Sackville Street (Dublin)

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O’Connell Street is Dublin’s main thoroughfare. Up till 1924 it was known as Sackville Street, after which the street was renamed in honour of nationalist leader Daniel O’Connell whose statue stands at the lower end of the street, facing the river and O’Connell Bridge.

In 1935 Gogarty published his first prose work, As I Was Going Down Sackville Street  (subtitled ‘A Phantasy in Fact’), a semi-fictional memoir that tells, in reverse chronological order, the story of Gogarty’s Dublin through a series of interconnected anecdotes and characters sketches. Oliver Joseph St John Gogarty was an Irish poet, a nationalist politician (one of the founding members of Sinn Féin in 1905), and a surgeon who served as the inspiration for the character of Buck Mulligan in James Joyce’s Ulysses.

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Young Gogarty was a talented cyclist. In 1901, however, he was banned from the tracks for using bad language. Cycling used to be a sport for gentlemen. At Trinity, he developed his interested in literature and poetry, making the acquaintance of W.B. Yeats and George Moore, and forming a friendship with the up-and-coming James Joyce. In the summer of 1904, Gogarty made arrangements to rent the famous Martello Tower in Sandycove with the ambitious plan of housing ‘the Bard’ (i.e. the pennyless James Joyce).

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Joyce stayed there briefly before leaving abruptly. Joyce was never convinced about the sincerity of Gogarty’s motives. Gogarty made use of the Martello Tower during the following year as a writing retreat and party venue.  Between 1916 and 1918 Gogarty published three small volumes of poetry and an equal number of plays all performed at the Abbey Theatre in Dublin. Most of his output dates from the 1920s and 1930s. In 1924 he published An Offering of Swans followed in1929 by another book of verse, Wild Apples. This was followed in 1933 by Selected Poems.

Gogarty’s name appeared in print as the renegade priest Fr. Oliver Gogarty in George Moore’s 1905 novel The Lake. Dublin remembers this son of the city in another (typical) manner. Designed in late nineteenth century style the Oliver St John Gogarty Bar is located in the heart of Temple Bar.

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1 comment
  1. Wim Van Mierlo said:

    It is correct that Sackville Street was officially changed to O’Connell Street in 1924. The change, however, dates back to 1884, when Dublin Corporation proposed the new name, but it was blocked by a court injunction taken out by local residents. It would seem, though, that the new name was soon in common usage. Joyce never refers to O’Connell Street as Sackville Street, certainly not in Ulysses, not even when it was being serialized from 1918 onwards.

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