The James Joyce House of the Dead is one of Dublin’s most interesting literary and historic buildings and is the place where Joyce set his famous short story, “The Dead”, and where director John Huston located his film of the story.
The man behind restoring the house – Brendan Kilty – had previously saved Sweny’s, the pharmacy in Clare Street immortalised in “Ulysses” (where Leopold Bloom purchased a bar of lemon soap). At the turn of the millennium Brendan acquired the then derelict, burnt out and roofless 15 Usher’s Island. His mission was simple – to restore the house to its condition as of 1904 and to recreate the dinner party scene as described in “The Dead”. With the aid of an army of volunteers, supporters and friends across the globe, that dream was realised.
Sadly, the “dark gaunt house on Usher’s Island” has been sold on the instructions of receivers, and the property is now closed. Brendan Kilty filed for bankruptcy in the UK in 2012 and a large sum of money is owed to Ulster Bank in connection with the property. The building has since been approved for conversion into a tourist hostel.
According to an Irish Times news report (12/4/2017), 15 Usher’s Island was built around 1775 for Joshua Pim (who had a business in the adjoining house, number 16). “During the 1890s the upper floors of the building were rented by Joyce’s maternal great-aunts, who ran a music school and, most notably, held the Christmas parties that provide the scene for The Dead.”
15 Usher’s Island, Dublin 8