Tag Archives: Dublin

St. Patrick’s Well, Dublin, Under Threat ?

The construction of the cross- city Luas line will destroy a holy well associated with St Patrick, Jonathan Swift and the introduction of frogs to Ireland, a historian has claimed.

Gary Branigan, author of Ancient & Holy Wells of Dublin, said the line would pass over St Patrick’s Well as it makes its way past Trinity College. The underground well would be destroyed in the process, he said.

The Railway Procurement Agency said it was aware of the well, which is a recorded monument, but said it would not be affected by the Luas works.

“Few pedestrians walking along modern-day Nassau Street will be aware that beneath their feet lies a hidden and ancient site of pilgrimage associated with none other than St Patrick himself,” Mr Branigan said.

“Nassau Street itself was called Patrick’s Well Lane until it was renamed in the 18th century after the accession to the throne of William III, ruler of the house of Orange-Nassau.”

Mr Branigan has called on Minister for Transport Leo Varadkar to review the route in order to preserve the well.

However the aagency said the well’s location had been incorrectly mapped and was actually under the north side of Nassau Street at the junction with Dawson Street and would not be under the new line.

“Appropriate constraints to protect the well during construction have also been included in the works contracts,” a spokeswoman said, “such as the requirement for continuous monitoring of vibration levels from construction activities in the area and the setting of appropriate vibration limits to ensure that no damage will occur to the well”.

In 1729 the well ran dry, inspiring Jonathan Swift to write a satirical poem.

Legend has it that frogs were introduced to Ireland by a Protestant who, “to show his zeal against popery”, brought frog spawn from Liverpool and deposited it in the well.

Source – Irish Times, 25 July 2013


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Almanac – February 02

Candlemas Day

Happy Candlemas !

If Candlemas Day be fair and bright
Winter will have another flight
If on Candlemas Day it be shower and rain
Winter is gone, twill not come again

Or if you prefer…

When the wind’s in the East on Candlemas Day
There it will stick till the 2nd of May

1650 – Nell Gwynne born. Long-time mistress of King Charles II of England, by whom she had two sons.  Called “pretty, witty Nell” by Samuel Pepys, she has been regarded as a living embodiment of the spirit of Restoration England and has come to be considered a folk heroine, with a story echoing the rags-to-royalty tale of Cinderella.

Elizabeth Howe, in The First English Actresses, says she was “the most famous Restoration actress of all time, possessed of an extraordinary comic talent.”



1709 – Alexander Selkirk [or Selcraig] was resused from Juan Fernandez Island, in the Pacific, by privateer Captain Woodes Rogers.

Selkirk had marooned himself on the island in 1703, following a row with his then captain, Thomas Stradling. His time as a castaway inspired Daniel Defoe‘s Robinson Crusoe [1719].



1882 – James Joyce born.  Irish novelist and poet, considered to be one of the most influential writers in the modernist avant-garde of the early 20th century.

Joyce is best known for Ulysses (see below), a landmark work in which the episodes of Homer‘s Odyssey are paralleled in an array of contrasting literary styles, perhaps most prominent among these the stream of consciousness technique he perfected.

Other major works are the short-story collection Dubliners (1914), and the novels A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man (1916) and Finnegans Wake (1939). His complete oeuvre also includes three books of poetry, a play, occasional journalism, and his published letters.



1922 – Ulysses by James Joyce  published. It was first serialised in parts in the American journal The Little Review from March 1918 to December 1920, and then published in its entirety by Sylvia Beach  in Paris.

Ulysses chronicles the passage of Leopold Bloom through Dublin during an ordinary day, 16 June 1904 .Ulysses is the Latinised name of Odysseus, the hero of Homer‘s poem Odyssey, and the novel establishes a series of parallels between its characters and events and those of the poem.



