(BL) Martin Gemmell’s Bloomsday Memories

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Do you have memories of wild or wistful Bloomsdays? You might be hard-pressed to match the Bloomsday tales of His Excellency Martin Gemmell whose stories rival a JP Donleavy novel. His recorded for our enjoyment trickle in a perfect pour from the stream of consciousness tap. If you care to add to an online posting of Mid-June Lore post here or as a Comment  [JamesJoyceReadingCircle.com], email or Message me via Facebook. Self-incrimination is discouraged. Brevity Is a plus.

John Ryan the publican who bought the door to 7 Eccles St. which used to be on the wall of The Bailey the bar across from Davy Byrne’s was also at the Event [Bloomsday Celebration #1]. I once drank whisky at 8 A.M. Sandycove time with @Cormac O’Hanrahan for a BBC documentary on John Ryan. When the door went up on the wall It was declared officially closed @Des Gunning was that Sen D Norris? I think it was P Kavanagh said that, in 1967, the year of the Raglan Road affair. It was the Alan Yentob Arena team making the documentary. Given we started on whisky at 8 it is hardly surprising the footage could not be assembled into a coherent Programme.

They say the great architect of the Joyceverse ( it’s like the metaverse, only it got there first) never closes one door but it opens another. In that vein, here’s the keys to No 35 North Great George’s Street, just around the corner from the then demolished No 7 Eccles Street, given. The recipient, David Norris, had by then not yet (though very soon after) been elected to become, as he has become and is now, away alone the longest serving member of the Irish bicameral parliament’s upper house. The disponer, acting for the Lord Mayor of  Dublin, was Councillor Alice Glenn, who, I’ve been advised by diverse sources, happened to live in, or immediately adjacent to, John Stanislaus Joyce’s penultimate address in Drumcondra. Councilor and sometime Deputy Glenn is perhaps better remembered for having appeared to Christy Moore in a folksy sort of dream, one recorded in song, involving a jacuzzi, after which appearance said Mr. Moore said he’d never, ever drink again. Do I digress? Very well then, I digress!


Pictured: Tony Gregory TD at ‘the keys to, given’ ceremony on Bloomsday 1982. . We may never know definitively, but my intuition is that a certain mania for demolishing anything built before 1916 entered the soul of Dublin Corporation in the run-up to the jubilee of the Easter Rising in 1966, informed by the tragic Bolton Street and Fenian Street collapses of June 1963. I think that zeal for road-widening and surface car parks only ended when the ‘Gregory Deal’ shaped the program for an incoming government, becoming operative on 9 March 1982. The handing over of the key to No 35 North Great George’s Street just 13 weeks later marks the first instance I can think of, where a property scheduled for demolition by the Corporation was granted a reprieve. Today, of course, the building isn’t only magnificently restored itself, it’s also lifted the neighbourhood: a vicinity that was then derelict is now a designated Architectural Conservation Area!

I had a pint one Bloomsday afternoon in the Ormond hotel, when there used to be an Ormond hotel, with said Mr Ryan. Curley Mullen was in the company also. That’d have been in, or not long out of, the 80s.

A lovely montage. Just for you, the teapot seller. I’m the first city Mall on Stephen’s Green Center where we backed the second horse in the James Joyce lookalike competition. Mr. Keiran Daly bribed the Garda. Just with teapot vouchers. As they came, me across from the Ormond pissing into the Liffey. In my defense, the pop group he was managing at the time had rolled a mary Jane number inside a normal cigareete. Under the door to 7 Eccles St in the Bailey earlier in the day. All gone now alas. Well, the Bailey still a bar and restaurant, but No Door.

’88 was the year we saw Gerty MacDowell at Sandymount in the evening. No funny business tho. And Had bricks thrown at us in Monto at midnight for being Bloody Bloomers. 

Des, Cormac and Mr Hood will contribute. we have been meeting up over the years on 16th June. it is Des’s wedding anniversary. Google Gay Byrne Late Late Show Eartha Kitt and you will see Eartha picking on Des in the audience with Tina next to him in the floral dress. funny but also excruciating. Go, Eartha. I saw her as Molly Bloom at Edinburgh Festival. Lot to remember.


…his beer bottle pockets for sure. A gem of a man saved by a Saint of a wife.

I was once embraced by Americans in The Claddagh Bar near the original Barney Kiernans as they had been waiting all day for for a recitation and got my version of The Citizen which I give in an Rev. Ian Paisley Ulster accent for some reason.

The last time I went over was maybe 2016. My wife Sally said don’t forget we have the concert last week of term (she was teaching the older primary kids that year and they had a show). I bought the cheap tickets and just before going. Sally said the concert was early on Bloomsday. She managed to put another show on at 9 A.M. Friday. I was out of Dublin airport 5 A.M. given Poteen by the reveling football fans, took a taxi from airport to show. Was a great show, only cost me £100 for the early ticket and a reasonably restrained Bloomsday. The one before that was wilder with Des enlisting the very tall drag queen Panti Bliss into the mix.

2 thoughts on “(BL) Martin Gemmell’s Bloomsday Memories

    1. “Licensed Logic” is lauded here. In fact, you’re being praised from here to there and beyond. Thanks again and again for getting this started, Martin. There could have been no better picaresque as a kick-off. As for me, I had to take oxygen after reading every paragraph.

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