Catholic Club

Catholic Club

In Brief

O'Connell Street has seen unending change since 1904. Of all the Georgian townhouses that once lined its Upper section, only one remains standing today: the "catholic club" that Bloom sees on the "Dead side of the street" (personal communication from Gareth Collins).

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The building at 42 Upper Sackville Street was built in 1757. In 1882 an institution called the Catholic Commercial Club was founded, and took up residence in the townhouse. It was a gentlemen's club for supporters of the Irish Parliamentary Party (Parnell's Home Rule party), frequented by members of the Catholic middle classes who felt themselves rising in the world. The club shut down in 1954.

Gifford identifies the other allusions in this long string of sights: "In the nineteenth century land agents were important in the management of Irish landlords' (many of them absentee) large land holdings. A succession of land reforms in the late nineteenth century, climaxing in 1903, dismantled these estates and displaced the land agents as a class." The "temperance hotel" that Bloom thinks of next was "The Edinburgh Temperance Hotel, 56 Sackville Street Upper." "Falconer's railway guide," at number 53, refers to "John Falconer, printer, publisher, wholesale stationer, depot for the sale of Irish national school books; office of the Irish Law Times, the Solicitor's Journal, and the ABC Railway Guide." The "civil service college," at number 51, was "Maguire's Civil Service College (a tutoring school for the British civil-service examinations)." "Gill's," at number 50, was "M. H. Gill & Son, Ltd., wholesale and retail booksellers, publishers, printers, and bookbinders, depot for religious goods." And "the industrious blind," at number 41, was the "Richmond National Institution for the Instruction of the Industrious Blind."

This is indeed "Dull business by day." O'Connell Street Upper is not the showcase of national pride and magnet of commercial activity that O'Connell Street Lower is.

JH 2015
42 O'Connell Street Upper today. Source: Gareth Collins.