A balm of book readings to soothe the soul: that is the unlikely proposition of Sweny’s Pharmacy of Lincoln Place, located appropriately within several hundred yards from where James Joyce met Nora Barnacle for the first time on Nassau Street and just around the corner from Finn’s Hotel where she worked. It was originally built as a GP’s consulting room in 1847 and became a chemists soon after in 1853. Dispensing not tablets today but all things literary, the chemists operates as the Joycean Museum Trust staffed by volunteers and managed by polyglot P.J. Murphy who has reputedly read Ulysses no less than 79 times (and possibly counting). Sweny’s survives on sales of Leopold Bloom’s favourite Lemon’s Soap as well as new and rare books and various fundraising drives. It is regularly used for readings and acts ultimately as a drop-in centre for literature addicts in search of their next fix or just some friendly advice from the wisdom-dispensing counter. It must be said that this unique venture is a welcome antidote to the commercial property fever that has gripped the capital for the past 25 years, not to mention the fact that the chemists goes a long way towards recuperating the image of some big-brand pill-peddlars not exactly known for having the best interests of their clients at heart. Sweny’s is therefore eminently deserving of your support, if even just for a random act of kindness. So when in town, observe prescription as here follows. Instructions: take once daily. Possible side effects: overwhelming aesthetic impulses, sensations of time travel, vague intimations of metempsychosis, stream of consciousness and potentially mollifying feelings of general well-being. Contraindication: do not visit if a fan of D.H. Lawrence. In the event of confusion, drowsiness or other ambiguous sentiments: consult the original text. If you feel better after treatment: return and repeat.
Sweny’s Pharmacy, 1 Lincoln Place, Dublin 2. Tel: 083 457 9688.