Bulldozers bring gloom to Bloomsday

Today is Bloomsday, the most important date on the James Joyce calendar. All over the world, Joyce aficionados are celebrating the anniversary of the author's famous first rendezvous with Nora Barnacle, on 16 June 1904, when the enterprising Galway lass unbuttoned the writer's trousers and made him a man. The act earned her a lifetime's role as the author's lover and muse.

It is also, of course, on 16 June that all the action of Joyce's great novel Ulysses takes place. But despite the official opening by the Irish President, Mary Robinson, of the James Joyce museum and educational centre in Dublin last week, for many Joyce fans Bloomsday 1996 has lost its bloom. The childhood home which inspired his early novel Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man will shortly be flattened by bulldozers and replaced with a block of flats unless a campaign launched on the Internet to save it succeeds.

"Don't let Bloomsday wilt in Dublin this year" urges the Internet message, adding: "Send a written objection to the Planning Officer, Dublin Corporation Planning Dept before June 20."

Supporters include Joyce's nephew Ken Monaghan, the administrator at the new Joyce centre, who views the prospective destruction of the house as "a great pity". Among numerous American Joyce fanatics who have lent their support is Professor Robert Paul of Portland University in Oregon. "It is a scandal that it has been allowed to fall into such a state of disrepair that its destruction can seem a matter of indifference to the authorities," he says.

The Joyce family first moved to Holywell Villas - now 2 Millbourne Avenue, Drumcondra - in May 1894. There Freddie, May Joyce's 12th child was born - and subsequently died.

After Joyce senior was forced to sell the remainder of the properties he had inherited in Cork in order to pay off his debts, the family lived in penury. "They would live a few weeks in one place and then flee the landlord," says Anne Holliday, who is leading the campaign.

This poverty is vividly evoked in Portrait of the Artist when Joyce describes how his alter ego Stephen Dedalus "pushed open the latchless door of the porch and passed through the naked hallway into the kitchen".

The scene continues: "A group of his brothers and sisters were sitting around the table. Tea was nearly over and only the last of the second watered tea remained in the bottoms of the small glass jars and jampots which did service for teacups."

A rare break for the Joyces was when young James won a prize in the Intermediate Examination at nearby Belvedere College and was able to treat his family to new footwear and clothing.

This will not be the first time that a Joycean building has ended up beneath the bulldozer. Because there is no official provision for the protection of buildings of literary or historical importance in Ireland, it is difficult to campaign for their preservation. As a result, 7 Eccles Street, the home of Ulysses' Molly Bloom, was demolished some 20 years ago, while Holywell Villas has of late been the home of squatters.

Attitudes are changing: the Dublin planning department has recently turned down a similar plan to demolish a house with connections with Lord Byron. Likewise, the setting for Joyce's short story The Dead has just been bought by developers who have pledged to restore it and eventually open it to the public. No doubt the film based on the story, starring Anjelica Huston and directed by her father John, helped.

In the case of Hollywell Villas, however, the developers are lying low. According to Miss Holliday they are Elgin Properties, though there is no such company listed in the Dublin telephone directory. Nor will they answer any inquiries, she says.

Should her campaign be successful, she will need a "wealthy benefactor" to try and buy the house, making it "a place of pilgrimage for Joycean scholars and enthusiasts from all over the world".

Meanwhile, every day a new batch of frantic messages wings its way round the Net, as Joycean surfers register their support from as far afield as Amsterdam and Tasmania. Canadian poet John Oughton has even composed and filed a poem entitled "Domistyle", including the lines: "If words are worth keeping/The house is also."

