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Miss Douce

Miss Douce and Miss Kennedy at a different bar

 

 


U
11.64-5: Bronze by gold, miss Douce’s head by miss Kennedy’s head, over the crossblind of the Ormond bar heard the viceregal hoofs go by, ringing steel.
 
Miss Douce and Miss Kennedy provide the backdrop to the action at the beginning of ‘Sirens’, listening to the sounds outside the Ormond bar and the conversation within. Joyce rewrote this section extensively to get it right. Luca Crispi’s analysis is particularly revealing:

 

Joyce described both barmaids' heads as 'bronze' at first, but then changed Miss Douse's (she is not yet 'Miss Douce' as we know her in Ulysses) hair colour to 'gold'. He then rewrote the entire opening to start with the well-known 'Bronze by gold', switched the order of the barmaids' names to coincide with the newer description, and specifically reinforced the aural sense over the visual (presumably for stylistic reasons).1

 

        We should remember that spelling ‘Douse’. Don Gifford (Ulysses Annotated) has less to say this time:

 

Bronze by gold heard the hoof-irons, steelyringing – The barmaids in the Ormond hotel, Miss Douce (bronze) and Miss Kennedy (gold), hear the viceregal procession (11.64-65). Bronze and gold were the principal metals in the world of Homer’s epics; iron was the metal of Homer's own time [...].

 

        Some old new light falls on the barmaids at the Ormond Hotel in a paper published by James Meagher in Australia in 1945. Meagher was born in Dublin in 1894, and trained as a solicitor. He practised for a while in Dublin, from 1916 into the 1920s, when he emigrated to Australia. He knew Joyce in passing, and grew up in the aftermath of Bloomsday. His article of reminiscence and appreciation touches on Miss Douce, as he recalls his life as a Dublin solicitor around 1920:

 

For many years I had my lunch almost daily in the 'Bailey' Restaurant in Duke Street – the ‘Burton’ of the ‘Lestrogonians’ – and incidentally while I was a customer Miss Douse of the golden hair the Ormond Hotel barmaid of the ‘Sirens’ was the manageress of the 'Bailey'.2

 

        Again that spelling ‘Douse’, and Miss Douse has ‘the golden hair’ here.

 

        James Meagher seems to fall into errors (the Bailey and the Burton were different restaurants at 2/3 and 18 Duke Street respectively).3 But his remark about Miss Douce is intriguing. The Bailey has had a celebrated history as a bar and restaurant:

 

In the heyday of the old Irish Party the Bailey was one of the most popular meeting places for the Irish M.P.s, while in later times it was a frequent rendezvous of Sinn Fenn leaders. Arthur Griffith and Michael Collins were regular customers.

Irish Times (1947) 20 September, p. 14

 
        The Dublin newspapers show that in 1894 an Alice Dowse became proprietor of the Restaurant. She had previously been manager at Hynes’s Restaurant in Dame Street.

 

The Bailey Restaurant. Nos. 2 and 3 Duke Street, Is under new management, and has been thoroughly renovated with all modern improvements. It has always been famous for good Oysters, and the Proprietress intends keeping up the reputation for best value in town.4

 

Luncheons off the Joint, with Vegetables, 1s. Table D'Hote, 2s and 2s 6d. Red Bank Oysters, 2s per dozen.

 

The Cellars have been stocked with all the Best and Choicest Brands, and no effort left undone to bring the celebrated old house up to date.

 

Ladies Diningroom upstairs a Speciality.

 

A. Dowse, Proprietress,

 

Late Manager of Hynes’s, Dame Street.

Irish Times (1894) 24 August, p. 1

 

        The Bailey had been established in 1830 by Eliza Bailey, and had been run for many years as the Bailey Tavern. Alice Dowse’s surname is that of ‘Miss Douce’ in Ulysses, but it is one of her sisters, rather than Alice herself, who is likely to be the ‘Miss Douce’ of Joyce’s text.

