Is It Too Late to Save the House of ‘The Dead’?

A major literary landmark is rotting in a UNESCO City of Literature

Dr. Casey Lawrence
Digital Global Traveler

--

Irish actors Osaro, Katie O’Kelly, Donal O’Kelly, Marion O’Dwyer, Rachael Dowling, Stephen Rea, Maria Hayden, Madi O’Carroll, and Sinead Murphy, protest outside 15 Usher’s Island. Source: ‘Protest held outside James Joyce’s ‘House of the Dead’ over plans to turn it into hostel’ June 15, 2021 [x].

The final story of James Joyce’s Dubliners, titled “The Dead,” takes place at Number 15 Usher’s Island in Dublin, once home to his great aunts who inspired the story by hosting extravagant dinner parties in the stunning Georgian townhouse in the 1890s. A tale of hospitality, miscommunication, and marital strife, “The Dead” has been described as “one of the world’s best short stories,” although at almost 16,000 words long, it is really more of a novella. More than twice the length of any other story in Dubliners, “The Dead” is an extremely detailed and moving story that will be familiar to generations of English majors studying literary modernism, realism, and turn-of-the-century literature.

The house of “The Dead,” 15 Usher’s Island, has been a protected historical building since 1987. That status unfortunately did not save it from falling into disrepair, becoming home to squatters and addicts after a fire ravaged the once-beautiful interior. It sat empty and unloved for two decades, waiting to be restored.

Salvation seemed at hand when the building was bought in 2000 by Brendan Kilty, a lawyer who hoped to restore the house to its former glory and turn it into a museum and visitor’s centre called the…

--

--

Dr. Casey Lawrence
Digital Global Traveler

Canadian author of three LGBT YA novels. PhD from Trinity College Dublin. Check out my lists for stories by genre/type.