James Joyce enthusiasts find the James Joyce Centre the place to go for their devotion. Located in the North City Centre, the museum contains various artefacts belonging to James Joyce as well as items contemporary to the Dublin of his era. Some say that Joyce composed a virtual Dublin travel guide in his Finnegan's Wake and Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man. His Ulysses was censored in the 20th century and it was considered a status symbol just to own a copy of it. The museum focuses in particular on the Ulysses novel. Items include
- Photos of Dublin as it was in James Joyce's era
- Letters written from Samuel Beckett to James Joyce
- Joyce's guitar and cane
- A set of biographies on 50 characters from Ulysses
- A Matisse-illustrated edition of Ulysses
The Cultural Centre also features an extensive library, exhibition rooms, archives, a bookstore, and a cafe in the 18th century Georgian townhouse where Denis Maginni once taught dance. Maginni is the flamboyant dance instructor and "confirmed bachelor" of Ulysses --- indeed, all the characters of that famous book were based on real Dubliners.
This centre for all things Joycean also offers an interactive "James Joyce and Ulysses" exhibition where the visitor can examine the controversies of the novel. The interactive displays include three short documentaries on Joyce's life and works. Computers allow the visitor to explore the content of Ulysses episode by episode and to trace the life of James Joyce year by year. Also on exhibit at the centre is furniture from Paul Leon's flat in Paris where Joyce wrote much of Finnegan's Wake and the 7 Eccles Street door of Leopold and Molly Bloom's home.
History of the Building
The townhouse that is now the cultural centre was originally built for the Earl of Kenmare in 1784. Senator David Norris, a Joycean scholar and gay-rights activist, bought the house in 1982, restored it, and converted it to its current purpose. While impressive and interesting in its own right, the house does not have any direct connection with Joyce.
The Annual Bloomsday Festival, held each 16th June, is organized from the centre. 16th June is the date Leopold Bloom makes his way around Dublin in 1904 in Ulysses.
Walking tours can be scheduled at the centre, which is near Belvedere College where Joyce was educated.
Opening Times and Fees
Opening Times Monday-Saturday 10am-5pm Sunday 12:30pm-5pm Fees Adults 5 euros. Seniors / Students 4 euros.
The centre can be found at 35 North Great Georges St., Dublin --- about 10 mins walk northeast of O'Connell Street.
James Joyce Centre. Image by William Murphy.