Irish Race Memory - William Rooney and James Joyce
As part of our 2024 Bloomsday celebrations we reflect
on the influence of William Rooney on James Joyce
Stacks Image 1710
Joyce’s showdown with William Rooney was about the poetic language that holds Irish Race Memory. Joyce did not fabricate he wrote from lived experience. Finnegans Wake is defined by the confrontation between Shem and Shaun. Shem like Joyce himself is defined by Singular Brilliance. Shaun is the conduit to Irish Race Memory which is alive in the dream language. William Rooney was dedicated to recreating Irish Cultural identity and together with Arthur Griffith published the ‘United Irishman’ between 1899 and 1906. Rooney wrote encyclopaedic articles mapping Irish Literature.

William Rooney was a strong advocate of renewal of the Irish language however in February 16, 1901 when he wrote a review of Douglas Hyde’s First Book, “Leabhar Sgeulaigheachta” he took a strong stance against dialect in the writing of “Munster Tales” by Paidin O’Dalaigh. “It is a pity that the author’s religious observance of every little peculiarity of dialect has made him stick rigidly to the accents of his own neighbourhood, for the fact may prevent the book from becoming as popular as it might in districts where the language has, perhaps, not preserved all the copiousness claimed for Beara and Bantry.”

Language without ‘vernacular’ truth was an anathema to Joyce and William Rooney within his Irish language journey did not value this vital aspect. Dublin’s Dante as Joyce was known understood cultural identity as inherent in dialect.

When William Rooney died at 27 “Poems and Ballads of Rooney” was published posthumously in 1903. Joyce was commissioned to write a review in ‘The Daily Express’. Joyce who revered the poetry of James Clarence Mangan found no poetic truth in Rooney’s poems “a weary succession of verses… they have no spiritual or living energy because they come from one in whom the spirit is in a manner dead”

Joyce’s review was devastating for Arthur Griffith and the Irish Nationalist movement who revered Rooney. Joyce at a formative stage in his own journey as a writer was expressing a ferocious commitment to poetic truth. The next year Joyce went into exile and would go on to write “Ulysses” and “Finnegans Wake” but he kept a copy of “Poems and Ballads of William Rooney” in his library. “Finnegans Wake” would bring an Irish tribal identity to life in the timelessness of poetic language and heal the chasm created by his condemnation of William Rooney.
Stacks Image 1718
Image top of page William Rooney. Image above William Rooney on the cover of a supplement in 'The United Irishman'
Stacks Image 1724
Stacks Image 1589
BLOOMSDAY is the 16th of June 1904 and is the day on which all the action of James Joyce’s novel Ulysses takes place. “Ulysses” by James Joyce was published in Paris in 1922 and every year around the world people gather to read aloud extracts from a book.
1904 map of Joyce's Dublin - 24 locations with page references to "Ulysses"
Stacks Image 1471
James Joyce Cultural Centre
35 North Great George’s Street

The permanent exhibit includes the door to number 7 Eccles Street, home of Leopold and Molly Bloom .
"I want to give a picture of Dublin so complete that if the city suddenly disappeared from the earth it could be reconstructed out of my book." - James Joyce in conversation with Frank Budgen.
Belvedere College
Great Denmark Street
belvedere college

James Joyce attended Belvedere from 1893-98. In “A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man” Joyce has his fictional counterpart, Stephen Dedalus, ruminate on the prospect of becoming a Jesuit while at Belvedere.
St George’s Church
Hardwicke Place

3 st georges church
James Joyce includes St. George’s Church and its bell-ringing in “Ulysses”. The bells “ tolled the hour: loud dark iron. Heigho! Heigho! Heigho!"
Number 7 Eccles Street

The home of Leopold and Molly Bloom and where Bloom begins and ends his wanderings in Ulysses. Joyce visited this house when he went to see his friend John Francis Byrne who lived here in 1909.
Read Breakfast at 7 Eccles Street ULYSSES CALYPSO 65-85
Glasnevin Cemetery

Paddy Dignam and Michael Cusack (the Citizen) are buried here and Joyce’s father John Stanislaus Joyce. “Mr Bloom walked unheeded along his grove by saddened angels, crosses, broken pillars, family vaults, stone hopes praying with upcast eyes, old Ireland's hearts and hands.”.
Read Dignams’s Funeral ULYSSES HADES 107-147
Gresham Hotel
23 Upper O’Connell Street
The location for the final part of Joyce’s beautiful short story “The Dead” “His soul had approached that region where dwell the vast hosts of the dead. He was conscious of, but could not apprehend, their wayward and flickering existence. His own identity was fading out into a grey impalpable world…”
The Joyce Statue
North Earl Street

In the Heart of the Hibernian Metropolis there is a life-sized statue of James Joyce just off O’Connell Street and near to the GPO. Erected in 1990, the statue, was created by US sculptor Marjorie Fitzgibbon.
O’Connell Bridge

