Wednesday, June 16, 2021


Photo: Felix Larkin
Click on any image for a larger version

All of James Joyce's fans have the opening scene of ULYSSES embedded in their brain. Its "literary merit" usually overshadows the fact that it is a mockery of HOLY MASS enacted in a FAILED military establishment.

That military establishment is Martello Tower No.11, Dublin South, in Sandycove, later to be known as Joyce's Tower.

The Martello Towers were constructed as a defence against a French invasion which never came. There is only one case on record of a Martello Tower firing on a French frigate and that was in salute rather than in anger.

That Martello was No.7, Dublin South, situated at a serious elevation in Killiney Bay, on Killiney Hill Road, now fully restored, and from where I am broadcasting today.

Before I leave the subject of the two Towers, this Killiney one and the Joyce Tower, I'd like to record a recent find which connects the two Towers.

The Joyce Tower is at a location known as The Forty Foot, named after the 40th Regiment of Foot who are supposed to have garisoned the Tower at some point. Niall O'Donoghue, who has fully restored this Killiney Tower, recently came across a military button in the course of excavations in the tower yard where the piggery and privy used to be situated.

Niall's button is on the left above. The one on the right, a 40th Foot button, is shown for comparison purposes. Clearly the 40th Foot were present at the Killiney Tower at some stage along the way.

Voilà, a further somewhat tenuous connection with James Joyce via the common regiment in both towers.

For almost a decade, Bloomsday has been celebrated at this Killiney Tower and I'm determined to carry on this tradition today, junesixteentwentytwentyone.

I am podcasting or, as Joyce might say today were he still with us, clouding a talk I gave in this Martello Tower on Bloomsday 2018. It is a sort of stretch of the imagination appropriating Joyce to Killiney Bay with a view from Dalkey Island to Bray Head, a Head which, pace ULYSSES, is NOT visible from the Sandycove (Joyce) Tower.

I am however keeping the steal to a minimum - miniscule extracts from ULYSSES raised as flags to introduce elements of the history of Killiney Bay, where I lived for twenty years and the history of which I found fascinating.

Had he wished, Joyce could have found a wealth of material in the Bay to add to his stated challenge to the exegesist professors of the future.

While this podcast will be of particular interest to the inhabitants of Killiney Bay, there are resonances reaching beyond the confines of the Bay to the wider city and the world beyond.

Photo: Sovay Murray

(47 minutes)

And finally, for the hard of hearing, the text of the talk can be read here.

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