After passing by Larry O'Rourke's in Calypso and
conceiving his "puzzle"
about crossing Dublin, Bloom leaves home for the day in Lotus
Eaters and immediately finds himself thinking of "pubs"
once again, this time when he imagines a young boy perpetually
waiting for his alcoholic father to emerge from them. In
addition to suggesting the sheer number of these
establishments in Dublin, Ulysses gives a vivid sense
of what a crucial role they play in the social life of the
city, for good and for ill.
The profusion of public houses, or "licensed premises"
for drinking, in Dublin was (and is) by no means atypical for
Ireland. In Have Ye No Homes to Go to?: The History of the
Irish Pub (Collins Books, 2016), Kevin Martin
quotes from a speech that temperance leader William Lawson
delivered to the Irish Temperance Society in 1902. Lawson
noted that, in 1845, the country had 15,000 public-house
licenses for a population of 8 million, but in 1902 there were
19,000 licenses for only 4 million people. Anticipating
Bloom's remark about Dublin, Lawson quoted someone from Tralee
as having told him, "If a man was blindfolded and put standing
in the centre of the street, and spun around a couple of times
and started off in no particular direction, he could not go
twenty yards without striking a public house."
Even a novel as encyclopedic as Ulysses can hardly
do justice to such a profusion of watering holes, but it makes
a noble effort. The number of pubs featured in the novel, not
counting hotels and restaurants that served alcohol and the
many "wine and spirit"
shops that may or may not have had a bar in the back, is huge.
This list, with numbers referring to chapters in which the
pubs are mentioned, is doubtless incomplete:
Larry O'Rourke's, now Eccles Townhouse, 74 Upper Dorset Street (4)
Dan Tallon's, 46 George's Street South and 57 Stephen Street (4)
(James) Conway's, now Kennedy's, 31-32 Westland Row (5)
The Arch, 32 Henry Street (5)
Brian Boroimhe House, now Brian Boru Pub, 1 Prospect Terrace (6)
Dunphy's (Corner), now Doyle's Corner, 160-161 Phibsborough Road (6)
The Oval, still in business at 78 Middle Abbey Street (7)
Meagher's, 4 Earl Street North (7, 13)
(J. and T.) Davy's, 110A-111 Upper Leeson Street (7)
Mooney's ("en ville"), now Madigan's, 1 Lower Abbey Street (7, 11, 15)
The Scotch House, 6-7 Burgh Quay (8, 10, 12)
(Andrew) Rowe's, 2 Great George's Street South (8)
(T. J.) Manning's, 41 Upper Abbey Street (8)
(Michael) Doran's, 10 Molesworth Street (8)
Davy Byrne's, still in business at 21 Duke Street (8, 17)
(P.) John Long's, 52 Dawson Street (8)
Daniel Bergin's, 17 North Strand Road (10)
(James) Kavanagh's, now the Turk's Head, 27 Parliament Street (10)
(William) Crimmins', now the Malt House, 27-28 James's Street (10)
Ruggy O'Donohoe's, 23 Wicklow Street (10)
Tunney's, now The Oarsman, 8 Bridge Street, Ringsend (10, 15)
(Gerald) Mooney's ("sur mer"), 3 Eden Quay (11, 15)
Keogh's, possibly at 32 Upper Erne Street (11)
Barney (Bernard) Kiernan's, 8-10 Little Britain Street (12, 17)
(John) Power's, 18 Cope Street (12)
(William) Slattery's, 28 Great Ship Street (12)
Donohoe's (and Smyth's), 4-5 Little Green Street (12)
(John) Burke's, 17 Holles Street (14)
The Moira House, Trinity Street & Dame Lane (15)
The Signal House, now J. & M. Cleary's, 36 Amiens Street (16)
The Dock Tavern, 1 Store Street (16)
The Brazen Head Hotel, still in business at 20 Lower Bridge Street (16)
The Bleeding Horse, Camden Street (16)
The Old Ireland Hotel and Tavern, 10 North Wall Quay (16)
Other works by Joyce feature some of these houses, as well as others not mentioned in Ulysses. Farrington's pub crawl in "Counterparts," for instance, takes him from Davy Byrne's to the Scotch House, and thence to "Mulligan's of Poolbeg Street," a pub which is still in business and proudly touting its Joyce connection. By one reading of Finnegans Wake, everything in the book takes place in the Mullingar House in Chapelizod, where John Stanislaus Joyce drank away most of the money he earned for three years as secretary to a distilling company. HCE, according to the narrative, "owns the bulgiest bung-barrel that ever was tip-tapped in the privace of the Mullingar Inn."
Many of the chapters in Ulysses show men (and only men) either gathering
in such establishments, or planning to do so, or recollecting
recent visits. Mulligan plans to meet Stephen at the Ship, but Stephen
instead drinks with his gang of pressmen at Mooney's. Bloom
imagines that the Dignam mourners will stop for drinks after
the funeral at Dunphy's,
as the Citizen and his cronies do during the afternoon at Barney Kiernan's, and as
Stephen and his medical friends do late at night in Burke's.
Bloom takes his lunch with a glass of wine at Davy Byrne's, and Tom Kernan
downs a couple of glasses of gin at Mr. Crimmin's. Other
drinking establishments that figure in the day's events—the
Ormond Hotel bar in Sirens, the doctors' commons in
the National Maternity Hospital in Oxen of the Sun—are
not technically pubs but feel like it, given the boisterous
camaraderie they foster.
Joyce enjoyed pubs as much as his father did, and the
consoling presence of these comfortable establishments in
every corner of the city radiates through the pages of Ulysses.
But the novel also glances, again and again, at the social
costs of a culture of omnipresent alcoholic availability. The
encouragement of excessive consumption by men "treating" each
other to successive rounds of drinks, the unusually high rate
of alcoholism, the occasional outbursts of violence, the
interruption of work and ruination of careers, the
impoverishment of families, the estrangement of men and women,
the incapacitations and premature deaths: all of these effects
are documented in the novel, most of them repeatedly. By
choosing a protagonist who appreciates the effects of
alcoholic inebriation but never indulges it to excess, Joyce
envisioned a path of moderation that he had scant success
practicing in his own life.