Ulysses wanderings in Kildare

Henry Bauress


Henry Bauress

The entrance to Clongowes Wood College in Clane
BLOOMING James Joyce.

BLOOMING James Joyce.

The former Kildare schoolboy is, if not all, some of the rage this Monday, 16 June.

Joyce wrote, among other things, one of the most famous books ever written, “Ulysses,” which was published in 1922.

It describes, for the most part, the thought of Leopold Bloom, his wife, Molly, and some others in a single day, 16 June 1904.

Joyce wrote other books. One, “A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man,” is partly based in Clongowes Wood College, near Clane.

Joyce was born in Dublin on 2 February, 1882 and died, in Zurich, Switzerland, on 13 January, 1949.

A Portrait was published in 1916, first in serial form in a literary review, the Egoist.

Joyce went to Clongowes Wood in Clane as a boarder in 1888, when he was only six years old, and left, aged nine, in 1891, because his father, who was not a good money manager, could no longer afford to pay the fees.

The thought of the young hero of A Portrait centre around the Clane school, where he was bullied, caned by one priest, saved by another, the rector, Fr. John Conmee, S.J, who also appears in Ulysses, as did a Brother Michael.

Both A Portrait and Ulysses did not find much favour with the many Irish critics.

Because Ulysses is both so local, and, at the same time, so universal, quite a number of references to the county appear. While the author seems to have mixed up some of his geography, there are references to Rathcoffey, Leixlip, Sallins, Clane, the Bog of Allen, Moyvalley, the Maynooth college refectory, the Salmon Leap, and other spots.

The Leap is not the famous public house in Leixlip but a once famous, now gone, picturesque scene on the Liffey river, removed to facilitate an upgrade to the electricity system.

Joyce began work on Ulysses in 1914, the year he published his short story collection, “Dubliners,” and drafted a copy of his play, “Exiles.”

In 1904, he believed himself fighting “a battle with every religious and social force in Ireland.”

In an era of censorship, far stricter, than today, Joyce’s work faced major hurdles.

As a critic said of one of the books: “No clean minded person could possibly allow the novel to remain within reach of his wife, his sons or daughters.”

Millions have ignored the advice.

As tours now take place in Kildare around the life of Arthur Guinness and others, perhaps, a Joyce trip would provide a pleasant day out.