In Brief

"Irishtown" is a suburb on the seacoast east of Dublin, south of the River Liffey and north of Sandymount. The name dates to the 15th century, when the English rulers of Dublin became fearful of being outnumbered by the natives and enacted statutes (consonant with the 1366 Statutes of Kilkenny) that banned Irish people from living within the city limits or doing business there past daylight hours. The natives built their own shabbier town outside the walls. "Strasburg terrace," where Stephen's Aunt Sara lives with her husband Richie Goulding and their children, is a short street or row of townhouses slightly east of Irishtown Road, the avenue that bisects the town from north to south.

Read More

Later in the 20th century land was reclaimed from the sea on the eastern edge of Irishtown, and now Strasburg Terrace is a short dead-end street running eastward from Strand Street, across from a small green. But in 1904 the sea lay just past that little strip of land, so it would be very easy for Stephen to turn northwest and walk across the sands to his aunt's house. He stops and thinks about it: "His pace slackened. Here. Am I going to aunt Sara's or not?" After imagining the scene that would greet him in the house he sees his feet heading northeast toward the Pigeon House and decides that he will not be visiting his relatives today. (Or staying the night, either. Since he thinks that he will not be returning to Mulligan's tower at the end of the day, it seems possible that he has been thinking of asking the Gouldings whether he could move in with them temporarily.)

In Hades the funeral carriages roll through Irishtown on the Tritonville/Irishtown Road and, just past "Watery lane," Bloom spots Stephen walking along the road. Watery Lane, now Dermot O'Hurley Avenue, lies a few blocks west of Strasburg Terrace, and Simon Dedalus supposes, understandably but incorrectly, that his son has been visiting the Gouldings. Bloom too wonders what Stephen has been up to. In Aeolus he thinks back on the sighting: "Has a good pair of boots on him today. Last time I saw him he had his heels on view. Been walking in muck somewhere. Careless chap. What was he doing in Irishtown?"

In Eumaeus Bloom is still thinking about the area: "things always moved with the times. Why, as he reflected, Irishtown strand, a locality he had not been in for quite a number of years looked different somehow since, as it happened, he went to reside on the north side." He decides that perhaps Stephen was paying a call on a nice girl: "It was a thousand pities a young fellow, blessed with an allowance of brains as his neighbour obviously was, should waste his valuable time with profligate women who might present him with a nice dose to last him his lifetime. In the nature of single blessedness he would one day take unto himself a wife when Miss Right came on the scene but in the interim ladies’ society was a conditio sine qua non though he had the gravest possible doubts, not that he wanted in the smallest to pump Stephen about Miss Ferguson (who was very possibly the particular lodestar who brought him down to Irishtown so early in the morning), as to whether he would find much satisfaction basking in the boy and girl courtship idea." Miss Ferguson, of course, is a creature of Bloom's imagination, prompted by hearing Stephen recite Yeats' Fergus poem. The female he is currently taken with, Georgina Johnson, is precisely one of those "profligate women."

An intrusion into section 13 of Wandering Rocks shows the two old women whom Stephen observed on the beach walking back to the south side of Dublin: "Two old women fresh from their whiff of the briny trudged through Irishtown along London bridge road." The London Bridge crosses the River Dodder about a quarter of a mile south of where the funeral cortège crosses it at Dodder Bridge. Once it has passed over the bridge and departed Irishtown, Londonbridge Road becomes Bath Avenue. The final section of Wandering Rocks makes clear that the two women have proceeded west along Bath Avenue and then southwest along Haddington Road. The penultimate sentence of section 19 finds them "At Haddington road corner," watching the viceregal cavalcade roll by on Northumberland Road from the corner of those two streets.

JH 2019
Map of Irishtown showing approximate locations of Strasburg Terrace (blue), the intersection of Watery Lane and the Tritonville Road (red), and the London Bridge Road (purple) in a 1920 Bartholomew & Son map of Dublin held in the Norman B. Leventhal Map and Education Center of the Boston Public Library. Source:
Strasburg Terrace today. Source: John Hunt.