8 The campaign's E-mail address is mnugent&iol.ie.

News
The cartoon produced by Bruce MacKinnon for the Halifax Chronicle-Herald on Thursday, showing the bronze soldiers of the war memorial in Ottawa welcoming Corporal Cirillo into their midst
news
News
peopleFox presenter gives her less than favourable view of women in politics
Voices
Funds raised from the sale of poppies help the members of the armed forces with financial difficulties
voicesLindsey German: The best way of protecting soldiers is to stop sending them into disastrous conflicts
News
The Edge and his wife, Morleigh Steinberg, at the Academy Awards in 2014
peopleGuitarist faces protests over plan to build mansions in Malibu
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Property
One bedroom terraced house for sale, Richmond Avenue, Islington, London N1. On with Winkworths for £275,000.
property
Voices
Nigel Farage has backed DJ Mike Read's new Ukip song
voicesNigel Farage: Where is the Left’s outrage over the sexual abuse of girls in the North of England?
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Taylor Swift performs at the 2014 iHeart Radio Music Festival
musicReview: 1989's songs attempt to encapsulate dramatic emotional change in a few striking lines
News
Mario Balotelli has been accused of 'threateningly' telling a woman to stop photographing his Ferrari
peoplePolice investigate claim Balotelli acted 'threateningly' towards a woman photographing his Ferrari
Arts and Entertainment
Paul Anderson plays Arthur Shelby in Peaky Blinders series two
tvReview: Arthur Shelby Jr seems to be losing his mind as his younger brother lets him run riot in London
Voices
Don’t try this at home: DIY has now fallen out of favour
voicesNick Harding, who never did know his awl from his elbow, is glad to see the back of it
Arts and Entertainment
Miranda Hart has called time on her award-winning BBC sitcom, Miranda
tv
Sport
Phil Jones (left) attempts to stop the progress of West Bromwich Albion’s James Morrison on Monday
I'm not worried about United's defence - Chelsea test can be the making of Jones and Rojo
Arts and Entertainment
Saw point: Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence in ‘Serena’
filmReview: Serena is a strangely dour and downbeat affair
Life and Style
The Zinger Double Down King, which is a bun-less burger released in Korea
food + drinkKFC unveils breadless meat beast
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Datacentre Consultant (Infrastructure Consultant, HyperV) £45k

£45000 per annum: Ampersand Consulting LLP: Datacentre Consultant (Datacentre,...

English Teacher

£100 - £125 per day: Randstad Education Cardiff: Randstad Education Cardiff is...

.NET Developer (C#, .NET, Support) - Coventry - £45k

£45000 per annum + Excellent Benefits: Ampersand Consulting LLP: .NET Develope...

C# / ASP.NET Developer

£40000 - £65000 per annum + bonus + benefits + OT: Ampersand Consulting LLP: C...

Day In a Page

Wilko Johnson, now the bad news: musician splits with manager after police investigate assault claims

Wilko Johnson, now the bad news

Former Dr Feelgood splits with manager after police investigate assault claims
Mark Udall: The Democrat Senator with a fight on his hands ahead of the US midterm elections

Mark Udall: The Democrat Senator with a fight on his hands

The Senator for Colorado is for gay rights, for abortion rights – and in the Republicans’ sights as they threaten to take control of the Senate next month
New discoveries show more contact between far-flung prehistoric humans than had been thought

New discoveries show more contact between far-flung prehistoric humans than had been thought

Evidence found of contact between Easter Islanders and South America
Cerys Matthews reveals how her uncle taped 150 interviews for a biography of Dylan Thomas

Cerys Matthews on Dylan Thomas

The singer reveals how her uncle taped 150 interviews for a biography of the famous Welsh poet
DIY is not fun and we've finally realised this as a nation

Homebase closures: 'DIY is not fun'

Homebase has announced the closure of one in four of its stores. Nick Harding, who never did know his awl from his elbow, is glad to see the back of DIY
The Battle of the Five Armies: Air New Zealand releases new Hobbit-inspired in-flight video

Air New Zealand's wizard in-flight video

The airline has released a new Hobbit-inspired clip dubbed "The most epic safety video ever made"
Pumpkin spice is the flavour of the month - but can you stomach the sweetness?

Pumpkin spice is the flavour of the month

The combination of cinnamon, clove, nutmeg (and no actual pumpkin), now flavours everything from lattes to cream cheese in the US
11 best sonic skincare brushes

11 best sonic skincare brushes

Forget the flannel - take skincare to the next level by using your favourite cleanser with a sonic facial brush
Paul Scholes column: I'm not worried about Manchester United's defence - Chelsea test can be the making of Phil Jones and Marcos Rojo

Paul Scholes column

I'm not worried about Manchester United's defence - Chelsea test can be the making of Jones and Rojo
Frank Warren: Boxing has its problems but in all my time I've never seen a crooked fight

Frank Warren: Boxing has its problems but in all my time I've never seen a crooked fight

While other sports are stalked by corruption, we are an easy target for the critics
Jamie Roberts exclusive interview: 'I'm a man of my word – I'll stay in Paris'

Jamie Roberts: 'I'm a man of my word – I'll stay in Paris'

Wales centre says he’s not coming home but is looking to establish himself at Racing Métro
How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?

A crime that reveals London's dark heart

How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?
Meet 'Porridge' and 'Vampire': Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker

Lost in translation: Western monikers

Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker. Simon Usborne, who met a 'Porridge' and a 'Vampire' while in China, can see the problem
Handy hacks that make life easier: New book reveals how to rid your inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone

Handy hacks that make life easier

New book reveals how to rid your email inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone with a loo-roll
KidZania lets children try their hands at being a firefighter, doctor or factory worker for the day

KidZania: It's a small world

The new 'educational entertainment experience' in London's Shepherd's Bush will allow children to try out the jobs that are usually undertaken by adults, including firefighter, doctor or factory worker