Best value in Dublin

Best value in Dublin

In Brief

Inviting Bloom to join him for a mid-day meal in the Ormond Hotel's dining room, Richie Goulding apparently says, "Best value in Dublin," and Bloom responds, "Is that so?" The phrase recurs twice more in Sirens, becoming a minor musical theme in the episode, and returns in Circe. It was apparently a common theme in Dublin advertising.

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The contemporary ad to the right announces that meals can be had at Matthew Murray's for "6d. Best value in Dublin." Turn-of-the-century Dublin had a rich tradition of public life and many eating establishments catered to men looking for food while out on the town, but there was not much money. Joyce's fiction repeatedly features men searching for affordable meals, or trying to get the most for their prix fixe. In Two Gallants Lenehan has a miserable meal of "a plate of peas" after determining that it will cost "Three halfpence." In Lestrygonians Bloom sees men "Perched on high stools by the bar, hats shoved back, at the tables calling for more bread no charge, swilling, wolfing gobfuls of sloppy food." In Eumaeus the "starving" Corley has heard that "you got a decent enough do in the Brazen Head over in Winetavern street . . . for a bob," or 12d.

JH 2013
Source: archives of the National Library of Ireland. Reproduced in Cyril Pearl, Dublin in Bloomtime (Viking, 1969).