Among the many unpaid debts he lists in Nestor,
consisting mainly of loans of money, Stephen also lists "Mrs
MacKernan, five weeks' board." This was the name of an
actual Dublin family (though they spelled their name McKernan)
who rented a room to Joyce in the spring and summer of 1904.
According to Bowker, the wife's name was Elizabeth. The house
was on Shelbourne Road in Ballsbridge, just west of Irishtown.
Ellmann records that Joyce moved out of his father's house in
the spring (late March or early April, it would seem) and
"found a very large room that spanned the first floor of a
house at 60 Shelbourne Road, where a family named McKernan
lived" (151). Drawing on Stanislaus Joyce's diary he adds:
"The McKernans liked Joyce well enough, and allowed him to get
behind in his rent, though for a few days in June it was
politic for him to sleep elsewhere until he had scraped
together enough to make a show of paying. He stayed with the
McKernans until the end of August" (151). His residence with
the McKernans ended at that time because they "went off on
holiday and closed their house" (171).
In addition to this history's contribution to the picture of
Joyce's extensive debts and frequent changes of address, its
timing holds some slight interest for readers of the novel.
Unlike Stephen Dedalus, Joyce did not move into Gogarty's
Martello tower until September 9. For most of the previous
five months he had been staying with the McKernans. The
interruption which Ellmann references—those few days when his
landlords "encouraged him to leave until he could pay the
rent" (155)—began on June 15. Did Joyce make a connection
between his own eviction on that date and Stephen's eviction
from the tower on June 16?