Leopold Bloom stops on O’Connell Bridge to feed the seagulls Banbury cakes. Here you cross over the River Liffey which was immortalized as Anna Livia Plurabelle in “Finnegans Wake”.
Read Lunchtime in Dublin ULYSSES LESTRYGONIANS 190-234
Night Town
James Joyce Street
James Joyce Street was originally called Mabbot Street which was the entrance to the red light ‘Monto’ area in Dublin. It is the setting of the Circe episode in Ulysses.The Mabbot street entrance of nighttown, before which stretches an uncobbled tram-siding set with skeleton tracks, red and green will-o’-the-wisps and danger signals.
Read The brothel at the bewitching hour ULYSSES CIRCE 561-703
Cabman’s Shelter
Butt Bridge
In the Eumaeus episode in Ulysses, Bloom and Stephen stop at the cabman’s shelter, just north of the Liffey, for a bite to eat and a cup of coffee. It is patronized by a ‘miscellaneous collection of waifs and strays and other nondescript specimens’. It no longer exists.
Read Cabman's shelter ULYSSES EUMAEUS 704-776
North Wall Quay

This is where James Joyce and Nora Barnacle left Ireland on October 8th, 1904. It is also the setting for the short story “Eveline” from Dubliners. “She stood among the swaying crowd in the station at the North Wall. He held her hand and she knew that he was speaking to her, saying something about the passage over and over again” .
Sweny’s Chemist
1 Lincoln Place

Leopold Blooom goes to Sweny's to order some orange flower and whitewax skin lotion for his wife. He also picks up a bar of lemon soap, promising Mr Sweny to come back later to pay - a promise he forgets to keep.
Read Henry Flower ULYSSES LOTUS-EATERS 85-107
The National Maternity Hospita
l |
Holles Street

Stephen Dedalus in drunken late night conversation with three medical students (Dixon, Lynch, and Madden). Mr. Bloom arrives to enquire about Mrs. Purefoy, who has been in labour for three days and rescues Stephen.
Read Holles Street Hospital ULYSSES OXEN OF THE SUN 499-561
Finn’s Hotel
Leinster Street
On the afternoon of the 10th of June 1904, James Joyce first laid eyes on his future wife Nora Barnacle as she stepped out of Finn’s Hotel where she worked as a chamber maid. They had their first date six days later and he cast the action of Ulysses on that day, 16 June.
The National Library
Kildare Street
This beautiful building, designed by Thomas Newenhan Dean, is featured prominently in the Scylla and Charybdis episode in Ulysses.
Read The National Library ULYSSES SCYLLA AND CHARYBDIS 235-280
Davy Byrnes
21 Duke Street
Davy Byrnes PUB
Bloom enjoyed lunch here, a gorgonzola sandwich and a glass of Burgundy wine. “Tom Kernan can dress. Puts gusto into it. Pure olive oil. Milly served me that cutlet with a sprig of parsley. Take one Spanish onion. God made food, the devil the cooks.”.
Read Lunchtime in Dublin ULYSSES LESTRYGONIANS 190-234
UCD Newman House
85–86 St. Stephen’s Green
newman house

James Joyce was a student here before graduating with a BA in 1902. It features in A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man. It is now the site of MOLI, The Museum of Literature Ireland.
Volta Cinema
Mary Street
volta cinema

James Joyce visiting from Trieste founded the Volta Cinema, Ireland’s first dedicated cinema on Mary Street in 1909. It opened on Monday 20 December, 1909 to a select audience.
Barney Kiernan’s Pub
8-10 Little Britain Street

The pub is the scene for the Cyclops episode in Ulysses where we meet the Citizen, based on the real-life character of Michael Cusack, founder of the Gaelic Athletic Association (GAA).”So we turned into Barney Kiernan’s and there, sure enough, was the citizen”.
Read Kiernan's Pub ULYSSES CYCLOPS 376-449
Ormond Hotel
7-11 Upper Ormond Quay
Bloom carefully avoids being seen by Boylan as he enters the dining room of the Ormond Hotel and absorbed in listening to the fine musicianship on the piano decides it must be Father Cowley.
Read Concert at the Ormond Hotel ULYSSES SIRENS 328-376
The Dead House
15 Usher’s Island
dead house

The house at 15 Usher’s Island is the setting for the Morkan Sisters’ annual Christmas party in the short story “The Dead”. The setting is based on the actual home of maternal aunts of Joyce’s mother, known as the Misses Flynn. The house faces on to the James Joyce Bridge which was opened on 16 June, 2003.
Sandymount Strand
sandymount sound

Stephen Dedalus takes a morning walk on Sandymount Strand. In the evening Leopold Bloom watches the colourful display from the Mirus Bazaar fireworks with Gertie McDowell. “Am I walking into eternity along Sandymount strand?“.
Read Stephen on Sandymount Strand ULYSSES PROTEUS 45-64
Sandycove Tower
martello tower

Ulysses begins in the Martello Tower in Sandycove, just south of Dublin, at 8:00 am on the morning of June 16th, 1904. Buck Mulligan calls to his friend Stephen Dedalus to come join him in the morning air. "Stately, plump Buck Mulligan came from the stairhead, bearing a bowl of lather on which a mirror and a razor lay crossed.".
Read Breakfast at the Martello Tower ULYSSES TELEMACHOS 1-28
The School
Summerfield, Dalkey Avenue
Stephen Dedalus is a teacher in Mr. Deasy’s school for boys in Dalkey. Mr. Deasy asserts that Stephen was ‘not born to be a teacher’. Stephen agrees, claiming that he’s ‘a learner rather’.
Read Stephen at school ULYSSES NESTOR 28-45