“The light music of whiskey falling into a glass – an agreeable interlude.” So said Irish novelist and poet James Joyce (1882–1941), whose penchant for drinking is legendary.
In fact, Joyce’s fondness for “bevvies”—an Irish slang word for alcoholic beverages—even spilled over (no pun intended) to his literary creations. In his epic novel, Ulysses, protagonist Leopold Bloom famously says, “Good puzzle would be to cross Dublin without passing a pub.”
A good puzzle indeed, considering that there are well over 1,000 pubs scattered around the Irish capital. But now a Dublin computer programmer working with specially designed software has successfully solved this brainteaser.
Riddles aside, watering holes dedicated to Joyce can be found in many cities where he had lived (like Paris and Zurich), and some to which he had no known connection—Baltimore MD and Tampa FL for example.
In Zurich, where the writer lived from 1915 to 1919, and from 1940 until his death a year later, his devotees still gather at the James Joyce Pub on Pelikanstrasse. The iconic place features furnishings and paneling from Dublin’s Jury’s Antique Bar, which the author had patronized in his youth and subsequently immortalized in Ulysses.
The story of how these artifacts were dismantled and shipped to Zurich is an interesting one: in 1973, the Victorian–era hotel bar was closed, and its premises on Dame Street were to be converted into a bank. A group of Zurich businessmen paid a five-figure sum for all the contents, including marble-top counter, brass foot rails, decorative wall panels, and leadlight window. Everything was shipped to Zurich to grace the pub named after the Dublin-born Joyce.
For any Joyce aficionado who wants to walk—or stagger—the writer’s path of Zurich’s watering holes, there is also the Pfauen Café on Bahnhofstrasse. Now the Movenpick restaurant chain, it used to be the place where the author often held court, while quenching his thirst with a bottle (or more) of white wine.
Though there are no puzzles focusing on Zurich and its bars, at least we now know that it is indeed possible to cross Dublin without passing a pub. Whether James Joyce would have wanted to walk by a watering hole and not stop by is another story.