Planning application notice for 15, Usher’s Island, Dublin 8
During this ongoing debate about the repatriation of James Joyce’s body, the developers Fergus McCabe and Brian Stynes have submitted an application to convert 15 Usher’s Island – the house in which Joyce’s story, The Dead, is set – into a 56-room hostel replete with a cafe.
If Dublin and the Dublin City Council truly want to honour Joyce, their energies would be better spent on devising a better plan for this house, rather than wasting time on the misguided business of repatriation (as has been well documented in these pages).
Joyce conceived and wrote The Dead in his self-imposed exile at a point when he began to miss his abandoned city.
As a result, it is less caustic than the other stories in Dubliners and, while still critical, shows a sincere and abiding appreciation of “Irish hospitality”.
This underlying affection is one of many reasons why this story is often considered the greatest short story in the English language.
On the other hand, McCabe and Stynes’s application exemplifies the very reasons why Joyce left Ireland, “the old sow that eats her farrow”.
Dr Sam Slote,
School of English,
Trinity College Dublin,