Leopold Bloom saw them and there they remain

Leopold Bloom saw them and there they remain The former Sweny's pharmacy on Lincoln Place, Dublin 2 / Picture: Liffey

The novel "Ulysses" by James Joyce, which is the Dublin version of Homer's epic poem "Odyssey", explains the daily activities carried out in the city of Dublin by several characters on the 16th of June 1904, a date that was not randomly chosen by Joyce; it was that day when he met the woman who would later become his wife, Nora Barnacle. The work was first serialised in parts in the American journal The Little Review from March 1918 to December 1920 and then published in its entirety in Paris by Sylvia Beach on 2 February 1922, Joyce's 40th birthday.

The book describes in detail some places in the Irish capital to the extent that the writer once claimed that if one day Dublin had to be rebuilt from scratch, it could be done from "Ulysses”. Since then the city has changed a lot, particularly during the crazy years of the Celtic Tiger in which developers renewed, in spite of many nostalgic dubs, some parts of the old Dublin that had appeared in the novel.

Anyway, there are things that have not changed, such as the Martello Tower in Sandycove, from where Buck Mulligan goes for a swim at the Forty Foot pool, Sandymount beach, the National Library, the National Maternity Hospital, the Trinity College or the Ha'penny Bridge. The most amazing part is the commercial businesses that come up in "Ulysses" chapters and that have lasted for a long time, with some of them still remaining open in the same premises and bearing the same name. Some examples are:


The NORTH STAR HOTEL, located on Amiens Street (Dublin 1) and which appears in chapter sixteen (Eumaeus) when Leopold Bloom is looking for a taxi of that time (popularly called "Jehu"), which could be wether a two-wheeled convertible car (jaunting car) or a four-wheeled car, both pulled by a horse. In principle, Bloom wanted a jaunting car, but in front of the North Star Hotel there was only a four wheeler, probably hired by guests that were celebrating an event in the hotel. The way to order these taxis was by a whistle, but Bloom, who was very good in many things, but not a good whistler, saw how neither his kind of a whistle attempt nor his exaggerated arms movement over his head did not move the four wheeler a quarter of an inch. Update: the hotel is now called The Address Connolly.


The former SWENY's pharmacy, located on Lincoln Place (Dublin 2) for over 150 years (in 1847, it opened as a doctor's office), the place where in chapter five (Lotus Eaters) Bloom bought a soap bar made with lemon essences, which is still sold there and that can be seen in the store's show window.

Although the exterior of the premises retains all the elements of a pharmacy, now it is no longer a pharmacy but it has become a cultural centre run by volunteers who are big fans of James Joyce and where daily readings of his main books are held, some in languages other than English. Apart from private donations, this non-profit organization is funded through the sale of secondhand books and lemon soap bars.


The ORMOND HOTEL, located on 7-11 Ormond Quay (Dublin 7), is where part of episode eleven (Sirens) takes place; in fact, the bar that was on the ground floor was called Sirens Bar and the awnings bearing this name still remain there, despite the establishment has remained closed for a good deal of years.

This building has been the subject of a dispute between Dublin City Council and a Malaysian developer (the owner of Queens Park Rangers) who wants to demolish the current building and then erect a new 6-storey hotel with 170 rooms offering luxury services at low cost. In the meantime, Dublin City Council has tried to halt the project and has sent to the developer a reviewed list of planning conditions related to the long history of the building. Update: building demolished in spring 2019.


The OLHAUSEN's opened their first shop at number 72 Talbot Street (Dublin 1) in 1896, being one of the many butcheries run by German emigrants who arrived in Ireland during the second half of the 19th century. It was at Olhausen's where, in chapter fifteen (Circe), Bloom went to buy his breakfast: a packet of pig's crubeen and sheep's trotter; the man was quite eccentric...

The Olhausens trade was booming and it started to expand from just one butchery, where they employed up to sixteen young women, to opening several factories. However, despite its centennial success story, by the end of 2011, when the last economic crisis was hitting hard, they had to shut down closing three factories and sending 160 workers to the dole. Nonetheless, this did not resulted in the disappearance of the Olhausen sausages as consumers can still find them today on the shelves of supermarkets since the brand was acquired by Mallon, a historic player in the meat business along with Hafner, another company founded by a German family. Both brands, Mallon and Hafner, are two icons in Dublin's culinary history.


The DAVY BYRNE's pub, located on Duke Street (Dublin 2), just off Grafton Street, is where in chapter eight (Lestrygonians) Bloom ordered a Gorgonzola cheese sandwich and a glass of burgundy. The pub is still on the same place and bears the same name, but it has become posh and fashionable, so now, it is said that if Bloom returned there he would probably not be allowed in. It becomes one of the hot spots during Bloomsday’s celebrations, which take place to great fanfare each 16th of June.

THE OVAL pub, located on Middle Abbey Street (Dublin 1) a few steps away from O'Connell Street, appears in chapter seven (Aeolus) when Bloom visits the Freeman's Journal, a newspaper of that time that had its headquarters in the adjoining building and that some years later merged with the Irish Independent. Bloom asks for someone and he is told that that person is having a drink in this pub, that is still located in the same place with the same name.

In chapter eight (Lestrygonians), Bloom walked by the front of the BROWN THOMAS store on Grafton Street, one of the most exclusive establishments in Dublin, which impressed Bloom with its luxury items having a price tag only available to the wealthiest families in the city, including China pottery and plenty of silk products. Today, wealthy tourists are the predominant bunch within the shop's clientele.



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