extension of the city north of the river by Sir Humphrey Jervis who built his estate on the lands of St. Mary’s Abbey. In 1676 Jervis built a new bridge, Essex Bridge [later renamed Grattan Bridge], which established Capel Street as one of the main thoroughfares between the north and south sides of Dublin City” (1). The report explains that “Capel Street was originally planned in the 17th Century for residential use,” and for a time it indeed “became one of the most fashionable addresses” (2). But the area was repurposed in the eighteenth century for commerce. The report continues, “Capel Street took on the its current appearance we see today during the 19th century. During this period retail became prominent on the street so that domestic houses at the top lost their front doors and railings to make way for shopfronts” (4). It wasn’t until the past century that “the Capel Street area was subject to urban decay” and the necessity arose to implement a plan to preserve its historic features.
Capel Street was well established but already in the early stages of its decay during the time period in which Dubliners is set. Perhaps the comfortable and long-cemented bustle served as a kind of reassuring diversion from Lenehan’s perceived individual shortcomings. And for Chandler, “the dull inelegance of Capel Street” filled the role of inferior metropolis necessary to bolster his own imagined sense of superior displacement. More specifically, the inelegance Chandler perceived became a theme for the art he could create outside of Dublin. In both cases, the moments spanned on Capel Street offer a kind of transcendence of spirit while still anchoring their occupants with a kind of inevitability of fortune. It hardly needs to be noted that such co-existence of epiphany and paralysis defines Dubliners, but it is remarkable that this ambivalence can be gleaned through a simple geographical reference shared between two characters on very different paths and in very different stages in life.
Editor’s Note: The following is a guest contribution by Julie McCormick Weng, a Marion L. Brittain Postdoctoral Fellow at Georgia Institute of Technology. Her recent publications include articles in Journal of Modern Literature and Éire-Ireland. Her essay in Joyce Studies Annual, “From ‘Dear Dirty Dublin’ to ‘Hibernian Metropolis’: A Vision of the City from the Tramways of Ulysses,’” argues that Joyce’s depiction of Dublin’s tramways redresses stereotypes of Ireland as a (technologically) underdeveloped country. Julie also serves as editor of reviews for Breac: A Digital Journal of Irish Studies.
In “Two Gallants,” the Donnybrook Tram(line) is mentioned twice. In both instances, the transportation route facilitates Corley’s duplicitous meetings with a woman.
In the first reference, Corley explains that after a chance meeting with a maid (or as he calls her, a “fine tart”) at Waterhouse’s clock, he made an “appointment” to meet her the following Sunday. Upon their meeting, they “went out to Donnybrook,” a suburb in South Dublin, where Corley takes “her into a field” to have sex (51). Not only does the maid bring Corley cigarettes and cigars that she steals from her employer, but she also “pay[s] the tram [fares] out and back” (51). In the second allusion, Lenehan follows Corley and the woman to Merrion Square and watches them “climbing the stairs of the Donnybrook tram” (56). From there, the couple travels to the end of the line to repeat their earlier sexual encounter.
Taking the Donnybrook Tram from crowded central Dublin to its more rural outskirts allows Corley and the maid to access a more intimate yet public space for intercourse. Even more, it permits Corley to further advance his plan of convincing the maid to steal more than luxury goods from her employer; rather, he aims to persuade her into taking the homeowners’ money.
As implied by the text, Corley’s philandering countryside adventures began long before his meetings with the maid. He confesses, “First I used to go with girls, you know…girls off the South Circular. I used to take them out, man, on the tram somewhere and pay the tram or take them to a band or a play at the theatre or buy them chocolate and sweets or something that way. I used to spend money on them right enough…” (52). Corley is absolutely gleeful, however, that in his latest relationship, he is the one on the receiving end. These sentiments support the opinions that Corley’s peers share about him—that he is a “gay Lothario” and “leech” (52, 50). He has a habit of stringing women along, both figuratively and literally, down Dublin’s tram tracks.
The Donnybrook Tramline that Corley and the maid utilize was established by the Dublin Tramways Co (DTC) in 1873. One of three rail companies servicing Dublin, the Donnybrook line “ran via Merrion Square (North and East), Lower Fitzwilliam Street, Baggot Street, Waterloo Road and Morehampton Road, to the terminus at Donnybrook, near the present bus garage.” James Kilroy notes that this line was known for its adoption of a “livery of ‘cream or pale yellow’” (19).
