Group Four

BY: Clay Rowe, David Marsan, and Alex Arguello

"I want to give a picture of Dublin so complete that if the city suddenly disappeared from the
earth it could be reconstructed out of my book
." --James Joyce
(Budgen 69)


Imagine no longer having any recollection of your hometown because it doesn’t exist anymore. This was the thought of James Joyce when he began to write the short stories Dubliners, in 1914. Joyce wrote the short stories in Dubliners in chronological order by age, to give the reader a perspective of Dublin to each age group. He was able to create a real life image of his hometown Dublin, the place in which he grew up and spent part of his life living in. In creating the book, he introduced places that he may have visited in his childhood and into adulthood. In order to preserve his city, he filled a lifetime of information into a single group, in order to interpret and introduce the people of Dublin to the readers. Overall, the aspects of James Joyce’s story, the Dubliners agree with the time period of Dublin, in depiction of religion, political, economical, and geographical locations.

Catholics vs Protestants: The Historical Picture

In the late 19th Century and early 20th Centuries the Catholics and Protestants clashed. This clash between the two sectors of Christianity was due to the superiority of the Protestant minority in the social classes. According to Joseph V. O’Brien the clash was due to the superior economic and social status that the Protestants had. “Dublin Protestants continued to wield a disproportionate share of the social power and influence that derived from their status in the occupation hierarchy” (O’Brien, 40). The Protestants held most of the prestigious, high paying jobs compared to the Catholics who generally had lower-paying and more labor-intensive jobs. This created a tension between the two groups, which divided the population of Ireland. The Protestants looked down upon the poorer Catholics, while the Catholics were envious of the Protestants superior economic status (O’Brien 39-44). James H. Murphy illustrates the effects of this divide in his book Evangelicals And Catholics In Nineteenth-Century Ireland, in which he argues that the Catholics were made very self conscience about their religion due to their socio-economic status. Murphy portrays the Catholics loyalty to the church and resistance to insult of their religion in his statement, “The faith of the Irish Catholics is so strongly planted in their breast, no matter how poor they may be, that they would prefer to die or suffer any amount of coercion rather that have faith that faith subjected to insult” (Murphy 226). This quote portrays how a follower of Catholicism would risk his or her life to defend their beliefs in a heartbeat.

The Church had great influence on the people during this time period. In his book James H. Murphy argues that the Church was very influential upon the decisions the Catholics made. The Churches held great sway during this time because of their position in the Irish culture. During this time the Catholic Church put very strict rules on its followers. Followers of the Catholic Church were extremely disciplined and listened to every rule the Church laid down. This made the Church very powerful in the country of Ireland. The people looked to the Church for their daily need and obeyed every rule in fear of going to hell and their desire to go to heaven (Murphy, 142).

According to Murphy, this power of the Catholic Church has both good and bad features as a whole for the country. The good of this power is that beliefs of moral discipline and duty outweighed the impulses of violence in conflicts. This factor is very important because it gives the Church the power to act as a police force and eliminating the peoples will to strike back. The bad of the power is that the Church also had the power to disturb other sectors of Christianity. Overall, the church had the power to alter people’s views of morality. The Church had the power to alter people’s decisions and the ability to decide what the views of their followers were on almost anything. With this influence the Church had the power to control its followers in almost any situation (Murphy 163). The priests of both religions, Catholicism and Protestantism, during this time period, despite their power and prestige, still had problems with crooked religious officials. Murphy characterizes such problems through the example of a bishop “.Describes the bishop as a ‘very useful personage’ who could charge higher prices for his religious and social efforts as a Bishop’s spiritual services were naturally of greater value than those of the inferior clergy (Murphy, 137). During the time period, the Church had some officials that abased this power for their personal monetary gain. The religious officials had the power and influence of their followers, they also had the power to use this to their advantage for their selfish greediness (Murphy, 137-140).

Catholics vs Protestant: Dubliners

Religion is a theme in Dubliners that reoccurs throughout many of its stories. James Joyce is able to depict how religion plays a role in daily life in almost every story. In the short story “The Sisters,” the plot revolves around the death of a priest who was the mentor of a young boy. This priest had much influence over the young boy. This priest influenced the boy just like the Church influenced the people of Ireland during the time period. The religious officials were very well respected and had a huge responsibility; this was portrayed in the book through the breakdown of the priest due to religious pressure. The priest was overwhelmed by the strict rules of the Church. “...He was too scrupulous always, [she said]. The duties of the priesthood was too much for him” (Joyce p.9). This quote shows how the priest broke down because of the importance the role of the Church played and how he was so afraid of making a mistake because he would lose respect as a priest.
In the story “An Encounter,” a group of boys ditch school in order to go on an adventure they had always desired to go on. Joyce is able to show the tension between the two groups in this story in a comment from a stranger to the boys. The boys are accused from another group of kids of being Protestants. The boys are yelled at, being called, “Swaddlers! Swaddlers” (Joyce, 14). The boys are quick to say that they are not Protestants. This use of language and the boys reactions show that the boys absolutely do not want to be confused with Protestants. The teacher of the boys is a priest as well, and the school is a Catholic school. The teacher who is a priest makes the comment to one of the boys on his view on how the catholic school is better than that of the National school. This comment shows that the Catholics think they are better in a school alone then being integrated with Protestants. This comment by the teacher emphasizes the tensions between these two religions (Joyce p.11-20).

