Bruce Arnold

Critic of Public Affairs, writing about art, theatre, music and politics

Louis MacNeice’s Struggles with Ireland

After a first visit to the city a friend of Louis MacNeice’s said to him: ‘Dublin? Dublin! There’s no such place. It’s just one enormous pub.’ MacNeice said this about one of his last visits, in June of 1962, for the opening of the Joyce Tower at Sandycove. ‘At a conservative estimate the drinking during my seven days averaged twelve hours a day’.

The opening, by Sylvia Beach, came towards the end of his stay. His drinking companion for much of the time was Dominic Behan. The morning of Bloomsday was spent in Davy Byrne’s and when they emerged, hoping for a seat in one of the two cabs freshly painted in black and yellow, they found them full. The two men loaded a crate of Guinness into a taxi and set off, one of them brandishing a bottle out of the left-hand window, the other waving one out of the right-hand side. At the Martello tower, MacNeice was said to have stationed himself at the entrance to the marquee ‘in easy reach of the passing drink-trays’. Read More...