U 14.1391 Burke’s! outflings my lord Stephen, giving the cry …

Towards the end of the Oxen of the Sun episode the students move from the common room of the Maternity Hospital at 29-31 Holles Street to Burke’s public house at number 17. This note gathers together the information we have about this lost Dublin location.

Map section courtesy of Ian Gunn

Public house at the corner of Dorset and Eccles Street; Photograph: William York Tindall, The Joyce Country (1960)

Burke’s public house was situated at the corner of Holles street and Denzille street (Fenian street after 1924). Like O’Rourke’s house, which still exists at the corner of Dorset and Eccles street, it had a corner-porch entrance. There was also a side entrance into the dwelling where the owner lived on the upper floors.

John Burke, tea and wine merchant (he uses the term “grocer” in the 1901 census), had taken over the premises as advertised below from William Donnelly in 1874.

17 Holles Street as advertised in 1874 (Freeman’s Journal, 30 March)

The corner of Holles and Fenian street. Picture: Irish Architectural Archive

The 1901 census shows John Burke, 50, grocer, unmarried, living at 17 Holles Street with three assistants and a housekeeper. After he retired from business he lived as a boarder at the Adelphi Hotel in Anne Street where he died on 7 September 1914, aged 63.

He had sold 17 Holles Street in 1905 (roughly one year after the action of Ulysses) to P. C. Martin, who kept it another 20 years. It was on the market again in 1925 advertised as “Important corner Licensed Premises”, along with the adjoining property, number 16. By 1935 it was vacant, but still advertised as “Well-situated Licensed Property” in 1937. Number 16 was a tenement by that time.

In 1966 the building had become derelict and was demolished in the following year. It was only then that a photographer found its disappearance a subject of interest, its remaining “good lofty cellarage with arched vaults” newly filled with rubble.

Unfortunately, when Tindall systematically photographed the sites of Joyce’s stories and novels he missed the chance to make a view of the building available to posterity when he took pictures of the Holles Street Hospital in the 1954. He may in fact not have known where to look for what used to be Burke’s public house. Earlier Frank Budgen, who visited Dublin and some of its boozy Ulysses locations like Davy Byrne’s, the (new) Ormond Hotel and Barney Kiernan’s in 1933, had also missed the place it seems.

Harald Beck

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