On January 1, 1881, Dublin’s three tram companies joined forces to form the Dublin United Tramways Co (DUTC), which offered about 32 miles of track and transported an astonishing estimate of around 10,000,000 passengers in its inaugural year (Kilroy 21). Indeed, in contrast to stereotypical assumptions of Dublin as a (technologically) backwards capital city, scholars such as Hugh Kenner and Andrew Thacker have claimed that by 1904, Dublin’s sophisticated and extensive tramways surpassed not just the rest of Europe, but perhaps even the rest of the modern world (Kenner 26, Thacker 127).
Because much of the population was illiterate, Dublin’s tramlines relied on symbols to distinguish the routes. The Donnybrook line via Merrion Square was recognized by two solid-blue conjoined diamonds (Figure 6). The north-bound end of the line was marked by the same symbol with a white “horizontal flash” passing through it (Kilroy 81). (Corley and the maid would have taken both these lines as they navigated to and from Donnybrook.) These symbols were phased out and eventually replaced by route numbers in the 1920s (Kilroy 84). Interestingly, Kilroy notes that although this system was one of a kind in Europe, it was implemented also in Egypt (84).
As seen in the image below, the first tramcars were pulled down the tracks by horses. These same tracks were later used as Dublin’s trams gradually electrified between 1898 and January 1901 (Kilroy 83). In “Two Gallants,” Corley utilizes the DUTC’s electric (rather than horse-drawn) tramways, which would have been a relatively recent addition to Dublin’s transportation infrastructure.
Altogether, the Donnybrook tramline serves as a route that supports Dubliners’ inner-city travel and also allows Corley’s illicit, countryside rendezvous.
Named in 1768 after Sir Gustavus Hume, M,D., Hume Street is located on the east side of Stephen’s Green and runs between the park on the west and Ely Place on the east. Mention of the street occurs twice in “Two Gallants.” It is where the “slavey” stands waiting for Corley:
“At the corner of Hume Street a young woman was standing. She wore a blue dress and a white sailor hat. She stood on the curbstone, swinging a sunshade in one hand” (54).
And after Corley leaves Lenehan alone, crossing the street “obliquely” toward the young woman, Lenehan continues past them along the park-side of the street before doubling back along the opposite side to get a closer look at her. As he passes the couple, Lenehan gets more than a look; he also gets a good whiff as the air on the corner is “heavily scented:”
“As he approached Hume Street corner he found the air heavily scented and his eyes made a swift anxious scrutiny of the young woman’s appearance. She had her Sunday finery on. Her blue serge skirt was held at the waist by a belt of black leather. The great silver buckle of her belt seemed to depress the centre of her body, catching the light stuff of her white blouse like a clip. She wore a short black jacket with mother-of-pearl buttons and a ragged black boa. The ends of her tulle collarette had been carefully disordered and a big bunch of red flowers was pinned in her bosom, stems upwards. Lenehan’s eyes noted approvingly her stout short muscular body. Frank rude health glowed in her face, on her fat red cheeks and in her unabashed blue eyes. Her features were blunt. She had broad nostrils, a straggling mouth which lay open in a contented leer, and two projecting front teeth” (55).
In general, Lenahan approves of the fume of Hume Street and casually yet inconspicuously salutes Corley, wishing him well in his endeavors. Corley plays along, waiting ten seconds before tilting his hat in response, even though presumably Lenehan’s back should be toward the couple by this time as he continues north back toward the Shelbourne. But the text indicates that Lenehan can see his friend’s covert salute, suggesting that he is looking back to scrutinize the woman from behind as well.
Dr. Gustavus Hume was an eighteenth-century surgeon and property developer. Unsurprisingly, the area of Hume Street, though on the opposite side of Stephen’s Green than the Royal College of Surgeons, was the location of several medical sites, including the Dublin Throat and Ear Hospital, listed in an 1892 directory as located at 5 Hume Street. But Dr. Hume didn’t only build medical facilities. He is primarily responsible for the building of several homes in the Stephen’s Green area, including many in Hume Street and around Merrion Square, as well as some facing the Green on the east side, such as those pictured below, that Lenehan would have passed as he observed Corley’s companion.
