Sun. May 29th, 2022

In celebrating the centenary of the publication of James Joyce’s Ulysses (Life & ArtsJanuary 22), Colm Tóibín and Miles Ellingham point out that such rejoicing was not ever home.

In 1981, a year before the centenary of Joyce’s birth, I was on placement in the library of his alma mater, University College Dublin, where my enthusiasm for “shame’s voice” was considered “very American”. I’m not.

Unlike the literary coves who drunkenly failed to arrive home on that first Bloomsday odyssey on June 16, 1954, my own walks around the “fair city” did take me to the locus, the start and finish of Leopold Bloom’s day.

This was despite the fact it was not the best time to be a very English-sounding stroller (stroller) when the IRA prisoner and MP for Fermanagh and South Tyrone, Bobby Sands, was dying on hunger strike in Northern Ireland.

Nonetheless, like Bloom, I made it home to 7 Eccles Street. The Dublin tenement was in an advanced state of dilapidated neglect. The Georgian front door had been ripped out and corrugated iron filled the wound that was left. On it someone had helpfully sprayed the legend “Molly woz here”.

I love to think the old artificer, paring his fingernails, would have approved mightily.

Joe Keaney
Manchester, UK

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