Sweny’s Pharmacy, made famous in Joyce’s Ulysees, faces closure after a nearly twofold hike in commercial rates levied by the City Council.

Situated at No. 1, Lincoln Place, F.W. Sweny & Co. Ltd., Dispensing Chemists, no longer dispenses prescriptions or medication to the ailing populace. Today, the premises serve as a museum, honouring James Joyce, and commemorating Leopold Bloom’s visit to the chemist as detailed in Ulysses, and all the while attracting a truly global audience.

Originally a GP’s consulting room back in the mid 19th century, and later adapted to include an apothecary and then a pharmacy, Sweny’s has changed very little since then, being almost ‘preserved through neglect’ in memory of James Joyce. The Sweny family have long since moved on from the business, but the name still remains.

The chemist ceased trading in 2009, and it was almost by accident that the current set up came into being, with people arriving at the premises looking for the lemony soap made famous by Joyce.

The arcade of Sweny's Pharmacy in Dublin
A reading taking place at Sweny's Pharmacy in Dublin
Sweny’s is now officially registered as a charity, operating as a not for profit entity. It is very reliant on donations and contributions from its supporters and visitors, which, along with a small UNESCO grant, keep the museum open. It is run and maintained entirely by volunteers, dedicated to preserving the shop as it was in Joyce’s time.

On offer you will find a selection of second-hand books, as well as daily readings of the works of Joyce. The shop also stocks a selection of local hand-crafted jewellery, vintage silverware and curios. And, of course, that famous lemon-scented soap!

The charity recently received a bill in excess of €4,000 from the Valuations Office of Dublin City Council in respect of commercial rates, a considerable hike in price from the €1,800 it usually paid. This, combined with the loss of the UNESCO grant, spells out a very bleak future for Sweny’s. A petition has been set up to try and save the museum, and the volunteers will be hoping for a good turnout this Bloomsday, Monday 16th June.

Sweny’s Pharmacy
1, Lincoln Place
Merrion Square
Dublin 2

Tel: 086 050 7995 (mobile)

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All photos © DUBLIN BUZZ


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