Prof. Eoin O’Brien, Chairman of the Irish Skin Foundation, also now located in Hume Street, explains in a lecture that although Hume was a medical doctor, his “dominating interest” was architecture. O’Brien explains,
“Gustavus Hume was elected Surgeon to Mercer’s Hospital in 1758. He was appointed censor of the newly founded Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland and was present at the first historic meeting of the College, which was held in the boardroom of the Rotunda Hospital on 2nd March, 1734. He became president of the College in 1795. Though he published a number of treatises on medical topics, the mists of time cannot cloud the dominating interest in his life – building and architecture.”
The first Royal College of Surgeons meeting was held at the Rotunda Hospital in 1784. The Rotunda is in Rutland Square, the very first geographical reference in “Two Gallants.” The movement of the two men to the area of Stephen’s Green where the RCSI eventually moved in 1810, then sets up a kind of distorted parallel wherein Corley, with surgical precision, architects a scheme to make a bit of money for himself and his friend. The slavey, whether patient or customer, is completely charmed and readily accommodates Corley, who seems to be lying to or manipulating her.
Incidentally, according to M’Cready’s Dublin Street Names Dated and Explained, Hume’s daughter and heir married Nicholas Loftus, 1st Earl of Ely, after whom the adjoining Ely Place (formerly Hume Row) was named in 1773 (35, 52). Both Hume Street and Ely Place contained a tram line according to an 1883 map of Dublin. In fact, most of Lenehan and Corley’s route follows the tram line as depicted on the map below. This raises questions about why they chose to walk (most likely the cost) and also calls attention to the part of the route they take that deviates from the line. (They choose to walk down Kildare Street from Nassau Street to the Green rather than Dawson Street a block west or Merrion Street a block east. If they had taken either of those paths, they would not have encountered the harpist.)
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
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.
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.
Editor’s Note: The following is the first guest contribution to the Mapping Dubliners Project. The author, Sarah Hoyt, is a senior at Erskine College and a student in Dr. Amanda Sigler’s James Joyce course. She graduates May 21. 2016 with a B.A. in English.
by Sarah Hoyt
St Stephen’s Green, known informally as Stephen’s Green or simply the Green, is a public park located in the heart of Dublin.
Historically, that stretch of land which would eventually become St Stephen’s Green began its life as a marshy plot. The website for Ireland’s Office of Public Works notes that the “name St Stephen’s Green originates from a church called St Stephen’s in that area in the thirteenth century” and that the area originally was used by the citizens of the city of Dublin to graze their livestock. However, in 1663 the plot of ground was decided by the City Assembly to be perfect for generating a consistent revenue for Dublin; twenty-seven acres were marked for the park and the remaining land was let after its division into ninety building lots. In The Joycean Way, Bidwell and Heffer explain that the “central portion was planted and lots… were distributed among some of the city’s more prosperous citizens. [The citizens] were not required to build, and for some time much of the south and east side was retained in agriculture and grazing” as it had been prior to its creation (140).
Nevertheless, according to Fargnoli and Gillespie in James Joyce A to Z, by 1670 the park was “enclosed for citizens to ‘take the open aire’” (196). Taking “the open aire” was presumably quite fashionable, and soon the wealthy of the city had fully taken over by moving in and claiming the location as distinctly their own. By the eighteenth century the park had been encircled by a host of Georgian mansions, and the “Beaux Walk situated along the northern perimeter of the park became a popular location for high society to promenade” (OPW).
Despite the initial clamor for residing in St Stephen’s Green by those who were rich and high-born, the park was neglected over much of the nineteenth century (Bidwell and Heffer 140). Though one effort in 1814 to beautify the park was raised, in which a “broken wall [was replaced] with ornate Victorian railings and… more trees and shrubs [were planted],” as well as “[n]ew walks… constructed to replace the formal paths previously found in the park” (OPW), overall the construction was considered a failure by the majority of Dubliners. With these improvements, the Green became a private park—in spite of the 1635 law decreeing the park “available for use by all citizens.” The 1814 move from an open to a private park “was widely resented by the public” (OPW).
