Moore Street

In Brief

"Moore street," mentioned twice in the novel, is in central Dublin, several blocks north of the Liffey and two blocks west of O'Connell Street. It was, and is, the site of a large open-air market.

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Flora Mitchell observes that it was the city's "main shopping district" in the days (long before Joyce's time) when "this was the fashionable quarter of Dublin," but as time went on and the neighborhood decayed, "gradually it became an open market, radiating out into courts and lanes filled with booths and stalls" (64). Mitchell conveys the decidedly unfashionable quality of the street in a typical conversation she has overheard. A customer shouts: "Your stall looks for all the world like a box of gems Mrs Cassidy." And Mrs. Cassidy: "Thanks be to God it does, but 'tis a fright ye'd get at the dead o' night and the whole street heavin' wid rats. Ye could sthroll on the craythurs! But bedad they do a better job than the corporation. They'd eat up the least crumb off of the street."

When Mitchell wrote this in the 1960s the area had encountered "periodic threatenings of closure, but much trading is done here and the street is a riot of colour and noise." The situation has not changed much over the last 50 years. Today the street presents a cascade of fruits and vegetables, flowers, meat and fish. Haggling over prices is common.

In Lestrygonians Bloom thinks of the "filleted lemon sole" at a fancy dinner being "the same fish perhaps old Micky Hanlon of Moore street ripped the guts out of making money hand over fist finger in fishes' gills can't write his name on a cheque." In Ithaca he thinks of a commode which he "bought of Henry Price, basket, fancy goods, chinaware and ironmongery manufacturer, 21, 22, 23 Moore street." These were real businesses, located next to one another on Moore Street.

Gifford notes that in 1904 "M. and P. Hanlon, fish and ice merchants," resided at 20 Moore Street (182). Of the fancy goods store, he notes that the 1904 Thom's directory "lists George, not Henry, Price at this business and address. Henry Price is listed (p. 1990) as a dealer in hardware, chandlery, and fancy goods, 27 South Great George's Street" (603).

The resemblance of this name to the "Henry Blackwood Price" of Nestor is intriguing. Did Joyce change George to Henry deliberately, or by error?

JH 2014
Photograph of Moore Street in the 1930s or 40s. Source: www.boards.ie.
Watercolor of Moore Street by Flora Mitchell, ca. 1960. Source: Vanishing Dublin.
Moore Street today. Source: Wikimedia Commons.