Standing above the Fortyfoot beach in Dún Laoghaire is a Martello tower. Just like its cousins in southern England, it was built in the early nineteenth century as part of Britain's defence system against the promised invasion from Napoleon. In 1904 it was home to James Joyce for a short while and as a result starred in his most famous work, Ulysses.
When I visited the beach at the end of August, entrance to the tower was free, so it seemed churlish to miss such an opportunity to have a look a bit closer at the great man's life. Manuscripts, first editions, drawings, family photos, two death masks and explanations of Joyce's life and works fill the walls and cabinets on the first floor. Half way up the narrow stone staircase of the tower is a single room which has been furnished as it would have been during Joyce's stay. It was sparse and would have been cold in winter, but there was a palpable romanticism about the place.
At the top, where the canon track is still in place, there is a fine view across the bay. I was so inspired by the place that I bought a secondhand copy of Ulysses later that weekend.
James Joyce Tower and Museum, Fortyfoot, Sandycove Point, Dún Laoghaire, Dublin IrelandHarbour, Sandycove
+353 (1) 280 9265
Google map: bit.ly/OCF0bF
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