Monthly Archives: November 2014


    At the time that I used to meet you at the corner of Merrion Square and walk with you and feel your hand touch me in the dark and hear your voice (O, Nora! I will never hear that music again because I can never believe again) at the time I used to meet you, every second night you kept an appointment with a friend of mine outside the Museum, you went with him along the same streets, down by the canal, past the ‘house with the upstairs in it’, down to the bank of the Dodder. You stood with him: he put his arm around you and you lifted your face and kissed him. What else did you do together? And the next night you met me!

Richard Ellmann. Selected Letters of James Joyce (Page 158)

This letter was written to Nora Barnacle on 6th August 1909 from 44 Fontenoy Street, the latest of John Joyce’s homes. It was here that James Joyce stayed from late July until early September of 1909, when he brought his son Georgio back to Dublin to meet his family. Nora Barnacle remained in Trieste. The letters are amongst the most sensational words that Joyce wrote, and the quote above is from the first.

Shortly after his arrival in Dublin he met his friend Vincent Cosgrave who told him that he had been with Nora in 1904. The claims were false but they were to lead to many of the themes that appear in later works that Joyce wrote, including the play Exiles and of course Ulysses.

On the morning of 7th August Joyce wrote again following a sleepless night.

    Is Georgie my son? The first night I slept with you in Zurich was October 11th and he was born on July 27th. That is nine months and 16 days. I remember that there was very little blood that night. Were you fucked by anyone before you came to me? You told me that a gentleman named Holohan ( a good Catholic, of course, who makes his Easter duty regularly) wanted to fuck you when you were in that hotel, using what they call a ‘French letter[’]. Did he do so? Or did you allow him only to fondle you and feel you with his hands?

Richard Ellmann. Selected Letters of James Joyce (Page 158)

According to Gordon Bowker in his recent biography, Joyce visited his friend Byrne that same August day and was told that Cosgrave had lied, and was probably in cahoots with Gogarty to destroy Joyce’s marriage. John Francis Byrne lived at 7 Eccles Street, soon to be the home of Leopold Bloom and the place where Bloom is cuckolded. As ever Joyce was to weave people and places, fact and fiction together into his works.

Joyce returned to Trieste but came back to Dublin in October to set up the Cinematograph Volta in Mary Street which opened in December 1909. His jealousy did not abate and the letters he wrote to Nora got progressively more salacious.


Joyce, J. (1992) Selected Letters of James Joyce. Edited by Richard Ellmann. London, England: Faber & Faber.

Click here to see the route details on Runkeeper


The Wellington Monument, Phoenix Park.


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!

James Joyce. The Dead, Dubliners (Page 166, 167)

I ran down to see what can be seen as you look to the west from the house on Usher’s Island, the setting of The Dead. The Wellington Monument appears as the main feature on the skyline and the setting seems largely as it would have been seen at the time the story is set. As you move westwards along Victoria Quay alongside Guinness the vista widens and the monument appears smaller on the skyline.

The physical movement of the story moves eastwards towards the Gresham Hotel where the story concludes, but the background to the story and the thrust is all westwards and into Gretta Conroy’s past.

—There were no words, said Gabriel moodily, only she wanted me to go for a trip to the west of Ireland and I said I wouldn’t.
    His wife clasped her hands excitedly and gave a little jump.
—O, do go, Gabriel, she cried. I’d love to see Galway again.
—You can go if you like, said Gabriel coldly.

James Joyce. The Dead, Dubliners (Page 166)

As the story ends Gabriel realises he has to go west and confront the past

    A few light taps upon the pane made him turn to the window. It had begun to snow again. He watched sleepily the flakes, silver and dark, falling obliquely against the lamplight. The time had come for him to set out on his journey westward.

James Joyce. The Dead, Dubliners (Page 194)

In Gordon Bowkers James Joyce, A Biography (p.136) he notes that Joyce went through a sham marriage To Nora Barnacle in order to get a job at the Berlitz School in Trieste. Nora used the name “Gretta Greene”. This is obvious word play on the town of Gretna Green in Scotland, famous for elopement and weddings. It seems likely this is the source of the first name for Gretta Conroy, who is clearly modelled on Nora Barnacle.


Bowker, G. (2012) James Joyce: A Biography. London, United Kingdom: Phoenix.

Joyce, J. (2006) Dubliners, Authoritative Text, Contexts, Criticism. Edited by Margot Norris, Hans Walter Gabler, and Walter Hettche. New York, United States: Norton, W. W. & Company.

Click here to see the route details on Runkeeper

Click here to download Barry Sheehan’s research outputs on the Dublin Institute of Technology Arrow platform


   When he gained the crest of the Magazine Hill he halted and looked along the river towards Dublin, the lights of which burned redly and hospitably in the cold night. 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.

James Joyce. A Painful Case, Dubliners (Page 98)

Joyce links the train stations of Sydney Parade where Mrs. Sinico is the subject of a tragic accident and Kingsbridge, now Hueston Station, which Mr. Duffy overlooks from the Magazine Fort in the Phoenix Park as he makes his way home to Chapelizod. Joyce uses the syllables in her name to evoke the sound of the departing goods train. Joyce took the name Sinico from Giuseppe Sinico, his singing teacher in Trieste.

I ran down and around the Magazine Fort, looking down to Hueston Station. It is now difficult to see the trains as the foreground view is obscured by buildings, but by reputation there are still furtive loves taking place in the Park as darkness falls.

Mrs. Sinico appears in Ulysses on a number of occasions relating to her internment in Glasnevin Cemetery, which Bloom attended.

    He compressed between 2 fingers the flesh circumjacent to a cicatrice in the left infracostal region below the diaphragm resulting from a sting infected 2 weeks and 3 days previously (23x May 1904) by a bee. He scratched imprecisely with his right hand, though insensible of prurition, various points and surfaces of his partly exposed, wholly abluted skin. He inserted his left hand into the left lower pocket of his waistcoat and extracted and replaced a silver coin (I shilling), placed there (presumably) on the occasion (17 October 1903) of the interment of Mrs Emily Sinico, Sydney Parade.

James Joyce. Ulysses (Page 584)


Joyce, J. (1998) Ulysses. Edited by Hans Walter Gabler, Wolfhard Steppe, and Claus Melchior. Afterward by Michael Gordon edn. New York, United States: Vintage Books.

Joyce, J. (2006) Dubliners, Authoritative Text, Contexts, Criticism. Edited by Margot Norris, Hans Walter Gabler, and Walter Hettche. New York, United States: Norton, W. W. & Company.

Click here to see the route details on Runkeeper


    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 goodbye quickly and left her. A few days later he received a parcel containing his books and music.

James Joyce. A Painful Case, Dubliners (Pages 93, 94)

The Phoenix Park plays a central role in Finnegans Wake but many stories in Dubliners skirt around the Park, much as the city does. A Painful Case mainly centres around events at Sydney Parade, but in the quote above Mr. James Duffy and Mrs. Sinico endure a break up in their nearly three hour walk through the park. The Magazine Fort is mentioned in both this story and Finnegans Wake and it’s where I will run off to next.


Joyce, J. (2006) Dubliners, Authoritative Text, Contexts, Criticism. Edited by Margot Norris, Hans Walter Gabler, and Walter Hettche. New York, United States: Norton, W. W. & Company.

Click here to see the route details on Runkeeper

%d bloggers like this: