Strasburg Terrace

In Brief

"Strasburg terrace" is a short dead-end street that fronts some open space in "Irishtown," a suburb just north of Sandymount on the seacoast east of Dublin. In Joyce's time it wass distinctly un-posh, but today it is more respectable. Stephen's "aunt Sara" (or "Sally") lives in a row of houses on the street with her husband Richie Goulding and their children. Is Stephen thinking of asking whether he can move in with them?

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Irishtown's name dates to the 15th century, when the English rulers of Dublin became fearful of being outnumbered by the  natives and enacted statutes that banned Irish people from living within the city limits or doing business there past daylight hours. They built their own shabbier town outside the walls.

Today land has been reclaimed from the sea on the eastern edge of Irishtown, but in 1904 Strasburg Terrace was very close to the shore—it runs eastward from Strand Street—so it would be easy for Stephen to turn northwest and walk across the sands to his aunt's house. He stops and thinks about it: "His pace slackened. Here. Am I going to aunt Sara's or not?" After thinking about the scene that would greet him in the house, he sees his feet heading northeast toward the Pigeon House and realizes that he will not be visiting his relatives today—or staying the night.

In Hades the funeral carriages roll through Irishtown on the Tritonville Road and, just past "Watery lane," Bloom spots Stephen walking along the road, apparently headed for central Dublin after his time on the mud flats. Watery Lane, now Dermot O'Hurley Avenue, lies a bit north and west of Strasburg Terrace. In Aeolus Bloom wonders what Stephen was up to: "Has a good pair of boots on him today. Last time I saw him he had his heels on view. Been walking in muck somewhere. Careless chap. What was he doing in Irishtown?" In Eumaeus he is still reflecting on the locale: "things always moved with the times. Why, as he reflected, Irishtown strand, a locality he had not been in for quite a number of years looked different somehow since, as it happened, he went to reside on the north side."

Bloom decides that perhaps he was paying a call on a nice girl: "It was a thousand pities a young fellow, blessed with an allowance of brains as his neighbour obviously was, should waste his valuable time with profligate women who might present him with a nice dose to last him his lifetime. In the nature of single blessedness he would one day take unto himself a wife when Miss Right came on the scene but in the interim ladies’ society was a conditio sine qua non though he had the gravest possible doubts, not that he wanted in the smallest to pump Stephen about Miss Ferguson (who was very possibly the particular lodestar who brought him down to Irishtown so early in the morning), as to whether he would find much satisfaction basking in the boy and girl courtship idea and the company of smirking misses without a penny to their names bi or triweekly with the orthodox preliminary canter of complimentplaying and walking out leading up to fond lovers’ ways and flowers and chocs." Miss Ferguson, of course, is a creature of Bloom's imagination, prompted by hearing Stephen recite Yeats' Fergus poem. The female he is currently taken with, Georgina Johnson, is precisely one of those "profligate women."

JH 2019
Photograph of Strasburg Terrace in Irishtown taken by Patrick Healy in 1979. Source:
Strasburg Terrace in 2019. Source: John Hunt.
Map of Irishtown showing approximate locations of Strasburg Terrace (red) and the intersection of Watery Lane and the Tritonville Road (blue), in a 1920 Bartholomew map of Dublin held in the Norman B. Leventhal Map and Education Center of the Boston Public Library. Source: