After paying the 5 euro admission fee, take a seat on the first floor in the Maginni Room, so named after Professor Maginni, a "dance master" from Joyce’s time who leased the building in the early 19th century and was given small roles in Ulysses. A short film, narrated by a truly somber gentleman with a bright future in horror film voiceovers, details the trials and tribulations of Joyce’s early childhood, with a concerted focus on his family’s nomadic moving habits.
Moving upstairs, there’s a great Joyce research library with books on each table for perusal. There’s four or five cabinets containing all kinds of Joyce goodies, but they’re locked up and I couldn’t tell if they were just for show, if they rotated the materials in and out, etc. Hey, if there’s something in there you really want to see, it can’t hurt to ask. Next to the library is a gorgeous room with big windows overlooking the street. Judging by the vacant lectern and chairs, my guess is the room is used for presentations and guest lectures. Of note here is the "James Joyce Retrospect" painting, 1996, by Brian Breathnach.
That voice... drifting down the staircase as you approach the top floor... it's from the ghost of James Joyce himself! Kidding, of course. It’s creepy, it’s eerie, and it’s amazing to hear an old recording of him passionately reading excerpts of Finnegan’s Wake. The effect is further exasperated by Joyce’s encased death mask near the top of the stairs. Move into the room to the left for even more insight and background on Joyce’s career, including the original schema of Ulysses that was originally intended only for the eyes of his friend Stuart Gilbert.
It’s clear that by the time he became an adult, Dublin had little room in Joyce’s heart. He spent the majority of his life in Paris, Zurich, and Trieste, and in Dubliners, he wished to show his native city "one good look at themselves in my nicely polished looking glass." Perhaps it’s ironic that such a nicely polished looking glass into his own life is located in the very city he once admonished.
Results 1-2of 2 Reviews
June 8, 2007
From journal Bloomsday
by Mr. Wonka
Brooklyn, New York
October 4, 2005
From journal Letting the Foam Settle in Dublin