To the going-out entrance

U 12.1559: – Mind, Joe, says I. Show us the entrance out.

When tension builds up to bursting point as a result of a nasty rumour spread about Bloom by Lenehan, the nameless I-narrator of the Cyclops episode asks Joe Hynes and the other cronies in Barney Kiernan’s to “show him the entrance out”. But after imbibing three pints, he is only going to “pumpship”, rather than leave them for good.

The paradoxical phrase entrance out was not crisply coined in 1904, as it can be traced back at least to 1863:

An Irish labourer, admiring the manner in which a certain wharf carried out the arrangements as regards the entry and exit of vehicles taking goods there, was asked by one of the clerks, "What do you think of the wharf now?" – "Never a finer this side of the Thames," says Paddy, "if it had but another entrance out."

Bristol Mercury (1863), 7 March p. 6

"Shure, which is the entrance out" asked an Irishman at the Coventry Station the other day.

Leinster Express (1867), 2 March, p. 2

All the examples - including this joke from Punch,1 illustrated by Phil May - have the cliché of the naive Irishman as the originator of the phrase that Joyce picked up in the summer of 1919 in Zurich and added to his notesheets.

Harald Beck


1 First mentioned by R.W. Dent in his carefully researched Colloquial Language in Ulysses (1994), p. 145.

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