Not until 1877 was St Stephen’s Green once more opened to the public. At the behest of Sir Arthur Guinness, later Lord Ardilaun, the Green was bought from its private owners and returned to the public. “[Sir Arthur Guinness] paid off the park’s debts and secured an Act which ensured that the park would be managed by the Commissioners of Public Works, now the OPW” (OPW). This done, Lord Ardilaun extensively relandscaped the park, adding not only trees and huge flowerbeds but a three-acre lake with a waterfall and a bridge, and enclosed the park in wrought-iron railings (OPW; Fargnoli and Gillespie 196). The new renovation, “[a]fter three long years of construction work” and expenditures of “£20,000” (OPW), was opened to the public on July 27, 1880. The public loved it immediately; it “quickly reemerged as a popular gathering place for Dubliners of all classes” (Fargnoli and Gillespie 196)—from the very rich to the very poor.
It is important, nonetheless, to bear in mind that St Stephen’s Green in Joyce’s time was considered to be “[a] sizable public park in a fashionable section of east-central Dublin,” as Gifford points out in Joyce Annotated (54). Knowing both the contemporary and the historical context of the park can help readers to better grasp what Joyce may have meant by inserting St Stephen’s Green into “After the Race” and “Two Gallants.”
In “After the Race,” the main character in the story, Jimmy Doyle, and his wealthy foreign friends—jubilant because of their success in the race—make their way across the park:
“The young men strolled along Stephen’s Green in a faint cloud of aromatic smoke. They talked loudly and gaily and their cloaks dangled from their shoulders. The people made way for them” (Joyce 46).
Bidwell and Heffer argue that, in “After the Race,” Joyce may be using St Stephen’s green as a metaphor to evoke the “‘corruption’ which Stephen senses pervading Dublin” (50). As Stephen’s Green is “associated with the rich and sophisticated in Dublin” (Bidwell and Heffer 125), Joyce may been seen as referring to St Stephen’s Green because he is attempting to strip the walk that the characters are taking of its illusory extravagance and instead display the underlying and repulsive corruption that lies behind the wealth of the main characters.
In “Two Gallants,” the mood surrounding St Stephen’s Green is sombre, as Lenehan and Corley—and then only Lenehan, alone—walk from the road into the park:
“The two young men [Lenehan and Corley] walked up the street without speaking, the mournful music following them. When they reached Stephen’s Green they crossed the road [to enter the Green itself]. Here the noise of trams, the lights and the crowd released them from their silence” (Joyce 54).
Although the tone surrounding St Stephen’s Green seemingly differs in the two works, the meaning in both cases points toward corruption. Here, the corruption is not so much of wealth as of “treachery” (Bidwell and Heffer 50). The fact that “several scoundrelly characters are associated with the area” bolsters this notion of treachery (50). Captain O’Shea, who “betrayed the relationship between [Charles Stewart] Parnell and Kitty O’Shea, attended the university at 86 Stephen’s Green” (50). This address was also home to Buck Whaley, acceptor of a £4,000 bribe to vote against his own political party and a “boon-companion to Francis Higgins,” who nefariously contributed to suppressing the Rising of 1798; Higgins himself “lived at 82 St Stephen’s Green” (50).
This list of scoundrelly characters from Irish history is only furthered by the actions of Lenehan and Corley near St Stephen’s Green—like the characters who lived there before them, Lenehan and Corley are scoundrels steeped in the same “decadent commingling of greed, peremptory self-righteousness, and sexual intrigue” that their historical predecessors exhibited (according to Donald Torchiana, quoted in Bidwell and Heffer 84). Lenehan and Corley’s insertion into St Stephen’s Green draws attention to the “historical associations” of “the debauchery, perfidity and false nobility” of Dublin (Bidwell and Heffer 84). St Stephen’s Green, for Joyce, is then merely another metaphor for the layers of corruption, greed, falsity, and treachery that paralyse all the characters in his Dubliners.
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.
“Cultural Heritage: St Stephen’s Green.” The Office of Public Works. Web. 14 Apr 2016.
Fargnoli, A. Nicolas, and Michael P. Gillespie. James Joyce A to Z: The Essential Reference to His Life and Writings. New York: Oxford University Press, 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.
Joyce, James. Dubliners. Ed. Robert Scholes and Richard Ellmann. New York: Viking Press, 1967. Print.
Nassau Street is referenced only once in Dubliners. It appears early in “Two Gallants” as one of the avenues Corley and Lenehan traverse on their way from a public house in Dorset Street, in the north part of the city, to the area of Stephen’s Green in the south, a journey of over 1.5 miles (2.5 km) that would take roughly 30 minutes to walk, according to the map. Nassau Street runs along the southern edge of Trinity College, connecting Grafton Street in the west and Kildare Street in the east. The young men’s path takes them past the gates of Trinity College (which face west), which they reach at “twenty after,” around the corner and along Nassau Street, and then into Kildare Street.
