Prescott's dyeworks

Prescott's dyeworks

In Brief

Ulysses glances several times at the ads that were conspicuously displayed on the outer surfaces of Dublin's tram cars. The first of these comes in Lotus Eaters when Bloom looks out from the portico of St. Andrew's church onto busy Westland Row and sees "Trams: a car of Prescott's dyeworks." (This would be a car on the DUTC's Route 9, Kingsbridge to Hatch Street.) Later chapters reveal that Bloom has been negotiating with the owner of this company to place an ad in the Freeman's Journal.

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The Thom's Directory of 1904 lists a Prescott's dyeing and cleaning business at 8 Lower Abbey Street, owned by one William T. C. Prescott. The business was thriving: it had several other branch storefronts in the Dublin area and it advertised in multiple media, including the Freeman. In Lestrygonians Bloom tots up sums he may reasonably expect to receive soon: "Keyes: two months if I get Nannetti to. That’ll be two pounds ten about two pounds eight. Three Hynes owes me. Two eleven. Prescott’s dyeworks van over there. If I get Billy Prescott’s ad: two fifteen. Five guineas about."

When he thinks of Milly in Nausicaa this plan floats back into Bloom's consciousness: "Milly for example drying her handkerchief on the mirror to save the ironing. Best place for an ad to catch a woman’s eye on a mirror. And when I sent her for Molly’s Paisley shawl to Prescott’s by the way that ad I must, carrying home the change in her stocking! Clever little minx." Apparently Bloom has been talking about landing this ad for some time, because in Penelope Molly complains about "always listening to him and Billy Prescotts ad and Keyess ad and Tom the Devils ad."

In fabricating this part of the story Joyce apparently was relying on knowledge of actual Prescott's ads in the newspaper, one of which appeared on the day represented in the novel. Gifford records the text of this ad published on the first page of the 16 June 1904 Freeman's Journal: "IMPORTANT: LACE CURTAINS are now very carefully cleaned and finished with our New Dust Resisting process. By this System they keep longer than if done in the old way. In Three Days 1/- Per Pair PRESCOTT'S DYE WORKS Carriage Paid One Way."

JH 2022
Robert French's photograph of Dame Street ca. 1898, showing a horsedrawn tram car with an ad for Prescott's Dye Works, held in the Lawrence Photograph Collection of the National Library of Ireland. Source: