Dorset Street

Dorset Street

In Brief

"Dorset street" is a major thoroughfare in the north part of inner Dublin, running from southwest to northeast. Eccles Street, where the Blooms live, is a short street just inside the North Circular Road whose eastern end marks the junction of Upper and Lower Dorset Streets. The pub owned by "Larry O'Rourke" sits on the corner of Dorset and Eccles, while "Dlugacz's" shop is on Upper Dorset Street, farther south toward the river. Bloom's food-finding jaunt on Dorset Street in Calypso reappears as a food fight in Circe, and in Sirens the approach of Boylan's carriage to Eccles Street is signaled by the phrase, "Jingle into Dorset Street."

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When Bloom leaves his house in Calypso to buy breakfast, he crosses "to the bright side," i.e. the south side of Eccles being lit by the early morning sun, and then walks southeast a short distance to Dorset. We hear that "He approached Larry O'Rourke's" on the corner, gazing into the windows and imagining seeing the pub owner's "Baldhead over the blind. . . . There he is, sure enough, my bold Larry, leaning against the sugarbin in his shirtsleeves watching the aproned curate swab up with mop and bucket." Bloom decides to say good morning and, "Turning into Dorset street he said freshly in greeting through the doorway" (visible in the first photograph), "Good day, Mr O'Rourke."

After an exchange of pleasantries, Bloom reflects on the pub business for two paragraphs. During the meditation we learn that he has "passed Saint Joseph's National school," on Dorset Street Upper, meaning that he has turned right at the corner. The school was on the west side of Dorset, so Bloom has remained in the sunlight. Then we we find him standing in front of the butcher's shop: "He halted before Dlugacz's window, staring at the hanks of sausages, polonies, black and white." This establishment too appears to be on Dorset Street, though Gifford notes that "The only pork butcher in Dorset Street Upper, where Bloom goes to buy his kidney, was Michael Brunton at 55A." (Joyce gave the shop to a fictional owner based on Moses Dlugacz, whom he knew in Trieste.) After going in and buying the kidney, the narrative says that "He walked back along Dorset street, reading gravely. Agendath Netaim: planters' company."

As he nears Eccles Street on his return trip, "A bent hag crossed from Cassidy's, clutching a naggin bottle by the neck." Cassidy's was on the east side of Dorset Street, directly across from O'Rourke's. Other than a small distance getting from his house to Dorset Street, then, Bloom's entire journey in Calypso takes place on this thoroughfare. Since it is his go-to place for buying food, the fantasy in Circe makes sense: "Several shopkeepers from upper and lower Dorset street throw objects of little or no commercial value" at Bloom: "hambones, condensed milk tins, unsaleable cabbage, stale bread, sheep's tails, odd pieces of fat."

JH 2014
William York Tindall's photograph from the 1950s showing the corner pub that was formerly Larry O'Rourke's, looking from Dorset Street toward Bloom's front door on Eccles Street in the middle of the picture. Source: The Joyce Country.
Detail of Bartholomew's Plan of Dublin, 1900, showing the Mater Misericordiae hospital at the northwest end of Eccles Street and Lower and Upper Dorset Streets meeting at its southeastern end. Source: Pierce, James Joyce's Ireland.