On this day…9 September

On 9 September 1904 Joyce arrived at the Martello Tower.

Joyce’s short-lived stay at the Martello Tower in Sandycove began on Friday 9 September 1904 and ended just six days later. Despite the brevity of his stay there, his connection with this unusual residence has made it the most iconic of all the locations associated with Joyce.

Joyce had been obliged to vacate the rooms he had been renting at 60 Shelbourne Road at the end of August 1904, and he spent nights at the home of James and Gretta Cousins, at his aunt Josephine’s, and a night with Maurice O’Callaghan, a medical student, before he accepted Oliver Gogarty’s invitation to join him at the Martello Tower in Sandycove.

Gogarty had taken up residence at the Tower late in August, and Samuel Chenevix Trench, a friend of his from Oxford, arrived at the Tower around the same time as Joyce. Trench, a Hibernophile who also went by the name Dermot or Diarmuid Trench, had just finished a canoeing trip around Irish rivers and canals, and happily spoke Irish to anyone he met. He was the model for the character Haines in Ulysses.

During his stay at the Tower, Joyce wrote a number of letters to Nora Barnacle who was probably also among the visitors to the Tower at the time. Others who visited were Arthur Griffith, Joseph Hone, and Seumas O’Sullivan (James Starkey).

Another visitor, William Bulfin, had been travelling around Ireland on a bicycle and arrived at the Martello Tower in Sandycove on Sunday 11 September. In his Rambles in Eirinn, Bulfin recorded his impressions of the men who had taken up residence in the Tower and who were “creating a sensation in the neighbourhood.” He describes Gogarty as a Trinity College student, a “wayward kind of genius” who was “assiduously wooing the muses.” Joyce is described as “a singer of songs which spring from the deepest currents of life,” who listened in silence to Gogarty’s captivating talk, and who “disposed himself restfully to drink in the glory of the morning” on the roof of the Tower.

While Joyce was living at the Tower, he wrote at least part of the poem ‘He who hath glory lost…’ (Chamber Music XXI), and his story ‘Eveline’ was published in the Irish Homestead over the name Stephen Daedalus.


Sources & Further Reading:

Bulfin, William: Rambles in Eirinn, Dublin: MH Gill & Sons, 1907.

Ellmann, Richard: James Joyce – new and revised edition, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1982.

Joyce, James: Letters of James Joyce, vol. II edited by Richard Ellmann, London: Faber & Faber, 1966.