In Brief

In Lotus Eaters Bloom stands at the corner of Westland Row and Great Brunswick Street, "his eyes wandering over the multicoloured hoardings," and in Wandering Rocks the image of Eugene Stratton looks out "From the hoardings." This word, unknown in America, is still commonly used in the U.K. and in Ireland. It can refer either to temporary board screens around building sites or to large boards holding ads ("billboards" in U.S. parlance). Perhaps there is some construction fencing at these two sites, but it seems more likely that Joyce is referring to the walls of buildings, many of which were covered with posters in 1904.

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The OED defines "hoarding" as "A temporary fence made of boards inclosing a building while in course of erection or repair; often used for posting bills and advertisements; hence, any boarding on which bills are posted." Judging by the citations in this dictionary, the word came into use around the beginning of the 19th century. By the time represented in the novel, it seems that usage may have expanded to include the walls of buildings when advertising posters were glued to them.

Bloom's experience in Calypso suggests that not only brick walls but even windows could sometimes become covered in advertisements. As he returns to his house on Eccles Street he thinks, "Number eighty still unlet. Why is that? Valuation is only twenty-eight. Towers, Battersby, North, MacArthur: parlour windows plastered with bills." ("Plasters on a sore eye," thinks Bloom, reflecting on the unsightliness of it all.) These ads are for realtors seeking to rent the vacant house, but it is all too easy to imagine unscrupulous bill-stickers papering over windows in other unoccupied buildings when no owner was present to chase them away.

In Lestrygonians Bloom thinks that "All kinds of places are good for ads. That quack doctor for the clap used to be stuck up in all the greenhouses. Never see it now. Strictly confidential. Dr Hy Franks. Didn't cost him a red like Maginni the dancing master self advertisement. Got fellows to stick them up or stick them up himself for that matter on the q. t. running in to loosen a button. Flybynight. Just the place too. POST NO BILLS. POST 110 PILLS." City authorities apparently have cracked down on the practice, but shady businessmen like Dr. Franks used to pay people to slap ads for their gonorrhea treatments inside the urinals, right next to the warnings not to do so, which themselves were defaced.

JH 2022
  Source: Cyril Pearl, Dublin in Bloomtime.