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British Element Trieste Force 1945 - 1954
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I meant to put this on on the 16th after Roy's post reminded me of a Bloomsday trip I made some years ago with two pals.

I had just got my first boat, a Sihouette 3, a 17 foot 3 sailing cruiser and, with Brian and Siggy, set out late on the Friday night, 15th of June, from Traeth Coch in Anglesey to sail to Dun Laoghaire (pronounced Dun Leary) to arrive about 12 hours later in time for Bloomsday. Apparently much of the action of James Joyce's Ulysses,(perhaps all of it for all I know)is set in Dun Loaghaire. He wrote part of it when he was teaching English in Trieste.

It wasn't my idea. I would rather go to the dentist than read a book like that. It's on a par with Tate Modern - art without skill or meaning, Mark Rothko, Tracy Emin etc, music without tunes - but both Brian and Siggy seemed to know it by heart. Surprising really; they had both left school at 14 after receiving all their knowledge of such things at the gentle and cultured hands of the Christian Brothers at a Wigan Elementary School. (They both went on to teach themselves to Advanced Level and then to get professional qualifications at university). I had met both of them some years ago in a cave in the Llanberris Pass where climbers bivouaced.

We picked up a mooring off the Royal Irish Yacht Club where we were made welcome, being given an engraved card saying "We welcome the gentlemen living aboard the Yacht Pegasus... " We gentlemen were living like pigs in the cramped little cabin which had only two berths, cooking on a primus and crapping in a bucket - not at the same time.

The best part of the weekend for me was not the Martello Tower, although the other two seemed to think that was important, but where we researched the Molly Bloom Bar.

Molly Bloom, by the way, is said to be based on Norah Barnacle! Joyce's wife. (Usually it's the fictional character that gets the funny name) but it's more likely that she was based on Amelia Popper a lass that Joyce tutored in Trieste. That makes sense because her father's name was Leopold - the forename also of Mr Bloom.

I remember the homecoming because we were arrested in Holyhead.

The wind had turned Easterly and 17 foot boats don't go well to windward and the forestay parted almost as soon as we hoisted the foresail. It had also started to part the stemhead fitting from the foredeck. Siggy and Brian had to be back early on Monday morning so we caught the Sunday night ferry. Planning to come back the following weekend with bolts, tools and a new forestay.

As we disembarked in Holyhead - this was at the height of the IRA bombing campaign we were stopped by a customs officer with back up. I think I look fairly innocuous but the other two were big, burly men and I was carrying the only luggage, a canvas hold-all containing some dirty underclothes and a brass fire-extinguisher which Siggy had "borrowed" from the office.

The customs officer pulled aside the underpants and saw the brass cylinder underneath, blanched, cleared us all out of the room and called for the bomb disposal people.

It was all explained in the end and one of the officers who lived near Traeth Coch gave us a lift back there.

But I still haven't read Ulysses.


I was very interested to read your post Bloomsday and the references to James Joyce - Dubliners - and Trieste. I remember when I was in Trieste at TSO (1952 -1954) going to hear a lecture there by his brother Stanislaus Joyce mainly about 'The Dubliners' and 'The Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man'. I think this was my first introduction to Joyce's works and I still have the copy of the Dubliners that I bought then in Trieste. Just one of the many things, like learning Italian at the army's expense that made my time in National Service enjoyable and not at all a waste of time.


Roy, we must have several watchers that we don't know about as well as our own 130+. This morning I had a phone call from Siggy who now lives in New South Wales and who obviously looks into our site. He had the misfortune to go into the Air Force for his National Service and his overseas experience took him to the Isle of Man. He was surprised to see that he'd got a mention.

Anyhow he reminded me of two things about our Bloomsday trip to Ireland.

First , our sophisticated electronic navigational system. I had borrowed my mother's old and heavy "portable" valve radio which had a dipole aerial. When it was aligned on a Radio Direction Finding station the signal station faded to null so, placing it on the chart, we could get cross bearings from Bush Mill in N. Ireland to the North and from the Kish Light, which was at the entrance to Dublin Bay to the west.

Second, coming from our pig sty existence on the boat to meet the Secretary of the Royal Irish Yacht Club, we were served coffee in a silver service by the club butler, " a feller in a claw hammer jacket with a tea towel over his arm" as Brian described him.

Several people asked us if, as things were, we thought it wise to fly the Red Ensign - which we did during the hours of daylight with the Irish flag as a courtesy flag at the starboard crosstree - but there was no sign of animosity and many of friendship and welcome.