Ireland day 0345. Thursday 08 September 2022- Queen

Ireland day 0345. Thursday 08 September 2022- Queen
Today’s summary Queen Elizabeth II, the only Monarch of the UK I have ever known, died this afternoon.
First thing this morning, I took the DART down to Sandycove to explore the James Joyce museum in the renowned Martello tower, and then had a look around Sandycove village and coast
Today’s weather Wet in the morning but dry with some sun in the afternoon.   Blustery easterly wind.   About 17C
Today’s overview location
(The blue mark shows the location of my route)
Close-up location
(The green line shows where I walked)
(Click button below to download GPX of today’s walk as recorded, or see interactive map at bottom with elevations corrected):
Joyce museum from Sandycove

I can’t say I’m an ardent monarchist.   For goodness sake I don’t even live in the UK at the moment.   But I must say as someone who was born in and lived most of my life in the UK, it came as a bit of a shock to learn that the Queen had died this afternoon.   She is the only British monarch I have ever known – though in that respect I suppose I am in the same position as almost everyone in the country today.   It feels like the end of an era, and perhaps even a bit like the loss of a family member.   

The UK has got plenty of troubles at the moment, and it seems unfortunate that the one respected institution that might have provided some continuity through the forthcoming turbulence will no longer be there.   The new Prime Minister will certainly have a full in-box to deal with and I hope she manages it more competently than her predecessor.   In the meantime, toasting the new monarch and hailing “God save the King” will, for me at least, take a bit of getting used to.   

But thank you, Elizabeth, for the job you did in 70 years on the throne.   You will be a hard act to follow.


You will be relieved to learn that I decided to take a day off the gym today.   Instead, while Val was out at work, I thought I would take the opportunity to head south of Dublin, to Sandycove.

A few weeks ago, when I had been on my walk over Dalkey and Killiney Hills, I had finished up at Forty Foot – the public sea-swimming spot at Sandycove.   I’d wanted to see what it was like, having heard a lot about it (I decided it wasn’t for me) but in the process I discovered that the site was overlooked by a Martello Tower.   Not just a Martello Tower, but the Martello tower, where the opening sequences of James Joyce’s masterpiece “Ulysses” is set.   Since 1962, the Tower has been converted to accommodate the James Joyce museum, housing artefacts about his life and the famous book.

Unfortunately, last time I was there, the museum was closed so I researched the opening hours, discovered it was open today, so as soon as I was ready I hopped on a DART and headed straight down to Sandycove and Glasthule station.   To get to the Martello, you have to walk through Sandycove, which is attractive in a villagey-sort of way and which seemed to be furnished with an unexpectedly large number of greengrocer shops.   You walk for about ten minutes then get to the museum, conspicuously situated on the top of a small rise overlooking Forty Foot.

The tower owes its fame to the opening chapters of “Ulysses”, which was set in the tower.  James Joyce had stayed there in September 1904, when he was aged 22, at the invitation of a some-time literary friend Oliver St John Gogarty.   The tower had been decommissioned from military use and Gogarty was renting it as a private house from Dublin Castle for £8 a year.

Unfortunately, Joyce had offended Gogarty in a poem he wrote a few weeks before his arrival, so by all accounts his stay at Sandycove met with some hostility.   Eventually after six days, Gogarty started shooting live ammunition at saucepans hanging over Joyce’s bed while he slept.   Joyce took the hint and left – in fact he left Ireland to live on the continent only a month later, and only rarely returned thereafter.

But his brief stay must have created an impression on him, because the roof of the tower, and the arched room below it, feature in the early chapters of the book, as the home of the fictitious Buck Mulligan (who was modelled on Gogarty).   Stephen Dedalus, Mulligan’s guest at the time, was modelled on Joyce.   Today, the roof, the arched room, and the gunpowder store at ground level – now the entrance to the museum – are all open to the public and contain a selection of interesting artefacts related to Joyce and his life.   The whole thing is quite small, so it didn’t take me long to look round.   But it was enjoyable and interesting.   Some of the details are shown in the pictures below.

One out of the museum, I trotted out into the daylight – the museum smelled a bit damp and cellar-ly, so it was nice to be in the fresh air again.   By that time, the clouds had temporarily dispersed and the sun was shining, so I found a good spot for lunch on the coast just below Bulloch castle.   After lunch I wandered back towards the station and had a good look at Sandycove village as I passed though.   There’s a fantastic bakery just by the traffic lights in the village centre, and I couldn’t resist pausing briefly to pick up a couple of almond croissants (the next best thing to scones) as I passed by.

I’m back at the flat now and reflecting momentarily on a day that was both interesting and slightly sad, and which certainly didn’t turn out at all as I had expected when I set out this morning.


Today’s photos (click to enlarge)

Entrance to the famous sea-swimming spot.   There was a strong easterly wind blowing today and it was far too rough for anyone to be out (though the nearby eponymous Sandycove Beach was calm, sheltered and thronging) In the ground floor “cellar” – which when originally built could only be accessed via a trapdoor from the arched room above – and which contained gunpowder and other ammunition
Very narrow tight spiral staircase built into the massive walls, leading up to the roof parapet  The roof itself, when where “Stately, plump Buck Mulligan” was shaving on the morning of 16 June 1904 – a date celebrated ever since as “Bloomsday”
The arched room.   All the daylight comes in through two small, slanted cannonball-proof machicolations carved into the 8ft / 2.4m thick granite walls. Bulloch castle – built in the 13th century but now somewhat weirdly turned into a nursing home
The Sandycove Martello Tower at Forty Foot, and now the James Joyce museum.   The main entrance today is through the flat-roofed extension at the left.   This is a modern addition.   When it was built, in 1804, to defend against a potential Napoleonic invasion (which never came), the only way in was through a removable ladder up to a small and heavily fortified door on the first floor.
Interactive map

(Elevations corrected at  GPS Visualizer: Assign DEM elevation data to coordinates )

Total distance: 5194 m
Max elevation: 13 m
Min elevation: 0 m
Total climbing: 87 m
Total descent: -87 m
Total time: 03:06:03
Download file: James Joyce And Sandycove compressed corrected.gpx

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