Different churches

From atop the pillar, the two women in Stephen's story "see the roofs and argue about where the different churches are: Rathmines' blue dome, Adam and Eve's, saint Laurence O'Toole's." Looking for such landmarks suggests that Anne Kearns and Florence MacCabe are pious women, but since church spires and domes made up most of the landmarks on Dublin's 1904 skyline, the religious focus may be adventitious. One may also ask why Stephen has chosen these particular churches. The primary reason would seem to be geographic: their divergent angles from the pillar let him evoke the panoramic view that the two women get by walking about the square viewing platform at the top of the pillar. It is remotely possible, though, that Irish political and military history may play a part, since all three churches are associated with English rule and Irish resistance.

John Hunt 2020

Mid-20th century postcard image looking north from Nelson's Pillar with view of several church spires. Source: www.ebay.com.

Our Lady of Refuge church in Rathmines, in a recent photograph. Source: Gareth Collins.

Church of the Immaculate Conception on Merchant's Quay (foreground), in a photograph of unknown date held in the Dublin City Council Photographic Collection. Source: www.dublincity.ie.

St. Laurence O'Toole Catholic Church in a recent photograph. Source: Gareth Collins.

1920 photograph, reproduced in Las Fallon's Dublin Fire Brigade and the Irish Revolution (2012), showing a Dublin Firefighters Brigade firefighter rescuing a work of art from the blazing church in Rathmines. Source: comeheretome.com.

1923 photograph of the new church dome under construction, published in the Irish Times. Source: comeheretome.com.