The Dead by Peter Murphy in Dubliners 100

I have had so much fun reading the original Dubliners alongside the new Dubliners 100 from Tramp Press. It has been great to revisit the masterpiece that is Joyce and also to be introduced to some new stories for the new re-imagined Dubliners 100.

The Dead by Peter Murphy was a story that made me feel anxious before I had even read it but there was no need. Though, it is not entirely shaped by the original, the ending cleverly mimics the original in a bold way. This story is set in a post apocalyptic future and is told in a quirky, first person narrative which works really well. The final few paragraphs, though impossible to better Joyce, are apt. Apt for the end of this story and apt for the end of the collection.

Dubliners 100 is well, well, well worth a read and i would recommend reading the stories side by side as I did. I don’t usually get the time to re-read loved short stories so this was a great opportunity for me. Dubliners 100 is totally and utterly different to the original, in style, theme and setting, at times but it will hold its place in terms of what Ireland is and what it is becoming. Joyce would have enjoyed it.

Dubliners 100 is published by Tramp Press and edited by Thomas Morris.

The Dead by James Joyce

Hard to say anything new about this story but I’ll say I love it, firstly! A very perfect short story with the last few pages building up in the way a short story should do- a little bit of a twist and an understanding of the world is shown through the eyes of Gabriel, the main character.


I love so many things about this story-the fact it is set in snow and winter and Christmas. The quirky dinner party, singing and drunken people.The hugely interesting main characters of Gabriel and Gretta, his wife. The human relationships at the heart of it, the fact that we cannot truly no a person or think we know. The shock of it all.

Peter Murphy takes on this story in the new Dubliners 100. I am almost afraid to read it as I have read many reviews that say the original Dead is not even noticed or referenced in Murphy’s story. I have also read interviews with him where he says he wasn’t phased about this task. I find that odd and wonder if this is the truth. I think when you have the world’s greatest and most well-known short story, that to say you wouldn’t be phased by re imagining it is slighting unnerving to me.

The Dead is the last short story in the Dubliners collection by James Joyce.

Grace-a short story in Dubliners by James Joyce

this story opens with a strange scene. A man, Mr. Kernan has fallen down  stairs in a pub in Dublin city and is unconscious. After much confusion, Mr. Kernan leaves with a friend of his, Jack Power. Mr Kernan seems unable to talk about or remember what has happened.


When they get home, Mr. Kernan goes to bed and Mr. Power speaks to the children and Mrs. Kernan. Mrs Kernan is worried about her husband’s drinking and Mr Power promises to help.

The story then moves to a Jesuit Church service and we hear the priest, Father Purdon speaking.  Mr. Kernan,  Mr. Power, and some other male friends sit by each other. From the red-lit pulpit, Father Purdon preaches and calls himself a spiritual accountant of sorts.

He tells them to count up their sins and compare the sins to their clear conscience. He tells them if this balances, God’s grace will save them if their faults are rectified.

Some nights later, Mr Kernan’s friends visit him to help him to turn over a new leaf and join a Catholic retreat or cleansing service. Mr. Kernan is a former protestant who became a Catholic due to his wife’s pressure but never really accepted the church. His friends reveal their plans for the retreat and start to talk about religion.

Mr. Kernan does agree that he will join the retreat but refuses to light any candles saying that he does not believe in magic.

This story is structured under a framework of  fall, conversion, and redemption in terms of religion.

The story divides up into three pieces and each piece show the process of redemption.

Mr. Kernan is literally the “fallen man.”

The second part of the story looks at Mr. Kernan’s conversion,and his friend’s reliance on big terms and names to make themselves look serious and pious. Is Mr. Kernan’s conversion a sham.

The last part of the story is meant to deal with Mr. Kernan’s “cleansing” yet it doesn’t happen. He goes to church and listens to the priest, but the story does not follow his rise from the fall.

The church is critiqued. It is not a place of healing at all as it should be. Interesting that Father Purdon shares his name with the name of the street that is home to the red-light district, or prostitution area, of Dublin, and his pulpit ha  a red light. All images pointing to sin not redemption.

Joyce is asking if grace can save a man from sin. Mr Kernan has no sin. The priest has no grace either and acts like an accountant. These men are all searching for grace yet never find it. A cycle that goes on and on throughout Dubliners.

Grace is published in Dubliners by James Joyce.

A Mother, a short story by Elske Rahill, Dubliners 100

A Mother, a short story by Elske Rahill, Dubliners 100

Dubliners 100 was an ambitious project. There was always going to be comparisons in style and theme but the more I read, I think the secret to the success of Dubliners 100 is in how well the writer shows us a social commentary of Dublin as it is now.


This is what A mother aims to do. A story of a mother who is quite the middle class and conservative woman. She marries an accountant but would have preferred a solicitor. They obviously don’t love each other yet have children who they send to a Colaiste, where the best Leaving Cert results. Similar to Joyce’s version yet brought brilliantly up to date. We get honest insight into how the education system works in Ireland today. A very truthful look at why parents really send their children to certain schools. It mentions Educate Together and Gaelscoileanna and I think it really hits on the debate of where we send children to be educated. Interesting.

The mother in this story is on the parents’ association of her child’s school, something that probably didn’t exist in Joyce’s Dublin.

The story spirals slightly out of control, ending in a bizarre party where mothers can relive their wedding day. I don’t think it works though I get what the author was trying to do. It has a compares cleverly with the scene at the concert hall in Joyce’s story.

