Closure of James Joyce Tower a major blow to summer tourism

 

THE JAMES Joyce Tower at Sandycove, Co Dublin, is closed to visitors this summer for the first time in more than three decades.

The closure is a major blow to Joyce-related tourism in Dublin and especially to the Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown area.

The Martello tower was open for Bloomsweek, from June 9th to 16th, but had been closed before that and has since closed again. It is normally open from May to September each year.

The closure i due to staffing problems at Fáilte Ireland, the body which now runs the tower.

The curator of the museum at the tower, Robert Nicholson, has been obliged to remain at the Dublin Writers Museum on Parnell Square, where he is based in the off-season. Normally he moves to Sandycove each summer to run the tower, but this year there is no one to replace him at the writers museum.

A spokesman for Fáilte Ireland has indicated that it regards the writers museum as a greater priority, since it is centrally located in Dublin city and attracts a wider range of visitors.

Fáilte Ireland, the body that supports the tourism industry in Ireland, took over the running of the tower this year. Dublin Tourism, which previously ran the tower, was abolished at the start of the year and its functions and staff were merged with Fáilte Ireland.

The Fáilte Ireland spokesman stressed the closure was temporary and it was working to address the problem.

He added the tower was open for visits by appointment.

Fáilte Ireland is at an advanced stage in discussions with Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council for the council to take over the tower and run it in future.

A council spokesman said it was concerned about the closure of the tower and stressed the council’s commitment to the strong literary heritage of the area.

He said discussions were currently taking place between Fáilte Ireland and the council on the future management of the James Joyce Museum in the Sandycove Martello tower and on the possibility of the council taking over responsibility for the tower and museum.

The council indicated works had to be undertaken on the tower but it is understood these are not major and unlikely to affect the proposed transfer. The transfer, if it goes ahead, will not take place before 2013.

Leading Irish Joycean Vivien Igoe, herself a former curator at the tower, described the closure as a disgrace. She said the tower was an important part of Ireland’s heritage and a major and unique landmark in world literature.

The James Joyce Museum at the tower was first opened to the public in 1962 by Sylvia Beach, Joyce’s publisher, so this year is the 50th anniversary of its opening.

It was last closed in 1978 while an extension was being built.