Church Enstone, Oxfordshire
Church Enstone, Oxfordshire

A picture of a stained glass window in a Catholic Church (3).

The story "Grace" by James Joyce is about a middle-aged alcoholic. The man falls down a flight of stairs and creates a scene which leads his friends to decide they must change his alcoholic ways. They attempt to reintroduce him to the Catholic Church. In doing so,the men try to save their friend by teaching him about the Church, their information however regarding the Church is invalid. In the story, Joyce is able to show the view of the Protestants; they believe they are superior to the Catholics. This teaching process shows Catholic followers did not truly understand the intricacies of the Catholic religion; they just followed the orders of the Church. The Church had great power over the people and told them what to do, with little questioning (Joyce p. 149-174).

Politics in Ireland

In the 19th century, Ireland’s greatest political leader was Charles Stewart Parnell. Parnell is considered a hero in Ireland due to his work in establishing home rule and self-government in his country. Parnell was an advocate for Irish nationalism and he often encouraged his fellow countrymen to wear badges such as those below (Hurst p.34). Being consistent in nationalism, Parnell called for Catholics and Protestants to come together to form one united Ireland (Hurst p.35). This is especially notable because Parnell himself was a Protestant (Bort 82). This is also notable because Protestants did well in an anti-home rule society. Many were shocked that he would campaign for something that would worsen conditions for his religion (Flynn p.1). Parnell's push for government change can in part be linked to an incident that occurred at his home while he was away at Cambridge. Government officials raided his house while his mother was home looking for contraband (McCormack p.175). He quickly became the leader of the Home Rule Party and was recognized for the creation of “Ivy Day.”

Irish Home Rule Party Badges

Politics in Dubliners

“Ivy Day” is a holiday that is celebrated by the Irish, on October 6th, by wearing a spring of ivy on their clothing. It has been celebrated for years and is also included in the “Ivy Day in Committee Room.” “Ivy Day in the Committee Room,” was created because of an election that took place in Dublin between the two candidates Tierney and Colgan. The story began with a peddler named Mat O’Connor quarreling with a fellow peddler, Joe Hynes. Hynes joined O’Connor at a pub and began to instigate him, by accusing Richard Tierney, the candidate that O’Connor supports, of being sympathetic with the British, even though he claims to be a nationalist. Siding with the British appears to be a bad move as it earns Tierney many enemies including the support character, Hynes. The characters in the story in "Ivy Day" obviously have not forgotten their recent history (Joyce 115-133).

"Ivy Day in the Commitee Room" also deals with the relationship between politics and money. Characters are very open about how money can influence their politic allegiances. Joe Hynes comments about how he does not support Richard Tierney because he is frequently late in paying him his salary. This sort of thinking is likely due to the poor economic conditions in Ireland at this time. When you are down on your luck and struggling to make ends meet, most of your decisions, not just poltical ones, are financially motivated (Joyce 115-133).

Historical Irish Economy

The 1800s were a very rough time for Ireland economically. The country was forced to deal with a huge potato famine mid-century, and suffered the effects of which would be felt for the rest of the century (Hill). Higher education was also unusually low due to families' inability to afford it. Children dropped out of school early in order to work the little jobs there were (Hill). Unemployment was quite high and subsequently, labor conditions were quite poor. Ireland's economic problems can be attributed to their population nearly doubling during the first half of the century and their inability to transport (export) goods due to a lack of railroads.

Irish Economy in Dubliners

In Dubliners, you see as people struggle with money and their standards of living. This is very much like the true Dublin citizens during this time era. Dublin was a very poor city and the conditions were very bad. According to “Irish Question: the housing conditions were the worst of the cities in Europe. The average number of rooms was one and a half per family. These extremely high living conditions created very dirty areas of the city, which was the main cause of the High death rate shown in Dirty Dublin (O’ Brien p.21).
An example of the lifestyles that most Dubliners sought is depicted in "After the Race". Joyce tells the story of a few friends who are living lavishly Ireland. They play cards, sail on big boats, and drive fast cars. Though they are each from different backgrounds, (American, French, Canadian) they are all bounded by one thing: wealth (Joyce 35-42).

