Dorset street

In Brief

"Dorset street" (pronounced either DOR-set or Dor-SET) 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 the two men exchange pleasantries, two paragraphs follow in which Bloom reflects on the pub business. During the meditation we learn that he has "passed Saint Joseph's National school," on Dorset Street Upper, so he has turned right at the corner. The school is on the west side of Dorset, so Bloom has remained in the sunlight. Gifford notes that "The National Schools were the Irish counterpart of the American public schools, although they bore more resemblance to trade or vocational schools because their emphasis was on practical education for the working and lower middle classes." Bloom's thoughts turn to the classroom: "Brats' clamour. Windows open. Fresh air helps memory."

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, which sells liquor, sits on the east side of Dorset Street, directly across from O'Rourke's. A naggin, in Ireland, is a small bottle of spirits, often in the shape of a hip flask.

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 Tyndall's photograph of the pub at the corner of Eccles and Dorset Streets, formerly Larry O'Rourke's, viewed from Dorset Street, looking toward Bloom's front door on Eccles. Source: The Joyce Country.
The building that formerly housed St. Joseph National School, now St. Raphael's Private Clinic, an extension of the nearby Mater Misericordiae Hospital. Source: Gareth Collins.
Still a pub, O'Rourke's today is the Aurora. Source: Gareth Collins.
Detail of Bartholomew's Plan of Dublin, 1900. The Mater Misericordiae hospital is at the northwest end of Eccles Street, whose southeastern end marks the junction of Lower and Upper Dorset Streets. Source: David Pierce, James Joyce's Ireland.