The James Joyce Tower and Museum is best known for featuring at the beginning of James Joyce’s Ulysses.
The tower today houses a museum which contains letters, photographs and personal possessions of Joyce.
James Joyce Tower Saved From Closure
At one stage, last summer, it seemed that Sandycove’s main attraction, the James Joyce Tower and Museum, would cease to exist. The ‘powers that be’ had determined that the resources necessary to keep it open would no longer be available and, as if this recession had not taken enough from us already, it was, now, to strip us of this wonderful facility of international renown. It was to deal yet another body-blow to our cultural heritage and to our reputation as a land of scholars.
Thankfully, the good people of Sandycove & Glasthule (and its environs) were not prepared to let such a catastrophe befall their beloved tower. They rallied. An organisation of volunteers, the ‘Friends of Joyce Tower Society’ was formed with the objective of keeping the tower and its museum open. With the support of Fáilte Ireland (the tower’s current custodian), the Society now operate the tower and keep it open to the public everyday from 10am to 6pm during the summer season and 10am to 4pm for the winter period. What’s more, they don’t charge for admission – although they do welcome donations!
Since the establishment of the society, the number of visitors to the tower has been between 150-200/day during the summer and around 50-60/day for the winter season. The visitor book, filled with names from all over the world, contains messages of encouragement to the volunteers who chose to give generously of their time for their tower, for their local community and, indeed, for their country.
The tower itself is a great example of the Martello towers built, by the British, in Ireland in the early 19th century to defend against a threatened Napoleonic invasion.
It is also the setting in which the opening of James Joyce’s masterpiece ‘Ulysses’ is set and houses the James Joyce Museum which boasts a unique and wonderful collection of Joycean memorabilia.
It invokes many stories from its literary past (Joyce, St John Gogarty etc), from its construction (as a part of a military defence system) and from its association with the architect, Michael Scott.
Long may the wonderful volunteers continue to keep the flag flying on their iconic tower and allow us all to visit and to enjoy a truly unique Joycean experience.