Geographical Locations

Imagine walking down the streets, pass buildings, churches, bridges, and all the squares throughout all of Dublin in the late nineteenth century and early twentieth century. If you can't imagine this Joyce does an excellent job of showing these places throughout his stories. Each short story is full of locations in which the main characters are shown going through these locations. Streets are by far the most prevalent area, which are mentioned throughout the stories. Each place also has played an important part in the history and culture of Dublin. Joyce states in the introduction of his notes that he used, "I have accepted Gifford's division of the city into four quadrants which allows directions and locations to be given in relation to points of the compass" (Joyce p.237). This quote shows that Joyce was giving a lot of consideration to being geographically correct on where he said places were. In doing so he paints a picture of the map of Dublin at this time period.
Map of Dublin in 1900

(O'Mahoney, John)

Streets, Churches, Buildings, and Parts of the City

During "The Sisters" the first main street mentioned, is Great Britain Street. In the book A Traveler’s Companion it tells that nowadays there is no such street because it was renamed after Charles Stewart Parnell who was an Irish statesman. Because of this Great Britain Street was renamed as Parnell Street, and can be found in the North Central part of Dublin. Great Britain Street or Parnell Street at this point in time was inhabited by the poor and was known as more or less the slums of the town (Pakenham p.44). Another such street is that of Gardiner Street.This street can be found on the north side going from Lower Dorset Street to The Custom House. It is between Parnell Street and The Custom House. In the book Dublin Old and New, the author states that the street was named after Luke Gardiner, "who was the chief designer and layer-out of all this quarter"(Gwynn p.63).

Present day Parnell Street
George's Church of Ireland

("Ireland from a Polish persective")

In addition, another such street is that of Grafton Street which is found in "After the Race". It used to border the notorious north side slums, which were fine house abandoned to the poor. Grafton Street at this time though was a much more desirable and upper-class street (Parkenham p.200). These houses as time went on were to become department stores and then office buildings in the future. Grafton Street has had its fair share of events happen in it. For example, In A Traveler’s Companion John Joly retells his story of seeing the Irish rebels take over the city, " A sort of barrier had been placed within the large gate facing the foot of Grafton Street. Behind it stood, with set face and in Sinn Fein uniform, an armed man" (Parkenham p.282). Another such street would be Earl Street, which is mentioned in "Two Gallants". At this time period this area was known as the red-light district, which as defined as the sign of a brothel or area where prostituion takes place in.

Throughout history Churches have played a major role in the society of the country and of life. In Dublin two such churches were St. Catherine's and George's Church, St. Catherine's is a prominent Catholic Church with a rich history from the start of Dublin. On the other hand George's Church is a Protestant Church, which was part of the Church of Ireland. In a Traveler's Guide it talks about how Reverend James Whitelaw was the rector of St. Catherine's Church and ended up dying due to catching a fever from his parishioners who were mostly the poor. This could be understood as saying he got sick because of his dirty and poor parishioners which shows that the church was in a poor area (Pakenham p.100).

In addition, there are many buildings, which play a big role in Dublin, one of which is the Pigeon House. The Pigeon House, which can be found according to A Traveler's Guide, "about 3 miles from Dublin and 1 from the landing place, is the customary landing place of passengers from the packets..." (Pakenham p.256). Also the Pigeon House at this time was where Dublin got most of its electricity. As is stated by Gilligan, "The site had been sold to Dublin Corporation in 1897. So if this story is set at roughly the same time as "The Sisters", then the Pigeon House in "An Encounter" must be reckoned the military dock it was at the date of sale"(Gilligan p42).

Lastly, two areas, which are Kingstown and Irishtown. In Lewis' Dublin it gives a picture of what Kingstown looked like, " a seaport and market town...This town, which is situated on the southern shore of the bay of Dublin" (Ryan p.197). It also goes on to say how it was mostly a Protestant town, but was very English like due to George the IV leaving from this port in 1821 (Ryan p.197-202). Irishtown is explained in Lewis' Dublin as the southern portion of Ringsend and is in "less ruinous condition" (Ryan p233-234).

St. Catherine's Church
The Pigeon House


Geographical Locations in Dubliners

James Joyce created a great description of Great Britain Street and the house in which Father Flynn had lived and died. Joyce writes of what the building on the street was like, " It was an unassuming shop, registered under the vague name of Drapery. The drapery consisted mainly of children's bootees and umbrellas and on ordinary days a notice used to hand in the window, saying Umbrellas Recovered" (Joyce p.3). Joyce uses the word Drapery as a connotation of the sight of the house after the Priest had died. The sign on the building gives the reader the understanding that this was a poorer part of town, which did not have new things being sold in the shops. This agrees with the true historical information that said mostly the poor inhabited this street. Gardiner Street plays a role in "An Encounter" by being the street which Joe Dillon’s, "parents went to eight-o'clock mass every morning" (Joyce p11). This is very accurate because if you look at the above paragraph there is a church, which is present on this street. Another street would be that of Grafton Street which plays a role in "After the Race", where Jimmy lived and took his friend there before going out to dine with Segouin. (Joyce p.38) The final street was that of Earl Street, which was mentioned in “Two Gallants” as the road where Corley remembered a past lady, he had "dated". He said, "She's on the turf now. I saw her driving down Earl Street one night with two fellows with her on a car" (Joyce p. 47). Joyce shows a description of Earl Street as a place where prostitution and other unlawful acts took place. It fits in great with the historical information of the street as being the red light district (Joyce p.45-47).