1969 – Boris Karloff died. best remembered for his roles in horror films and his portrayal of Frankenstein’s monster in Frankenstein (1931), Bride of Frankenstein (1935), and Son of Frankenstein (1939). His popularity following Frankenstein was such that for a brief time he was billed simply as “Karloff” or “Karloff the Uncanny.”



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Happy Bloomsday !

June 16th  is Bloomsday,  a commemoration and celebration of the life of Irish writer James Joyce during which the events of his novel Ulysses (which is set on 16 June 1904) are relived.
The name derives from Leopold Bloom, the protagonist of Ulysses, and Joyce chose 16 June 1904 as it was the date of his first outing with his wife-to-be, Nora Barnacle – they walked to the Dublin suburb of Ringsend.

Bloomsday (a term Joyce himself did not employ) was invented in 1954, on the 50th anniversary of the events in the novel, when John Ryan (artist, critic, publican and founder of Envoy magazine) and the novelist Flann O’Brien organised what was to be a daylong pilgrimage along the Ulysses route.

They were joined by Patrick Kavanagh, Anthony Cronin, Tom Joyce (a dentist who, as Joyce’s cousin, represented the family interest) and AJ Leventhal (Registrar of Trinity College, Dublin). Ryan had engaged two horse drawn cabs, of the old-fashioned kind, which in Ulysses Bloom and his friends drive to poor Paddy Dignam’s funeral.

The party were assigned roles from the novel. They planned to travel round the city through the day, visiting in turn the scenes of the novel, ending at night in what had once been the brothel quarter of the city, the area which Joyce had called Nighttown.

However, the pilgrimage was abandoned halfway through, when the pilgrims succumbed to inebriation and rancour at the Bailey pub in the city centre, which Ryan then owned. A Bloomsday record of 1954, informally filmed by John Ryan, follows this pilgrimage.

A few particles of Bloomsday miscellania – culled from the internet, so may or may not be true…

In 1956, Ted Hughes and Sylvia Plath were married by special licence of the Archbishop of Canterbury at St George the Martyr Church, Holborn, on 16 June, in honour of Bloomsday.

In Mel Brooks‘ 1968 film The Producers, Gene Wilder‘s character is called Leo Bloom, an homage to Joyce’s character. In the musical 2005 version, in the evening scene at the Bethesda Fountain in Central Park, Leo asks, “When will it be Bloom’s day?”. However, in the earlier scene in which Bloom first meets Max Bialystock, the office wall calendar shows that the current day is 16 June, indicating that it is, in fact, Bloomsday.

In 1981 a biography of Leopold Bloom – by Peter Costello – was published. Not read it, but it may have had an influence on the next item…

Bloomsday has also been celebrated since 1994 in the Hungarian town of Szombathely, the fictional birthplace of Leopold Bloom’s father, Virág Rudolf, an emigrant Hungarian Jew.

The event is usually centered on the Iseum, the remnants of an Isis temple from Roman times, and the Blum-mansion, commemorated to Joyce since 1997, at 40–41 Fő street, which used to be the property of an actual Jewish family called Blum.
Hungarian author László Najmányi in his 2007 novel, The Mystery of the Blum-Mansion  describes the results of his research on the connection between Joyce and the Blum family.

On Bloomsday 2011, @11ysses was the stage for an experimental day-long tweeting of Ulysses. Starting at 0800 (Dublin time) on Thursday 16 June 2011, the aim was to explore what would happen if Ulysses was recast 140 characters at a time.

And  Bloomsday 2011 also saw the arrival of our new  Cat from the rescue centre. A beautiful black & white girl, around a year old, she was named Molly, after Leopold Bloom’s wife.

I guess this is a good example of  the consequences of an action echoing down through the years. When Joyce and Nora took that original walk in 1904 they could never have imagined that they were setting in motion a chain of events that would result, 108 years later, of a Cat in Sunderland being named after a character in a novel that wouldn’t even be published for another 18 years.

Molly, incidentally, has moved into music videos with a percussive offering called To My Hellcat [which is, of course, an anagram of Molly the Cat].

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