Famed Ulysses Pharmacy Faces Taxman


Sweny’s, the pharmacy made famous in Joyce’s Ulysses (when Leopold Bloom visits the Dublin shop to purchase lotion and soap for his wife Molly), opened more than 167 years ago and has remained more or less unchanged for most of that time. In more recent years, it has operated as a museum and a shrine to Joyce. Now, changes in the tax code and reluctance on the part of officials to reclassify the store as a non-commercial property means Sweny’s may not see next year’s Bloomsday. Mark O’Connell reports for Slate:

Wendy Conroy, one of Sweny’s 20 or so volunteers, told me over the phone that the city authorities have been maintaining an “ominous silence” on the matter, despite the increased public and media interest in Sweny’s plight. National Geographic, she told me, sent a photographer to Dublin this week specifically to photograph the shop in its state of Joycean suspension, which has all of a sudden become a precarious one.

Ian MacAllen is the author of Red Sauce: How Italian Food Became American (Rowman & Littlefield, April 2022). His writing has appeared in Chicago Review of Books, Southern Review of Books, The Offing, 45th Parallel Magazine, Little Fiction, Vol 1. Brooklyn, and elsewhere. He tweets @IanMacAllen and is online at IanMacAllen.com. More from this author →