"The False Smiles of the Market-sellers." Dublin Visitor sums up Cork Experience.

"The False Smiles of the Market-sellers." 

Dublin Visitor sums up Cork Experience.

Dublin's Fort-foot features in the exhibition poster





Odysseys is the title of a current exhibition at the Crawford Art Gallery (in the Gibson Galleries) and marks the centenary of James Joyce’s modernist masterpiece Ulysses. 


It is about travel and journeys of all kinds, within ourselves and without, in particular those of Joyce, with a particular focus on his Cork connections. Odd isn’t it how we rebels have never claimed this particular fellow rebel?


All those who journey require food and drink and in the exhibition and in Joyce’s writings of course there are many references to food and drink and Cork. Joyce’s grandparents were salt merchants, operating in an area around George’s Quay, Douglas Street, Dunbar Street, White Street and South Terrace.

Joyce pic (and Ulysses cover) in a Dublin shop, via Pixabay


Later, with the family in Dublin, Joyce referred in his writings to a restaurant known as Jammets and it is also mentioned by the artist Kernoff (who is featured in the Crawford). 


Quite a posh place - Charlie Haughey and his chosen few loitered there regularly; it started in 1901 and lasted until 1967, the restaurant that is, not Haughey’s loitering. It was the kind of place you went to after theatre to eat oysters and drink liqueurs (served by waiters who spoke French or German).


And it had a nickname: The Underdones.  Why? Because of the French way of cooking steak rare.


Back in Cork, Joyce experienced many of the city’s hotels and restaurants. The Victoria Hotel (in the news recently) is mentioned in  A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man. Joyce was a guest here as were John Redmond,Michael Collins, Winston Churchill, Liam Cosgrave, and Charles Stewart Parnell (not all at the same time!). 

Sing song with the ladies of the Coal Quay, waving their shawlies,  from 2014

In Odysseys, you will see a facsimile of an advertisement for Newsom's CafĂ© de Paris (in Cork!). Newsom & Sons, which first opened in 1816, was located  on the corner of Marlboro Street and Patrick Street (later Woolworths). 


“They had set out early in the morning from Newcombes [sic] Coffeehouse, where Mr Dedalus' cup had rattled noisily against its saucer, and Stephen had tried to cover that shameful sign of his father's drinking bout of the night before by moving his chair and coughing' (A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man).


Mahrea Cramer Lehman has a painting hanging in the exhibition titled Market Lane from the Oyster Tavern, Cork. Serving the people of Cork since 1800, the Oyster Tavern may have been one of the pubs visited by Simon and Stephen Dedalus in A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man. Stephen, as you probably know, was Joyce's literary alter ego


‘Stephen watched the three glasses being raised from the counter as his father and his two cronies drank to the memory of their past.”


He was not overly impressed with market smallholders, not clear though whether they were operating in the English Market or the Coal Quay. The exhibition includes a painting by Agnes Frost called Stall Holders, Coal Quay.


Joyce wrote: One humiliation has succeeded another, the false smiles of the market sellers, the curveting and ogling of the barmaids with whom his father flirted. Stephen was not too pleased with the father’s behaviour either, it appears. 


The exhibition also includes a film, narrated by Flicka Small, on the author's connections with Cork.


Joyce summed it up in Ulysses (who had quite the Odyssey himself): Every life is in many days, day after day. We walk through ourselves, meeting robbers, ghosts, giants, old men, young men, wives, widows, brothers-in-love, but always meeting ourselves. No escaping the latter.


Curated by Flicka Small and Michael Waldron, ODYSSEYS runs until April 3rd 2022.


Combined this visit with lunch Upstairs at the Quay Coop. Details  here.

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