15 June 2011

Tomorrow being Bloomsday...

Whilst strolling by Larry O'Rourke's pub on the corner of Eccles Street and Dorset Street on the morning of 16 June 1904, as detailed in the fourth chapter of Joyce's Ulysses, Leopold Bloom pondered how poor barmen could become wealthy proprietors in a city so festooned with pubs as Dublin.
'Where do they get the money? Coming up redheaded curates from the county Leitrim, rinsing empties and old man in the cellar. Then, lo and behold, they blossom out as Adam Findlaters or Dan Tallons. Then think of the competition. General thirst. Good puzzle would be cross Dublin without passing a pub.'
It's would be a good puzzle, and if you think of crossing Dublin as taking you north-south over the Liffey and west-east across the city too, then it's not easy to do.

Anyway, this fella thinks he's got it all figured out.

It's not a bad attempt, and his thinking's pretty good, not least in his decision to use the canals as the city perimeters and to exclude hotel bars and restaurants that serve drinks. They're not pubs, and that should be the end of it.

Other than the fact that I think he should probably start his amble on Eccles Street, as Bloom would have had to do, the only concern I have is that Dublin now isn't the Dublin of 1904. Joyce, of course, famously boasted that if Dublin were ever destroyed, it'd be possible to rebuild the whole of it from his works -- his attention to topgraphic detail is astonishing, so surely to do this properly we'd want to be crossing Joyce's Dublin, not our own. We'd need a map of Dublin with only the pubs of 107 years ago on it. And, for that matter, you'd probably need to be crossing the river on one of the nine city bridges that existed 107 years ago, rather than one of the eight that've been built since.

Especially not on one built just eight years ago. Even if it is named after James Joyce.

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