Westland Row

Westland Row

In Brief

Nearly all of Lotus Eaters takes place on or within one block of "Westland row," a street that runs along the eastern edge of the campus of Trinity College, Dublin. In 1904 it was an important thoroughfare, featuring one of the city's four major train stations, a beautiful Catholic church, an elegant small hotel, and a post office. (The hotel and the post office are gone now, but the train station and the church remain.) In the second paragraph Bloom looks in the window of a tea company not far from the street's north end. Shortly after, he visits the post office and the church. Near the chapter's conclusion he enters a pharmacy at the south end of the street to buy some soap and skin lotion.

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The "Belfast and Oriental Tea Company" was located at 6 Westland Row in the shadow of the Loopline Bridge overpass which carried trains between the station and another major station on Amiens Street. Bloom contemplates the "leadpapered packets" in the shop's window, thinks of buying some tea from Tom Kernan (who works for the rival

Pullbrook, Robertson, & Co.), and dreams of idyllic conditions in Ceylon.

The narrative records that, after breaking off his reverie, "He turned away and sauntered across the road," i.e., from the west side to the east. After entering the post office on the east side and coming out with a letter, he turns right, stops to talk to M'Coy while watching a couple leave the hotel across the street, walks up to the northern end of Westland Row at Great Brunswick Street (today called Pearse Street), turns right again on Great Brunswick, turns right yet again on South Cumberland Street, turns right a fourth time to enter St. Andrew's church through the back door, observes a service being conducted, exits the church through the front door, and turns left, walking "southward along Westland row" toward the pharmacy.

The train station does not figure in the action of Lotus Eaters, but Joyce returns to it later in the novel as Buck Mulligan and Haines make plans to return to the Sandycove tower. The Westland Row station served all the trains running to and from points southeast of Dublin, including Counties Wicklow and Wexford. (Today DART trains connect it to various points on the southeastern suburban coast, reaching Sandymount, Dun Laoghaire, Sandycove, Dalkey, and Bray.) In Oxen of the Sun a parodically distorted Haines briefly appears in the maternity hospital and, before disappearing, says to Mulligan, "Meet me at Westland Row station at ten past eleven." In the following two chapters Bloom thinks several times about confusing events that occurred at this station after leaving the hospital and Burke's pub.

Early in Circe he recalls jumping on a train that took him to the north side of the Liffey: "Nice mixup. Scene at Westland row. Then jump in first class with third ticket. Then too far. Train with engine behind. Might have taken me to Malahide or a siding for the night or collision. Second drink does it. Once is a dose. What am I following him for? Still, he's the best of that lot." Apparently some of the young men from Oxen have walked northeast from Burke's to the station and Bloom has jumped on a train following Stephen, who is bound for nighttown. But Eumaeus suggests that something else happened at the station. Bloom asks Stephen: "where, added he with a smile, will you sleep yourself? Walking to Sandycove is out of the question. And even supposing you did you won't get in after what occurred at Westland Row station."

Several sentences later Bloom is "still thinking of the very unpleasant scene at Westland Row terminus" when Mulligan and Haines somehow conspired "to give Stephen the slip," abandoning him and slipping off undetected to Sandycove on a southbound train while Stephen, addled by alcohol, headed in the other direction to Amiens Street to seek his beloved whore Georgina Johnson. Whether Stephen was deceived by this ruse is never made clear. Much earlier, at the end of Telemachus, he has already decided, "I will not sleep here tonight. Home also I cannot go."

JH 2022
Ian Gunn and Stephen Patterson's map of Bloom's wanderings in Lotus Eaters. Source: Gunn and Hart, A Topographical Guide.
Photograph of unknown date, looking north along Westland Row from a point just south of St. Andrew's church (columns and pediment). Source: www.pinterest.ie.