One story about James Joyce I hadn’t come across before – even when I was growing up in Cork – concerned a business trip he carried out to the ‘real’ Capital back in 1909. In league with some Trieste-based businessmen, Joyce had come searching for a suitable place to open a cinema. Finding no suitable premises in Cork however, he returned to Dublin where he subsequently opened the ‘Volta Electric Cinema’ in December that same year.
Sadly, although he displayed a level of entrepreneurship ahead of his time, Joyce’s lack of gritty business acumen meant that Ireland’s first commercial cinema was a failure, closing down in April the following year and sold at a loss a few months later.
I came across this story through a link to Cork’s Crawford Gallery where they’re marking the centenary of Joyce’s Ulysses with an exhibition called ‘Odyssey’ that examines Joyce’s connections to Cork and – more vaguely – a consideration of how odysseys or journeys have been portrayed in art over the years. The exhibition includes artworks from over thirty artists, including works of historical figures like James Barry and more contemporary artists such as Brian Maguire and Aoife Desmond.
The exhibition is centred around a six-minute documentary call James Joyce: Framed in Cork. This follows an investigation by a Department of English lecturer at UCC (University College Cork) of Joyce’s connections to the city.
You can find a link to the exhibition here at Joyce Exhibition and it’s on until the third of April). Even if you have no interest in the exhibition, I highly recommend the teas rooms for a catch-up friends.
As Joyce himself said:
What is better than to sit at the end of the day with friends – or substitutes for friends.