Although the pair have been talking and joking as they walk, by the time they reach this section of the trip, conversation meets resistance and then stops. Just after Lenehan notes the time from the clock above the college entrance, he questions Corley about whether he will be able to “pull it off all right,” referring to Corley’s looming task of meeting his girl and soliciting money from her, and Corley responds with agitation: “I’ll pull it off, he said. Leave it to me, can’t you?” (53) But “his brow was soon smooth again” and then, though they continue in silence, the text situates them on Nassau Street:
“They walked along Nassau Street and then turned into Kildare Street” (54).
The absence of conversation continues all along Kildare Street until they cross the street bordering Stephen’s Green and reach the park.
Prior to the eighteenth century, Nassau Street was known as St. Patrick’s Well Lane. The name was a reference to a well that St. Patrick, a patron saint of Ireland, allegedly conjured up nearby on what is now the college grounds. As Frances A. Gerard explains in his Picturesque Dublin: Old and New, St. Patrick’s Well Lane was thus named because “here a miracle was performed by the great Irish saint, who, moved at the sufferings endured by the inhabitants from a dearth of fresh water (the Liffey being even then in bad repute), struck the earth with his staff in the name of the Lord, and on the spot a splendid fountain of purest water ran. This fountain was crowded on St. Patrick’s Day by water-drinkers” (164). The well, which dried up in 1729, according to Gerard, was “the subject of a poem written by Swift, in which he represents St. Patrick reproaching England: ‘Where is the holy well that bore my name? / Fled to the familiar brook from whence it came'” (165). The poem features the voice of St. Patrick revoking his patronage in response to what Swift saw as the demise of morality in Ireland.
The poem was written in 1726, at which time, according to Gerard, the street was yet to be renamed in honor of King William III of England and Ireland and of the Orange-Nassau House. C.T. M’Cready suggests the name Nassau Street was in use by 1756, 54 years after the end of William’s reign (77).Although Dutch Prince of Orange by birth, succeeding his father William II of Orange, he was also the son of King Charles’s daughter Mary and challenged James II of England for the crown during the Glorious Revolution. A Protestant, he led the ultimate defeat of James at the Battle of the Boyne. His statue stands, incidentally, just west of the entrance to Trinity College, and even though it isn’t directly mentioned in “Two Gallants,” it does appear in “The Dead” as the center of Gabriel’s story involving his grandfather’s (also named Patrick) apparently Orangist horse that can’t help but walk circles around old “King Billy” (D 208).
The Battle of the Boyne further entrenched the Protestant Ascendency, and many of the street names in Dublin reflect it. Although he does not note the street’s previous name, Donald Torchiana, who explores in detail the significance of street names in his “Joyce’s ‘Two Gallants’: A Walk through the Ascendancy,” alludes to the fairly obvious connotations of Nassau Street’s name by simply remarking “Nassau Street instantly recalls the Prince of Orange, who later presided over Ireland’s defeat at the Battle of the Boyne and perpetuated the broken Treaty of Limerick” (119).
Indeed, in a story so full of geographical references, explicit and implied, political and historical, there seems to be much still to unpack. For example, is there a reason Joyce has his gallants fall silent at the approximate moment they pass what would have once been St. Patrick’s Well on a street whose name has been changed to commemorate a Dutch-English conquerer? Is it important that this silence continues as they turn into and walk along Kildare Street, where a harpist plays “Silent, O Moyle,” a song whose lines include “Yet still in her darkness doth Erin lie sleeping, /Still doth the pure light its dawning delay. / When will that day-star, mildly springing, /
Warm our isle with peace and love?”
To add a further layer of intrigue to the street’s reference, a James Joyce Centre “On This Day” post recalls the well-known fact that on June 10, 1904 Joyce met the woman he would spend his life with on Nassau Street. Whether he saw Nora Barnacle clearly or sketchily (a subject the post examines briefly), he was inspired to speak to her. He struck up a conversation with Nora and the two agreed to meet for a proper date. That date would, of course, eventually be commemorated in Ulysses, which takes place entirely in that one day, June 16, 1904, a day now widely known and celebrated as Bloomsday.
