At this point in the quarter, we have spent quite a bit of time exploring Dublin through its literary history as well as geographically. One of the structures in Dublin that I have been particularly intrigued by in that time is the O’Connell Bridge. I spent time learning some interesting facts about it, like how it was renamed from Carlisle Bridge in honor of Daniel O’Connell as well as that fact that is wider than it is long. The bridge has gone through many remodels in addition to its renaming. It used to be made of rope and could only carry one man and one donkey at a time. Obviously, after many years of technological advancements and urbanization, the bridge has been transformed into the concrete structure it is today. Therefore, when reading “The Dead” this week, I was excited to see the bridge mentioned as well as the nod to Daniel O’Connell.
“As the cab drove across O’Connell Bridge Miss O’Callaghan said:
‘They say you never cross O’Connell Bridge without seeing a white horse.’
‘I see a white man this time,’ said Gabriel.
‘Where?’ asked Mr Bartell D’Arcy.
Gabriel pointed to the statue, on which lay patches of snow. Then he nodded familiarly to it and waved his hand.
‘Good-night, Dan,’ he said gaily.”
Except from James Joyce’s “The Dead”
The white man Gabriel refers to is actually the large statue of Daniel O’Connell that stands at the end of the bridge. O’Connell was one of Ireland’s famous political leaders in the 19th century that called for emancipation. In fact, he was referred to as “The Emancipator.” It is definite that this nod to Irish culture and politics plays a role in “The Dead.”