In addition, Joyce does a great job once again in incorporating these real places into his stories. St. Catherine's Church is mentioned in "The Sisters" as the Church in which Rev. Flynn used to preach at. In the story the priest is told as being head of this Catholic Church in his early days, which matches up, with the description of the real Church today. In addition, George's Church, which comes into the picture during the “Boarding House” on a Sunday morning, is described as, "sent out constant peals and worshippers, singly or in groups..." (Joyce p.58). In the notes in the back of the book it tells of how it was a known Protestant Church, which matches up with its actual history also. Next, the Pigeon House which is the place where the boys planned to go on their adventure during "An Encounter". They don't give a real description of what it is, but an idea can be drawn due to the fact that they have to get off a ferry in order to reach it. In reality the same thing has to be done and it can't just be by mistake that they are both described as the same thing. The last two areas are Kingstown and Irishtown, the first of which is mentioned in "After the Race". In it Joyce tells of how it was mostly a Protestant town, which had a harbor, this matches up with the description of the actual area. Lastly, Irishtown comes up in “The Sisters” as the place where Rev. Flynn was born and had wanted to take a trip to. In the story Eliza tells that they wanted to go this summer only if they could, “get one of them new-fangled carriages that makes no noise…” (Joyce p.9). This shows that Rev. Flynn was not wealthy at all which matches up with the description of Irishtown being a place where poor people had lived (Joyce p.244, p.257).


Overall, Joyce does a great job incorporating the historical facts into a fictional group of short stories such as Dubliners. He was able to create a real life story about possible real people that may have lived in his very own home town. It explained the everyday sights and what it would be like in a day of the life of a normal Dubliner. If a person who had never heard of Dublin was to read this book the person would get a very accurate view of the area. The way in which religion had a very dominant influence over the country can not only be shown in history, but also in Joyce's explanation. As for the political aspects you have seen that 1880-1914 was full of turmoil between the two sides. The economy in Dublin was just starting off in a sense but was still very week. This is clearly shown by Joyce in his deception of the poverty in his book. Finally, Joyce's use of the streets and locations creates a map of the city for the reader. Overall, the aspects of the story Dubliners agrees with the time period in Dublin, which depicts religious, political, economical and geographical locations.

Here is an example of present day Dublin with areas listed in the above paper. This is an example of what Joyce wanted to do with his short stories in Dubliners.

Works Cited

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Gilligan, Henry A.. A History of the Port of Dublin. Gill and Macmillan, 1988.

Gwynn, Stephen. Dublin Old and New. Ireland: Browne and Nolan Ltd, 1938.

Hill, Myrtle. "Movements for Political & Social Reform, 1870–1914." Cork Multitext Project

"Ireland from a Polish persective." First days in Dublin. 01 June 2006. 5 Aug 2007 06/01/first-days-in-dublin/| 06/01/first-days-in-dublin/.

Joyce, James. Dubliners. Great Britain: Penguin Books, 1992.

Lee, Joseph. The modernisation of Irish Society 1848-1918. Dublin: Gill and Macmillan Ltd, 1973.

Maisey. "St. Catherines Church." Depository Ramblings of an Irish Woman. 30 March 2007. 5 Aug 2007 < blogs/2007_03_01_deiri...>.

Mansergh, Nicholas. The Irish Question. Wokin and London: Unwin Brother, 1965.

Mcormick, John. The Story of Dublin. Dublin Mentod Books, 2000.

Murphy, James H. Evangelicals And Catholics In Nineteenth-Century Ireland .England: Four Courts Press, 2005

O’ Brien, Joseph V. “Dear Dirty Dublin”. Berkeley/Los Angeles/ London: University Of California Press, 1982

O'Mahony, John. "The Sunny Side of Ireland." Dublin. 19 September 2006. 5 Aug 2007 < 19329/19329-h/19329-h.htm>.

Pakenham, Thomas. Dublin A Travellers' Companion. Great Britain: Constable and Company Ltd., 1988.

Ryan, Christopher. Lewis' Dublin. London: The Collins Press, 2001.

visitdublin, "It's a Beautiful Day for Dublin." You Tube. 28 January 2007. 7 Aug 2007 <>. (3)

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