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BLOOMSDAY: The Dalkey Archive

Dalkey, DBN
So, what did you do for Bloomsday? If you are a Dubliner or happened to be in the city for that day, I can imagine you just could not help being part of the ceremony. You would end up caught up in the Ulysses web one street or another. I have never been in Dublin for Bloomsday, but from what I have read on the media and the pictures I have seen of the different celebrations – some more intellectual, some more physical – it must be really exciting. Only in Ireland indeed! :) As the book lover I am, I see Dublin as Paradise. Believe me, for a Spanish book lover (and probably for most other Europeans and also Americans...) to land in Dublin any day at random feels like a child in a candy store :) I am not very sure if someday I would like to spend Bloomsday there. Will I survive the blues when I'm back to (un-literary) Barcelona? Anyway, quite unconsciously I had paved my road to Bloomsday with Joyce-related readings, so I think I have some material to add my story to that very special day for all Joyce lovers.

Last April I visited Dalkey. I am very fond of literary tourism, so the reading of Flann O'Brien's The Dalkey Archive was mandatory. And, of course, Dalkey is very much connected with both the biography and the fiction of James Joyce. Probably because of that, Mr O'Brien modeled Joyce as a character for his novel. I purchased a certain edition of the book because of its cover. It is the one you see in the picture, with Joyce in caricature style. As regards the book in itself, prior to the reading, I had read a couple of reviews which mentioned that probably The Dalkey Archive was not the best option for the new O'Brien reader. That was me. However, as I have mentioned before, there were personal reasons attached to  my choice. But now I have to agree with those reviews. On the one hand, formalistically, I could detect, experience and diagnose that the author is a fabulous writer. On the other hand, however, as regards plot, action and theme, the book did not really fulfill my expectations. There are parts which are boring, with long paragraphs dealing with religion, for instance. I am aware O’Brien is putting forward a critique on religion, especially on the Irish Catholic Church, and that for me is a great plus, but unfortunately the novel did not spark my textual desire. I am so sorry but I forgive you, Mr O’Nolan. I will meet you again, in an improved context. The technical part, however, as I have just said, is exquisite: the use of language and its poetry, the imagery… the labyrinthic sentences, just like the streets of Dalkey...

Dalkey, DBN

“(…) the whole a dazzle of mildly moving leaves, a farrago of light, colour, haze and copious air, a wonder that is quite vert, verdant, vertical, verticillate, vertiginous, in the shade of branches even vespertine.” (7)

Dalkey, DBN
I myself got lost in Dalkey. That day in April, I took the DART from Connolly (Dublin) to Sandycove & Glasthule (Sandycove).  It is very easy to explore Sandycove for the Joycean lover. You get off the station, take any street down to the sea (which you can see from the station) and once in the seafront look to your right – if we take as a point of reference the position when you get off the station. Okay, I am chaotic at giving directions so I will let these pictures show the way. So, we get off the station, take the first street down to the sea and what we see is this:

Notice the group of courageous swimmers, some on water, some on land. For the Spanish observer that scene is heroic. We exclusively associate swimming the Mediterranean with hot summer. So, as I was saying, there is a delicious walk all along the seafront up to the area of the swimmers. Past them there is the entrance to the Forty Foot. Let's make a brief stop here and evoke in our minds the first chapter of Ulysses. Then we should follow the road up to the James Joyce Tower. Enjoy the enchanting views!

Then my plan was to reach Bull Harbour, in Dalkey, walking from the Joyce Tower. In less than 10 minutes I reached my destination and got to see my first wild seal ever, so cute. We do not get that in Spain either. Once there, my idea was to get to Castle St since it was the starting point of the route I have outlined for the visit. 

Somehow Google Maps fooled me and I got tangled up in a net of residential streets with smart little houses. Oh, and do not forget the Cul-de-sacs! A Catalan expression, by the way! I thought it was French, but it is not. It is from my land. That was very poignant. I was completely lost and the Catalan element instead of feeling like home, was a total curse. There was no way out!

Bull Harbour, Dalkey
“Dalkey is a little town maybe twelve miles south of Dublin, on the shore. It is an unlikely town, huddled, quiet, pretending to be asleep. Its streets are narrow, not quite self-evident as streets (…)” (7)

Dalkey, DBN
I missed the most gorgeous things of Dalkey. I was running out of time, I had a tight schedule. I suffered the streets of Dalkey and had to cut through the map. When I could not find my place in the map, my goal was to reach Vico Road, which is featured in Flann O'Brien's novel. That did feel like home.

“Behold it. Ascend a shaded, dull, lane-like way, per iter, as it were, tenebricosum, and see it burst upon you as if a curtain had been miraculously whisked away. Yes, the Vico Road.

Good Lord!

The road itself curves gently upwards and over a low wall to the left by the footpath enchantment is spread – rocky grassland falling fast away to reach a toy-like railway far below, with beyond it the immeasurable sea, quietly moving slowly in the immense expanse of Killiney Bay.” (7)

Killiney Bay, DBN

To be continued... 


This post first appeared on Reading In The Dark, please read the originial post: here

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BLOOMSDAY: The Dalkey Archive


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