Elvery's elephant

Elvery's elephant

In Brief

"Elvery's Elephant house" refers to John W. Elvery and Co., a sporting goods and rubber products merchant. The company also had stores on Nassau Street and in Cork and London, but the one on Sackville Street was called the Elephant House because a large elephant stood over its main entrance.

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In Hades the funeral cort├Ęge passes by this establishment on its way up Sackville (now O'Connell) Street. In the late afternoon, Blazes Boylan's jaunting car retraces part of the course of the carriage that Bloom's fourwheeler took in the late morning, as he travels north from the quays to Bloom's house on Eccles Street. Sirens notes Boylan's passage by some of the same landmarks, including Sir John Gray's statue, the Elephant house, Nelson's pillar, Father Mathew's statue, and the Rotunda.

Elvery's was located at 46-47 Sackville Street Lower, at the corner of Prince's Street. I have not yet located any photographs of the building ca. 1904 or earlier, which is unfortunate because the establishment stood less than a block south of the General Post Office and was badly damaged in the 1916 Easter Rising. The site from which the photograph at right is taken also features a photo of a cricket bat from the Elvery's display windows, now held in the National Museum of Ireland. It has a .303 shell lodged in the hitting face. That caliber was used in British troops' Lewis machine guns and their Short Magazine Lee Enfield rifles. For more information see thecricketbatthatdiedforireland.com. The photograph displayed here comes from about 1950, but there are others dating to ca. 1920, showing the store soon after its 1917 rebuild.

Elvery's was the oldest sporting goods store in Ireland. It advertised an assortment of "waterproofing" services, reflecting its capacity as a rubber merchant. It is still in business today, but not on O'Connell Street. The main store (still proudly displaying the elephant) is on Suffolk Street, and there are several branch establishments throughout the city. The building on O'Connell Street now houses a Supermac's, shown in the photograph at right. The plinth that held the elephant remains, sans elephant.

John Hunt 2015
Elvery's ca. 1950, in a photograph held in the Joyce collection of the Rosenbach Museum and Library. Source: thecricketbatthatdiedforireland.com.
The building that was Elvery's, today. Note the plinth over the Supermac's logo. Source: Gareth Collins.