The 12th section of Wandering Rocks opens with Tom Kernan walking eastward "From
the sundial towards James's gate," along James's Street
on the far western edge of Dublin. Later in the section he
turns north toward the river. His walk is marked by proximity
to a pub, a drinking fountain, an immense brewery, and an
Just before the action begins, Kernan has exited a pub run by
"Mr Crimmins," where he has secured an order of some
tea for his employer while downing two glasses of the
proprietor's "best gin." The pub still exists on the south
side of James's Street, but today it is called the Malt House.
Mr. Kernan has turned right after leaving the premises,
heading east on James's Street toward the center of town. The
section begins with him congratulating himself on what he
thinks if the brilliantly conversational way in which he has
"Got round" Mr. Crimmins. He has walked about half a block
from the pub and now stands across from a small plaza where
Bow Lane West runs into James's Street from the northwest.
The "sundial" that stands on this plaza is actually an
obelisk bearing four sundials near its top and two water
basins at its base. Commissioned by the Duke of Rutland (the
Lord Lieutenant of Ireland), and designed by the architect
Francis Sandys, it was erected in 1790. Originally, water
apparently flowed from four ornamental heads into a large
circular basin at pavement level, but at some point in the
19th century the large pool was paved over and two small
drinking basins, manufactured by "T. Kennedy, Patentee," were
installed on opposite faces of the obelisk, with injunctions
to "Keep the pavement dry." The monument still stands, though
the basins no longer quench anyone's thirst or slicken any
stones. Dublin Corporation
commissioned a company to restore the stonework in 1995, with
financial help from Guinness Ireland and the Ireland Fund of
"James's Gate," toward which Mr. Kernan is walking at
the beginning of the section, began life in the 13th century
as the westernmost gate to the walled city of Dublin. The
medieval gate was demolished in 1734, but the name remained
attached to the spot at the eastern end of James's Street
where it passes Watling Street and becomes Thomas Street West.
The area and the name have been associated with brewing since
the 17th century. In 1759 Arthur Guinness signed a 9,000-year
lease on four acres and founded the St. James's Gate Brewery.
His company later bought those acres and about 50 others
nearby, building production and storage facilities south of
James's Gate and north all the way to the river, whence barges could transport
their product past Carlisle (O'Connell) Bridge to waiting
ships for export. Varieties of the famous Guinness stout ("the
black stuff" in Dublin) have been brewed near James's Gate
since the late 1700s, and at some point the company erected
its own gateway into the brewing facilities, opening off the
south side of James's Gate, to honor and capitalize on the
medieval gateway that once led into the city.
The most direct route for Kernan to take back to his office would be to pass by this gate on his right and continue along Thomas Street, heading east. Instead the narration observes that he "turned and walked down the slope of Watling street by the corner of Guinness's visitors' waitingroom," which the company built across from the gate, on the north side of the street, for people waiting to tour their brewing facilities. As he turns left onto Watling Street Kernan walks by this facility, which no longer exists. In the 21st century its functions have been more than replaced by the Guinness Storehouse, in the block of brewery buildings south of James's Gate. An architecturally ambitious building, the Storehouse contains six floors of museum-like displays and a seventh-floor bar offering excellent 360-degree views of Dublin.
As he walks north on Watling Street toward the river,
skirting the Guinness storage facilities on his left, Mr.
Kernan sees on the right hand side of the road a jaunting car left
unattended "Outside the Dublin Distillers Company's stores."
This large two-story warehouse building, which still stands,
was constructed in 1866 as part of the huge Roe distillery on
Thomas Street. Peter Roe founded the distillery in 1757, and
over the course of the 19th century it grew to become the
largest in Ireland and perhaps the world. In 1890, George Roe
and Company's Thomas Street distillery combined with William
Jameson's Marrowbone Lane distillery (different from John
Jameson's Bow Street distillery) and the Dublin Whiskey
Company's Jones Road distillery to form the ill-fated Dublin
Distillers Company. The storehouse at 21-32 Watling Street was
one of several buildings purchased by the Guinness company
when the Thomas Street distillery closed during the
Prohibition era and many of its structures were demolished.
Kernan is then seen approaching "Island street," which intersects Watling one block shy of the river. No further exact indications of his location are given in the section, but it can be inferred that as his interior monologue concludes he passes beyond Island Street and approaches the quays. The section ends with him seeing that he has just missed an opportunity to greet the viceregal cavalcade rolling eastward "along Pembroke quay."
Starting with two glasses of gin in Mr. Crimmins' pub,
passing by a drinking fountain, threading the needle of the
gargantuan Guinness complex, and finally passing by the
largest of all Irish whiskey distilleries, Mr. Kernan's walk
seems calculated to register as a geographical salute to human