D. B. C.

D. B. C.

In Brief

The "D. B. C."  is the Dublin Bread Company, a baking business whose tearooms and restaurants operated at four different locations in Dublin: on O'Connell Street Lower, on Dame Street near Dublin Castle, on the northern border of St. Stephen's Green, and at the National Library in Kildare Street. Bloom thinks of one of these—unspecified—in Lestrygonians as the "Dublin Bakery Company tearoom." Three other mentions of the company, in this chapter and in Wandering Rocks, all clearly refer to the Dame Street premises.

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In Lestrygonians Bloom thinks that "Debating societies" meet at the "Dublin Bakery Company tearoom" to "gas about our lovely land" and maintain "That republicanism is the best form of government." Gifford speculates that this may be the Dame Street restaurant, or perhaps "the one near the National Library because it was frequented by students." One page later in the same chapter, Bloom supposes that John Howard Parnell will "Drop into the D. B. C. probably for his coffee, play chess there. His brother used men as pawns." Gifford notes that "The smoking room of the company's restaurant at 33 Dame Street was a meeting place for chess players."

Section 16 of Wandering Rocks shows that Bloom's supposition about John Howard Parnell is correct:

     As they trod across the thick carpet Buck Mulligan whispered behind his Panama to Haines:
     — Parnell's brother. There in the corner.
     They chose a small table near the window, opposite a longfaced man whose beard and gaze hung intently down on a chessboard.
During the conversation between the two men, Mulligan's joking makes it clear which restaurant they have entered: "We call it D. B. C. because they have damn bad cakes." This irreverent construction of the acronym has not stopped him from ordering "some scones and butter and some cakes as well" to go with the two mélanges (French for "mixtures," which Gifford glosses as "a mixture of fruits in thick cream") that he and Haines have requested.

In section 19, at the end of Wandering Rocks, the two men look down on Dame Street from their streetside table to watch the viceregal cavalcade rolling by: "From the window of the D. B. C. Buck Mulligan gaily, and Haines gravely, gazed down on the viceregal equipage over the shoulders of eager guests, whose mass of forms darkened the chessboard whereon John Howard Parnell looked intently." The procession imagined in Ulysses (it never happened in fact) has crossed to the south side of the Liffey at the Grattan Bridge and is now moving eastward along Dame Street.

JH 2021
The D.B.C. tea-room at St. Stephen's Green North, in a photograph held in the National Library of Ireland. Source: Cyril Pearl, Dublin in Bloomtime.
The massive main D.B.C. building on Lower O'Connell Street, designed by architect George F. Beckett, constructed in 1901, and destroyed in the Easter Rising in 1916. Source: www.archiseek.com.
Colorized view of the façade.. Source: www.archiseek.com.