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.
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.