Sweny’s pharmacy sits at the top of Westland Row looking down towards Pearse Street. (Yes, I had to look up the name of Westland Row. I don’t know any street names in Dublin. In my head it’s “that street that runs out the back of Trinity.) Sweny’s is a little, inoffensive storefront that might only stand out for the Joyce-inspired windows. Indeed, if you are a Ulysses fan, Sweny’s will definitely be on your tour through Dublin’s Fair City. In the novel, it is famous for it’s “sweet lemony” soaps.
Sweny’s still sells said soap. I own a bar, but have not had the pleasure of using it. Instead, it is an important piece of our “gifted soaps gallery” over the bathtub. It does smell, faintly, of sweet lemons even still.
Sweny’s is less a pharmacy these days and more of a hot bed of Joyce paraphernalia. There are books lining it’s shelves. All the glass cases and shelving are original to the pharmacy. There is a chalkboard in one window announcing the times and dates of Ulysses readings (they are weekly), next to a portrait of Joyce’s wife, Nora. A portrait of the man himself sits sideways in the other window. Mr. Joyce’s portrait has a lovely view of the comings and goings of the pub across the road. He is also surrounded by toast racks and tea cups. If that is some kind of Ulysses inside joke, it goes over my head.
Sweny’s is a sweet little relic and heaven for the Joyceian tourists in your life. Well worth a pop in.