City Arms

In Brief

The "City Arms" hotel, located in the northwest part of central Dublin on Prussia Street near the North Circular Road, is mentioned often in Ulysses—twice in connection with "a meeting of the cattletraders' association," and many more times because Leopold and Molly Bloom lived there for parts of 1893 and 1894, when Bloom had a job with Joseph Cuffe, a trader at the nearby cattle market.

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Mr. Deasy tells Stephen that he has asked "Mr Field, M.P." to present his letter about foot-and-mouth disease to the cattletraders' group. Gifford notes that in 1904 William Field was a member of Parliament and also the president of the Irish Cattle Traders and Stock Owners Association, which held meetings every Thursday at its offices in the City Arms hotel. In Cyclops, Joe Hynes tells the narrator that "I was up at that meeting in the City Arms," a meeting which was "about the foot and mouth disease." He assumes that the Citizen will be interested.

Both Bloom and Molly think often about their days in the hotel, and of the other inhabitants: a tortoiseshell cat "with the letter em on her forehead" (Nausicaa); Dante Riordan, Stephen's governess in A Portrait, who lived there with her Skye terrier, and with whom Bloom took great pains to ingratiate himself (Lestrygonians, Ithaca, Penelope); various "country gougers" who were in town to sell cattle (Penelope); Pisser Burke (Cyclops, Penelope); a Mrs. Duggan who talked about her husband "rolling in drunk" at night (Nausicaa). In Lestrygonians Bloom thinks of how Mrs. O'Dowd, the proprietress of the hotel, served meals in a communal fashion: "Hate people all round you. City Arms hotel table d'hôte she called it. Soup, joint and sweet. Never know whose thoughts you're chewing." Molly took a similar dislike to the shared bathroom: "that charming place on the landing always somebody inside praying then leaving all their stinks after them always know who was in there last."

JH 2012
The old City Arms hotel, presently the home of the Free University of Ireland. Source: Google Maps.