Brewery barge

In Brief

Starting across the river in Lestrygonians, Bloom notices a ball of smoke rising up beside the stone railings of the bridge: "As he set foot on O’Connell bridge a puffball of smoke plumed up from the parapet. Brewery barge with export stout. England. Sea air sours it, I heard." The barge going under the bridge is from the Guinness brewery stores on the south bank of the Liffey at the western end of Dublin. It is carrying barrels of stout down to the mouth of the river, where they will be loaded onto oceangoing ships that cannot pass upstream beyond the O'Connell Bridge.

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In 1904 these barges were powered by steam, which meant that they produced large quantities of dirty smoke. In his Ulysses Guide Robert Nicholson observes that the discrete "ball" of smoke can be accounted for by an inventive feature of the barges: "The brewery barges, plying to and from the Guinness brewery, had hinged funnels which were let down when they passed under a low bridge, releasing the 'puffball'" (152).

JH 2019
Steam-powered brewery barges on the Liffey in 1911. Source: www.irishmirror.ie.