Seven Eccles street

Seven Eccles street

In Brief

When Bloom stands on the doorstep of his house in Calypso, feeling in his hip pocket and carefully leaving the door ajar because he has forgotten the latch key "In the trousers I left off" from the previous day and does not want to disturb his wife by opening the "Creaky wardrobe," neither he (realistically) nor the narrator (artfully) thinks to mention where in Dublin he is. Later in the chapter, when he returns from the butcher shop, the narrative notes that "he turned into Eccles street, hurrying homeward." But the precise address of the Blooms' house, 7 Eccles (pronounced ECK-əls, or alternatively ECK-ləs), is not identified until many chapters later.

Read More

Gifford notes that "Eccles Street in 1904 was regarded as a sedate and respectable neighborhood, solidly middle class and not at all shabby as what is left of it today is" (70). It lies in the north part of inner Dublin, near the North Circular Road. Joyce became aware of the row of townhouses on its eastern end when he visited his friend J. F. Byrne in Dublin in 1909. Byrne lived at 7 Eccles Street. In 1904 the house was unoccupied, allowing Joyce's fictional protagonist to move in.

In Wandering Rocks an unnamed woman, having opened a window sash to fling a coin to a beggar and inadvertently dislodged a card that was displayed on the sash, puts the card back in its place: "A card Unfurnished Apartments reappeared on the windowsash of number 7 Eccles street." 7 Eccles was one of a row of three-story brick houses on the north side of the street. This passage supplies an address but not the names of the people who live there. Only later still will it become clear that the unnamed woman was Mrs. Bloom. Once again, the unschooled reader is given some information, but not enough.

Ithaca, which is so scrupulous about providing identifying information and tying up loose ends, affirms three times that Mr. Leopold Bloom resides at the address mentioned in Wandering Rocks. It is first described mathematically, in the manner of a man counting the doorways on his side of the block: "At the housesteps of the 4th of the equidifferent uneven numbers, number 7 Eccles street, he inserted his hand mechanically into the back pocket of his trousers to obtain his latchkey." (The key is still not there.)

The address is also mentioned by comparison to a grander abode: "Could Bloom of 7 Eccles street foresee Bloom of Flowerville?" And it is mentioned by comparison to having no abode at all: "5 pounds reward, lost, stolen or strayed from his residence 7 Eccles street, missing gent about 40, answering to the name of Bloom, Leopold (Poldy), height 5 ft 9 1/2 inches, full build, olive complexion, may have since grown a beard."

The house at 7 Eccles Street, alas for Joyce pilgrims around the world, was demolished in 1967. But John Ryan, the Dublin artist and man of letters who organized the first Bloomsday in 1954, rescued the front door and its surrounding masonry and installed it in The Bailey pub which he had purchased in 1957 and made a hangout for writers. In 1995 the doorway was moved to the James Joyce Centre, a museum in an elegant Georgian house at 35 North Great George's Street.

Very recently the door was reunited with its knocker, which a New Yorker named Fredric Seiden, visiting Dublin and making a pilgrimage to 7 Eccles, removed when he realized that the house was soon to be torn down. The James Joyce Centre flew Seiden from New York to Dublin in June 2013 to return the loud proud knocker to its place of honor.

John Hunt 2014
Flora H. Mitchell's painting of 7 Eccles Street in the 1960s. Reproduced in David Pierce's James Joyce's Ireland (Yale University Press, 1992), courtesy of the University of Southern Illinois Library.
April 2008 photograph by Pointillist of the 7 Eccles Street doorframe displayed in the yard at the back of the James Joyce Centre. Source: Wikimedia Commons.