On Bloomsday: A look around Joyce’s Sandycove Martello Tower

It’s the Martello tower here in Sandycove Dublin, where James Joyce briefly stayed in 1904, that provided the opening location to his much celebrated book Ulysses. From here Leopold Bloom would start his legendary day around Dublin. Now each year on June 16th or ‘Bloomsday’ as it’s been known since the first celebration of the day in 1954, Joyceans gather here and follow in the footsteps of the thoughtful protagonist.

The Martello tower, one of around 40 originally built as a defensive structures in anticipation of a Napoleonic invasion, is now a museum to Joyce and is open all year long. Let’s have a look around.

The Tower: Outside the James Joyce Tower at Sandycove

The design of Martello towers dates back to the round defensive towers built in Corsica in around the 16th century and the name is thought to come from Cape Martella.  

“They halted while Haines surveyed the tower and said at last:- Rather bleak in wintertime I should say. Martello you call it?”


A few tiny windows around the tower let some natural light in.

“A man of genius makes no mistakes. His errors are volitional and are the portals of discovery.”


Inside the tower, the room laid out as in the book. And the table set for the very first Bloomsday Breakfast in 1904. This breakfast feast involved liver and kidneys alongside the typical ingredients of an Irish fry up. Yum!

“God made food; the devil the cooks.”


“To learn one must be humble. But life is the great teacher.”


At the top of the tower, Dun Laoghaire pier stretches into the bay.

“The sea, the snotgreen sea, the scrotumtightening sea.”


Sylvia Beach, Joyce’s book publisher and coiner of the phrase ‘Bloomsday’, returned to Dublin on 16 June 1962 for the 58th anniversary of Bloomsday and hoisted the blue flag of Munster with its three golden crowns, to mark the official opening of the Martello Tower in Sandycove as a Joyce Museum. Munster was where Joyce’s father was from.

“The heaventree of stars hung with humid nightblue fruit.”


“Every life is in many days, day after day. We walk through ourselves, meeting robbers, ghosts, giants, old men, young men, wives, widows, brothers-in-love. But always meeting ourselves.”

For more information: James Joyce tower.com

About the Author

Daniel Farrell
Interested in all things on the Irish coast and sharing the best of it. // Email: Daniel@coastmonkey.ie // Follow on Twitter: @DanielsSeaViews