Gravel path

In Brief

Not until Stephen exits his place of employment at the end of Nestor does the reader have any clear impression of where it is or what it looks like, and even then there is not much to go on. However, we know that the Clifton School where Francis Irwin briefly employed Joyce in 1904 was housed in Summerfield Lodge, a handsome old building in rich suburban Dalkey, and the house still stands. The layout of its grounds closely matches the description given as Stephen walks away, though there are no longer any lions couching on the pillars.

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After accepting the two copies of Mr. Deasy's letter, Stephen goes out "by the open porch and down the gravel path under the trees, hearing the cries of voices and crack of sticks from the playfield. The lions couchant on the pillars as he passed out through the gate: toothless terrors." There are no longer any lions, but the short gravel driveway leading from the front door of the house slopes downhill, it is shaded by trees, and it passes between two pillars to reach the street.

In front of the house and a little below it there is an open lawn accessed by a gravel path leading down from the driveway. This path too is shaded by mature trees, but the rectangular field is open to the sky. While far short of the dimensions required for an adult game, it would do well for a boys' game if some bushes were trimmed. For The Joyce Country William York Tindall took a photograph of this field with the grass mowed and a heavy iron roller parked in the rough, suggesting that it was still being used for field sports in the 1950s.

These many visual details can enrich a reader's impression of the closing scene of Nestor: Stephen "turning back at the gate" and listening to his employer's final tirade, Mr. Deasy stamping "on gaitered feet over the gravel of the path" as he marches back up to the house, the sun flinging bright coins on his back "through the checkerwork of leaves."

JH 2019
Summerfield Lodge in winter, date and photographer unknown. Source: meltthecelt-insightsofachameleon.blogspot.com.
Path leading to open field, in 2019. Source: John Hunt.
The playing field, photographed by William York Tindall in the 1950s. Source: The Joyce Country.
The playing field in 2019, now a quiet lawn. Source: John Hunt.