1st Edition

Death in Dublin During the Era of James Joyce’s Ulysses

By Patrick Callan Copyright 2025
    392 Pages
    by Routledge

    The funeral of Paddy Dignam in James Joyce’s Ulysses serves as the pivotal event of the “Hades” episode. This volume explores how Dignam’s interment in Glasnevin Cemetery allowed Joyce the freedom to consider the conventions, rituals and superstitions associated with death and burial in Dublin.

    Integrating the words and characters of Ulysses with its figurative locale, the book looks at the presence of Dublin in Ulysses, and Ulysses in Dublin. It emphasizes the highly visible public role assigned to death in Joyce’s world, while also appreciating how it is woven into the universe of Ulysses. The study examines the role of Glasnevin Cemetery—where the Joyce family plot was opened in 1880 and remained in use for eight decades—as well as the social and medical problems associated with life in Dublin, a city divided by class, status, wealth, and health. Nineteen burials took place in Glasnevin on 16 June 1904, and analysis of this group illuminates the role of undertakers and insurers, along with the importance of memorialization.

    This book is an important contribution to Joyce and Irish studies, as well as to international studies related to the treatment of the dead body and the development of garden cemeteries.


    Part A: Developing Ireland’s ‘National’ Cemetery — ‘the grave elders’ (U 12.1185)

    1. Dublin’s New Burial Ground — ‘When churchyards yawn’ (U 6.750)

    2. The Emergence of a National Cemetery — ‘hero martyr’ (U 12.609) 

    3. Managing Dublin’s Largest Cemetery ‘over us dead they bend’ (U 14.393)

    Part B: Living and Dying in Paddy Dignam’s Dublin — ‘wipe away a tear’ (U 11.1101)

    4. On the Edge in Dublin — ‘till their dying day’ (U 13.888–89)

    5. ‘For all things dying’ (U 11.1102)

    Part C: Bringing Paddy Dignam to Glasnevin — ‘great race tomorrow’ (U 6.369)

    6. Death Notices and Mourning Styles — ‘Sufficient for the day’ (U 7.726)

    7. Getting to Glasnevin — ‘Grand Funeral’ (U 18.1093)

    Part D: Burial in Glasnevin — ‘the debt of nature’ (U 12.335)

    8. Burying Paddy Dignam — ‘First the stiff’ (U 6.522–3)

    9. The Joyce Family Plot, 1880–1957 —ends and ultimates’ (U 14.388–89)

    Part E: Interment in Glasnevin, June 16, 1904 — ‘Ashes to ashes’ (U 6.986)

    10. Burial in the Poor Ground — ‘burying the little dead’ (U 6.692) 

    11. Burial in the General Ground — ‘Cry you mercy, gentlemen’ (U 12.1607) 

    Part F: Paying for Paddy Dignam’s funeral — ‘Good Fallback’ (U 5.119)

    12. ‘Isn’t he in the insurance line? (U 8.939)

    13. The ‘chapter of the saints of finance’ (U 15.1419)

    14. Preparing for the ‘last farewell’ (U 12.525)

    Part G: Commemorating Paddy Dignam — ‘We obey them in the grave’ (U 6.126)

    15. Legacies and Bequests — ‘All dead names’ (U 4.222)

    16. Commemorating the dead — ‘as memory fabled it’ (U 2.08)


    Patrick Callan is a Visiting Research Fellow at Trinity College Dublin. His work on Ulysses, and the role of radio in Joyce's work, has appeared in the James Joyce Quarterly (2021), the Historical Journal of Film, Radio and Television (2019), and the Dublin James Joyce Journal (2018-20).