This story succeeds as it has completely caught on one of the “elephants in the room” in terms of social class, education and parenting in Ireland today. Joyce would have been confused and definitely have laughed at these people.

A Mother is available in Dubliners 100 by Tramp Press.



A Mother, a short story by James Joyce

A Mother by James Joyce

A Mother is a brilliantly observed piece of society in Dublin at the time. A mother who has married because she feels she has to. Sends her children to the best schools where they learn French and Gaeilge. They learn piano and the harp. One of the daughters is due to play at a concert but the Mammy is organising and managing everything. We don’t really hear from the daughter. We end on a huge eruption on the part of the mother in front of the other performers at the concert the daughter is meant to be performing at.

a mother

This story has the most to play about with in an updated version. Ireland hasn’t moved on that much. I’ll be looking to see how the middle-class Mammy will be depicted

A Mother by James Joyce is available in Dubliners.

Ivy Day in the committee room by James Joyce

Too much! Again!

My least, least favourite of the lot of Dubliners. Thought this when I read it and think it still.

Ivy Day commemorates Charles Stuart Parnell’s death in 1891 and it takes its name from the Dubliners who, at Parnell’s funeral, wore the ivy growing by his grave in their lapels and this story is saturated with his presence.


It is Ivy Day and we find a group of political canvassers gathering together in a committee room( formerly Parnell’s headquarters) to drink, talk political stuff and wait for their money for their wages. We have a rendition of the poem “The Death of Parnell” towards the end of the story, a poem that basically celebrates Parnell. This poem causes the men to think about their lack of action, in general towards politics and history.

This story is about the death of Irish politics and the way it used to be. The Committee Room in London was where Irish politicians chose not to support Parnell as a leader in December 1890. This destroyed Parnell’s career, and, Joyce’s story suggests, the future hopes of the next generation as well.

The men in this story too are full of betrayal and have beliefs that go all over the place. They focus too much on the past so as there is no action taken. The men are also caught in the paralysis or circle of inactivity. They realise that political energy is needed and call on the spirit of Parnell but they know they will not be able to take this job on. Instead, they sit there, year after year, inactive.

I think I dislike it so much because of its content, the past, history and politics. It is also a highly male story. No women. No emotions. No thoughts for me to ponder.

Eimear Mc Bride was given the short straw with this story, come back to my next post and we will see if her unique writing style can deal with it!

Ivy Day in the committee room by James Joyce is published in Dubliners.


A Painful Case by Paul Murray, Dubliners 100

Paul Murray wrote this story way back before the idea for the new Dubliners 100 was born. It is a thought provoking piece that brings the old Joyce story up to date but retains the themes of loneliness, silence and missed opportunity.


The character in the story, James who feels this great loneliness, does not realise it though. In Joyce’s there is some recognition of where the main character is at. In Joyce’s original, the pop of the story comes when the married lady touches James’ hand. In Murray’s story, the pop of the story too comes with a touch of the hand and it is a revelation to the reader and the main character when it happens.

Murray’s story really reaks of the loneliness and futility of life in a busy, switched on world. Murray has done a great job of making this story his own but while keeping to the original’s feel. Joyce would like and laugh,

A Painful Case by Paul Murray is published in Dubliners 100 by Tramp Press

A painful case by James Joyce

A painful case by James Joyce in Dubliners.

Like the story, Eveline, we see a character waste an opportunity. James meets a married woman, Mrs Sinico. They start to get to know each other, emotionally and mentally, if you know what I mean! their affair is ended by James and a few years later, James receives some bad news about his former lover. He is ultimately left lonely as was she.


Eveline was given a chance to leave Ireland in the short story of her name. James is given a chance to love, connect. But, he misses it.

It is a story, again, of paralysis. The colours of brown and yellow saturate James’ world. His floors, walking stick, food and drink. In this way, Joyce links all of the stories.

This story is another favourite of mine from the Dubliners.

A painful case can be read in the short story collection, Dubliners.

Clay, a short story by Michele Forbes

Conor is the main character in Michele Forbes’ take on Joyce’s short story, Clay. We find him sitting on a luas on the way home. We also find that he is very fat but likeable, some similarities with the original Clay story.


This story has more in common with Belinda McKeon’s story, Counterparts. We see the addictive and obsessive nature of social media. Conor is addicted to facebook and twitter. He lives his life through them. A somewhat overused idea of the overweight person being hooked on the net.

It is Halloween and some trick or treating teenagers arrive at Conor’s door. They are overtly sexual and Conor cannot handle it correctly. The story ends with an unnerving but great scene, a throwback and homage to the original Clay and the song that Maria sings and repeats by mistake. We see the awkwardness replayed here with Conor and the song choice is wonderfully fitting.

A good and interesting take on the story Clay, Michele Forbes seems to have loosely interpreted the theme and story. I enjoyed it.

Clay by Michele Forbes is published in Dubliners 100 by Tramp Press.

Clay, a short story by James Joyce

Clay, a short story by James Joyce.

Joyce works like an engineer in the Dubliners collection. Each story is fit into the last and forecasts the next. Clay follows the dark, angry story of Farrington, a nothing character who causes so much tragedy in his life and others.
When you read Clay the first time, your brain will think “meh”, a nice, gentle story about a gentle woman who likes her cakes. But, go read it again. No, read it three times.
This story has been molded to contrast with the badness of Counterparts, the story before it. But, in many ways,the characters and setting are the same and come to the same conclusion. This story is needed.

Clay can be read in Dubliners by James Joyce. you can download it for free on kindle or buy a physical one for €3!