Mentioned in three of the Dubliners stories, Westmoreland Street is located in Dublin city center. It runs from O’Connell Bridge in the north to its intersection with Grafton and Dame Streets and Trinity College gates in the south. It was built as part of the Wide Streets Commissioners’ “bold geometric plan” to “link … the new N[orth]-S[outh] artery of Upper Sackville Street [now O’Connell Street] and Carlisle Bridge [now O’Connell Bridge] to the Portico of the House of Lords and the N[orth] pavilion of Trinity College entrance front” (Casey 420). As Christine Casey describes in her book Dublin: The City within the Grand and Royal Canals and the Circular Road with the Phoenix Park,
“[The plan] resulted from an extraordinary sequence of events in 1781-2, which included the foundation of the new Custom House, the securing of funds for the long-awaited eastern bridge and the commissioning of the Lords’ extension from James Gandon. Three years laters the commissioners instructed Thomas Sherrard to consult James Wyatt on the ‘distribution of ground for building from Sackville Street to the College.’ No designs by Wyatt are recorded, but in the following year Gandon prepared unexecuted designs for Sackville Street that proposed a unified elevation with ground-floor shops. Carlisle Bridge was opened to pedestrians in 1792 and in the following year Sherrard was instructed to prepare plans for Westmoreland Street. These too were unexecuted, due to the outbreak of war with France. The situation was resolved in 1799 when the proceeds of a clubhouse tax were allocated to the Commissioners. In that year designs by Henry Aaron Baker were approved and demolition began in the area, described as ‘thickly sown with alleys and courts’. Baker initially proposed a street 60 ft (18.2 metres) wide flanked by terraces with Doric colonnades and arched shop-windows. In the eent the colonnades were omitted and the street gained 30 ft (9.1 metres) in breadth. Building began in 1799 and was complete by 1805” (420).
Casey notes that “[c]ontemporaries complained of the streets’ ‘width…bleakness…gloomy and monstrous aspect’ as compared with traditional shopping thoroughfares such as Grafton Street,” but that “these unified street facades have met with universal acclaim from historians for their functionalism and restraint, which finds parallels in contemporary Parisian commercial design and in the domestic terraces of Adam and Dance” (421). Casey’s description continues with detailed historical architectural information on each structure lining the street.
Westmoreland Street is one of many Dublin Streets named after Lords Lieutenant. The 1892 Dublin Street Names, Dated and Explained lists the street as being named in 1801 after John Fane, 10th Earl of Westmorland and Lord Lieutenant of Ireland from 1790 to 1794 (M’Cauley 141).
The first appearance of Westmoreland Street is in “Two Gallants.” Although the two young men would have walked along the street as part of their route from the north side of the city to the south, and Lenehan would have returned to retrace his steps northward along the same path, the only direct reference to the street is made by an unnamed minor character later in the story. As Lenehan stops to talk with some friends he oncounters at the corner of Dame and George’s Streets, one of them mentions Westmoreland Street, where Lenahan would have been only an hour or two previously:
“One said that he had seen Mac an hour before in Westmoreland Street. At this Lenehan said that he had been with Mac the night before in Egan’s. The young man who had seen Mac in Westmoreland Street asked was it true that Mac had won a bit over a billiard match. Lenehan did not know: he said that Holohan had stood them drinks in Egan’s” (D 58).
The party essentially discusses their friend Mac and his presence at two places: last night he was in Egan’s, a pub off of Sackville (now O’Connell) Street just north of the Liffey, and an hour ago he was in Westmoreland Street, which is what O’Connell Street becomes south of the Liffey. Both O’Connell and Westmoreland Street are part of Lenehan’s route though neither are actually mentioned in that context in the story.
The street appears again in “Counterparts,” as it serves as a convenient path for Farrington’s pub crawl. Travelling from Temple Bar to Davy Byrne’s, he must take Westmoreland Street, which is the eastern border of the Temple Bar area, to Grafton Street. As he walks, we are given a description of the bustle along the route:
“In Westmoreland Street the footpaths were crowded with young men and women returning from business and ragged urchins ran here and there yelling out the names of the evening editions. The man passed through the crowd, looking on the spectacle generally with proud satisfaction and staring masterfully at the office-girls. His head was full of the noises of tram-gongs and swishing trolleys and his nose already sniffed the curling fumes of punch” (93).