 

        The Dowses came from Tinahely in Wicklow, where they had been involved in the Wicklow Rebellion of 1798 and the Fitzwilliam clearances of the mid nineteenth century. Thomas and Anne Dowse had many children – almost one a year between 1864 and 1885. Some did not survive. Most of the girls migrated to Dublin, and the 1901 census shows Alice and her sisters Maggie and Helena at 2/3 Duke Street (the address of the Bailey Restaurant). By now Alice has married William Hogan (the licensee) and both are listed as proprietors of the restaurant, where Maggie is the Manageress and Helena the cashier.

 

        By the time we reach 1904 and Bloomsday we assume that ‘Maggie’ (Margaret) Dowse was manager of the Bailey, and she would naturally be the person we would identify with Joyce’s ‘Miss Douce’. Sadly Maggie died in May 1908, and her younger sister Helena (properly Ellen) became manageress, with her sister Alice and Alice’s husband William as joint proprietors.

 

        This would be an acceptable identification if it were not for James Meagher. He recalls that Joyce’s ‘Miss Douce’ was Manageress of the Bailey at the time he was a ‘customer’. As James was only 8 when Maggie died, he will only have known Ellen as the Manageress, and so he clearly regarded Ellen Dowse as Joyce’s ‘Miss Douce’, though Joyce changed her first name to ‘Lydia’.

 

        The Bailey’s census listing for 1901 is suggestive in another way. The ‘House Keeper’ of the Bailey is a young Queen’s County (Co Laois) girl called Mary Kennedy. Little is known about Mary, but she was still living at the Bailey in 1911 (see the census return) as ‘House Keeper’, listed directly under the Manageress and ‘Head of Family’ Ellen Dowse. The Hogans remained as proprietors but now lived at 24 Lansdowne Road, Dublin.

 

        It seems that Joyce used at least the surnames of Ellen (or perhaps Maggie) Dowse and of Mary Kennedy, manageress and housekeeper at the Bailey Restaurant in Duke Street for the names of the Sirens' barmaids Lydia Douce and Mina Kennedy.

 

        Ellen Dowse remained in Dublin, unmarried, for many years. Her sister Bridget died early, in 1906, two years before Maggie. Alice had children and lived at 24 Lansdowne Road until her death in 1924. William and then her two daughters carried on with the Bailey until it was sold as a going concern in 1947. The advertisements feel much the same as in the early days:

 

Friday, Friday. Lunch and Dine in the Bailey Restaurant, 2 & 3 Duke Street, One door from Grafton street.

 

Special  4 course fish luncheon...2/6.

 

Liberal portions.

 

Noted for Excellent Cuisine. Quick Service. Oysters a Speciality.

 

Best Spirits – Best Wines – Best Cigars.

 

W. Hogan, Proprietor.

Irish Times (1931) 6 March, p. 1

 

        But Ellen herself survived the sale by only four years, dying herself on 3 November 1951 in a Dublin nursing home.

  

John Simpson



1 Luca Crispi “A First Foray into the National Library of Ireland’s Joyce Manuscripts: Bloomsday 2011” in Genetic Joyce Studies Issue 11 (Spring 2011): http://www.antwerpjamesjoycecenter.com/GJS11/LCrispiGJS.htm (accessed 24 December 2011).

2 J. A. Meagher “A Dubliner Reads ‘Ulysses’” in Australian Quarterly, vol. 17, No. 2 (June, 1945), p. 75.

3 On the ‘habit’ of confusing the Bailey and the Burton see S. B. Bushrui and B. Benstock James Joyce, an international perspective: centenary essays in honour of the late Sir Desmonde Cochrane (1982), pp. 48 and 64, where the misconception is traced back to 1947.

4 Best value in town: Joyce’s Goulding calls the Ormond, where Miss Douce works in Ulysses, the ‘best value in Dublin’ (U 11.357); the Bailey was one of Gogarty’s favourite haunts:

‘The Bailey has the best whiskey and the best food in Dublin. I took a young friend of mine, a wealthy fellow, and between the unreality of riches and his chef, he declared the Bailey, and at the bar, mind you: ‘You have the best eating-houses and drinking-houses in the world.’

As I was Going down Sackville Street (1937), p. 64


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