Bringing ‘The Dead’ to life

Barry McGovern reads from Joyce’s classic story as part of a new UCD iPad app

To celebrate the 100th anniversary of Dubliners’ publication – not to mention Bloomsday on Monday, June 16th, here is an opportunity to listen to actor Barry McGovern reading an extract from the final story in Dubliners, The Dead, which is part of the new and improved UCD Humanities James Joyce The Dead App for iPad which can be downloaded for free on iTunes.

The Dead is widely regarded as one of the greatest short stories ever written. Ironically, however, it was not part of James Joyce's original plan for Dubliners. Only the almost interminable delays in getting the original book published prompted Joyce to add the long last story, which he wrote in Rome in 1907.

The Dead is set around the annual musical party held by the Morkan sisters, Miss Kate and Miss Julia, and their niece Mary Jane in their house at Usshers Island on the Liffey in Dublin. The party allows Joyce to assemble an array of vividly conjured characters, notably the drunken Freddie Malins and his fearful mother, and the insistent Irish nationalist Molly Ivers.

But at its heart are the Miss Morkans' favourite nephew Gabriel Conroy, an academic and newspaper critic, and his beautiful wife Gretta. Gabriel's painful self-consciousness, his hovering between superiority and embarrassment, is superbly mapped by Joyce. That anxiety reaches its peak after the party, in the Gresham Hotel, when Gretta, her memories triggered by the earlier singing of the tragic love song, The Lass of Aughrim, recalls the death of a boy who loved her when she was a girl in Galway. The story ends with one of the most famous passages in literature, the evocation through Gabriel's unsettled mind of snow falling on "all the living and the dead".


Athena Media, which produced McGovern’s narration, has been shortlisted for the Best Narration award as part of the New York Festival’s World’s Best Radio Programs Award. The app was designed in Dublin by Vermillion Design.

The app includes • Contemporary map showing key story locations and additional period photos • Improved audio and improved text navigation • The recorded reading by Barry McGovern of the full text of The Dead • Podcasts which contextualise the story by commentators such as Catriona Crowe, Mary Daly and Gerardine Meaney about Joyce, Dubliners, and the Dublin of the time • Many wonderful rare and unseen images of Dublin at the time • A video performance of The Lass of Aughrim filmed in the house on Usher’s Island