Sweny’s, at the top of Westland Row, is a pharmacy featured in James Joyce’s Ulysses. Joyce’s main character, Leopold Bloom buys lemon soap in the shop.
In recent years a team of volunteers have turned the shop into a shrine of sorts. They have restored the shop to appear as it would have done in Joyce’s time, with the lemon soap as the centre piece.
They also sell books and host weekly readings. “Thursdays are good,” one volunteer explained. “We read Ulysses, and afterwards we slip across the road to the pub.”
Joyce’s popularity is at an all time high. “I’m not a Joyce scholar now,” the same volunteer said, “I’d refer to myself as a Joyce enthusiast…It’s the breadth of his knowledge and reference.”
Whatever the motivations of such Joyce enthusiasts, celebrations of his work, and indeed of the man himself, seem to be increasing every year, but for those who aren’t interested in fancy dress and extravagant displays of Joycean verbosity – yet who admire the work – Sweny’s is the perfect halfway house.