At this time of day, as Farrington is leaving work, the street, which connects Temple Bar with Dame Street and Grafton Street and O’Connell Bridge, would indeed be filled with Dubliners moving between business, commercial, and residential areas of the city.
The final reference to Westmoreland Street appears in “Grace,” a story that clearly contains movement from one the pub to the residence of Tom Kernan, although the route is vague and only indirectly marked by geographical indicators. As the cab carrying a drunk and bloodied Kernan moves away from the bar, it “dr[ives] off towards Westmoreland Street” (153). The bar is located somewhere off of Grafton Street and may very well be Davy Byrne’s, where Farrington has been drinking in “Counterparts.” In any case, Kernan’s northward movement along Westmoreland Street is a reversal of Farrington’s southward path as he is only just beginning his revels.
In general, Westmoreland Street serves as a link from north to south in Dubliners. It’s a bustling yet primarily utilitarian link between settings, a place to see and be seen, alive with motion and the movement of characters.
When a modern-day Dubliner refers to Merrion Street, it’s likely she’s referring to, in general, the Irish government. The Irish Government Buildings are located in Merrion Street, part of which, as it extends northward, forms the western edge of Merrion Square as Merrion Square West, where the Leinster House is located. However, in 1906, by the time Joyce finished “Two Gallants,” the only story that references the street, the street was markedly different. It did not house the Government Buildings. It was lined on both sides with Georgian houses, all of which had only sprung up since the Leinster House had been built in 1748 for the Earl of Kildare, who became the Duke of Leinster in 1766. Prior to the construction of the mansion, affluent Dubliners generally lived north of the Liffey. But the Leinster House (originally the Kildare House) established the south part of Dublin, especially the area of Merrion Square, as the more desirable and elite neighborhood for the wealthy. In fact, Donald Torchiana argues that “Two Gallants” references many places that “reflect[…] the historic pomp and grandeur of Ascendency treacheries that cast long shadows behind the otherwise mean and stunted posturings of Corley and Lenehan near the end of Irish enslavement” (115).
Merrion Street first appears in the story in reference to the planned meeting place for Lenehan and Corley once Corley finishes his business with the “slavey:”
“–And after? Where will we meet?
–Half ten, answered Corley, bringing over his other leg.
–Corner of Merrion Street. We’ll be coming back.
–Work it all right now, said Lenehan in farewell.” (55)
After Corley leaves Lenehan alone, Lenahan watches his friend greet the young woman and spies on them for a while until they catch a tram from the square. The street they walk along is Merrion Square West, which is what Merrion Street becomes when it reaches the southwest corner of the square from the south. Thus, Lenehan would have his back to Merrion Street as he followed the couple north along the square.
“Lenehan walked as far as the Shelbourne Hotel where he halted and waited. After waiting for a little time he saw them coming towards him and, when they turned to the right, he followed them, stepping lightly in his white shoes, down one side of Merrion Square” (56).
Torchiana explains “[a] house [in Merrion Square] … was an almost certain entré into high society in the 18th century” (123). Corley’s girl is said to be a “slavey,” which the Oxford English Dictionary defines as “[a] female domestic servant, esp. one who is hard-worked; a maid of all work.” No doubt she works in one of the houses on the square or in Merrion Street.
For the next couple hours, Lenahan back-tracks along his previous route with Corley and wanders through Dublin contemplating his circumstances and paralysis and potential. Just after ten he returns to Merrion Street to find out whether or not his friend had been successful:
“When he reached the corner of Merrion Street he took his stand in the shadow of a lamp and brought out one of the cigarettes which he had reserved and lit it. He leaned against the lamp-post and kept his gaze fixed on the part from which he expected to see Corley and the young woman return” (59).
He waits longer than he feels he should have to, and when he finally sees his friend, he has “[a]n intimation” of failure. He assumes Corley was not able to get the money.
In 1904 the demolition of some of the Georgian houses along the west side of Merrion Street was only just beginning. By 1922, they would be replaced by the The Royal College of Science for Ireland. Both the Leinster House and the College would become government facilities by 1926. At the time Lenehan and Corley use the street as their point of separation and reunion, it was somewhat in transition but not yet as strongly associated with Irish, or even British, government as it is today. So while the reference was not necessarily politically charged, it certainly carried economic implications at the time of its writing and publication.