Dolphin's Barn

Dolphin's Barn

In Brief

"Dolphin's Barn" is an area on the southwest edge of inner city Dublin, named for the Dolphyn family who apparently had a barn there when it had not yet been swallowed by the metropolis. Molly was living in this suburb with her father when she and Bloom first met, and he remembers being with her at a party "In Luke Doyle's long ago. Dolphin's Barn, the charades." The encounter at the Doyle family house was one of their earliest meetings, and after the charades Bloom kissed her. Dolphin's Barn also figures in the Martha Clifford intrigue, because that is where she receives mail, and possibly lives. And it has a Jewish connection: Dublin's Orthodox Jewish cemetery has been located there on Aughavannagh Road since 1898.

Read More

Ithaca gives Brian Tweedy's address in Dublin as "Rehoboth, Dolphin's Barn." This might refer to several different streets in the area (Rehoboth Avenue, Rehoboth Terrace, and Rehoboth Place are all present-day addresses, and Gifford mentions a Rehoboth Road), but Molly pins it down in Penelope: "the first night ever we met when I was living in Rehoboth terrace we stood staring at one another for about 10 minutes as if we met somewhere."

That first meeting was almost certainly at Mat Dillon's house, but Bloom also thinks of Molly staring at him as he enacted Rip Van Winkle in the charades at Luke Doyle's place: "Rip van Winkle we played. Rip: tear in Henny Doyle's overcoat. Van: breadvan delivering. Winkle: cockles and periwinkles. Then I did Rip van Winkle coming back. She leaned on the sideboard watching. Moorish eyes." In Penelope Molly remembers "the night he kissed my heart at Dolphins barn I couldn't describe it simply makes you feel like nothing on earth." Ithaca observes that this consequential encounter kept Bloom up all night: "Once, in 1887, after a protracted performance of charades in the house of Luke Doyle, Kimmage, he had awaited with patience the apparition of the diurnal phenomenon, seated on a wall, his gaze turned in the direction of Mizrach, the east."

It is certainly interesting that "Martha Clifford" lives (or purports to do so) in the same part of town where Molly took an early interest in Bloom's intellectual qualities and where he gave her an early, memorable kiss. After "wading through fortyfour" replies to his want ad for a "smart lady typist to aid gentleman in literary work," as he recalls in Lestrygonians, did Bloom initiate a correspondence with this woman because her address suggested an opportunity to go back to the happy early days of his relationship with Molly? Or is it a mere coincidence, owing perhaps to the fact that this one woman was willing to undertake increasingly risqué correspondence with an unknown purported employer who does not act very much like a "gentleman"?

Kimmage is a separate suburb nearly a mile south of Dolphin's Barn. It is not clear why Joyce should have located Doyle in both places, though perhaps he had in mind an address located somewhere in between. In The Chronicle of Leopold and Molly Bloom, John Henry Raleigh observes that Clive Hart and Leo Knuth "say there was a real Luke Doyle, a building surveyor, who lived at Camac Place, more properly described as being in Dolphin's Barn, rather than in Kimmage" (85). The fictional couple at that address were "Luke and Caroline Doyle," whom Ithaca mentions as having given the Blooms a wedding present. "Henny Doyle," whose torn overcoat Bloom used as a charades clue, may have been one of their grown children, or perhaps Luke's brother. Molly thinks of him in Penelope as "an unlucky man" who was always "breaking or tearing something in the charades."

JH 2017
The Dolphin's Barn area, in a detail from Hanni Bailey's simplified street map of greater Dublin. Source: Chester Anderson, James Joyce.
Rehoboth Terrace in the Dolphin's Barn area, just north of the Grand Canal. Source: John Henry Raleigh, The Chronicle of Leopold and Molly Bloom.
Lime works, Dolphin's Barn, Dublin, a 1931 watercolor painting by Irish artist Harry Kernoff. Source: