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Episode 1
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Synopsis by Gerry O'Flaherty

Martello Tower Sandycove

The action of Ulysses opens at 8 am on 16 June 1904 in the Martello Tower in Sandycove, which is about 10 kilometres south of Dublin.

Three young men are living there - Stephen Dedalus, a moody poet who returned some months previously from a stay in Paris; Buck Mulligan, a witty medical student and friend of Stephen; and Haines, an English friend of Mulligan at Oxford and an Irish language enthusiast.

Mailboat clearing the Harbour

Mulligan is shaving and is joined by Stephen whom he reproves for his failure to comply with his dying mother's wishes. Stephen already feels guilty about this. While they are at breakfast, which Mulligan has prepared, an old woman delivers milk. Mulligan then decides to go for a swim and all three leave the Tower.

View from the Forty Foot

On the way to the bathing place Haines and Stephen talk about Stephen's theory of Hamlet. Before Stephen leaves to teach at a nearby school Mulligan asks him for two pence for a pint and the key to the Tower. Stephen wonders if he will be welcome to stay there much longer, even though it was he who paid the rent.

In the Homeric correspondence, Telemacus, in the absence of his father Odysseus, sees his wealth being usurped by others just as Mulligan and Haines are taking over the Tower from Stephen. '

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William Bulfin, in his 1908 travelogue Rambles in Eireann, gives the following account of a visit he made to the tower at Sandycove in September 1904:

On a lovely Sunday morning in the early autumn two of us pulled out along the road to Bray for a day's cycling in Dublin and Wicklow. We intended riding to Glendalough and back, but we were obliged to modify this programme before we reached Dalkey, owing to a certain pleasant circumstance which may be termed a morning call. As we were leaving the suburbs behind us my comrade, who knows many different types of Irish people, said casually that there were two men living in a tower down somewhere to the left who were creating a sensation in the neighbourhood. They had, he said, assumed a hostile attitude towards the conventions of denationalisation, and were, thereby, outraging the feeling of the seoinini.One of them had lately returned from a canoeing tour of hundreds of miles through the lakes, rivers, and canals of Ireland, another was reading for a Trinity degree, and assiduously wooing the muses, and another was a singer of songs which spring from the deepest currents of life. The returned marine of the canoe was an Oxford student, whose button-hole was adorned with the badge of the Gaelic League-a most strenuous Nationalist he was, with a patriotism, stronger than circumstances, which moved him to pour forth fluent Irish upon every Gael he encountered, in accents blent from the characteristic speech of his alma mater and the rolling blas of Connacht. The poet was a wayward kind of genius, who talked with a captivating manner, with a keen, grim humour, which cut and pierced through a topic in bright, strong flashes worthy of the rapier of Swift. The other poet listened in silence, and when we went on the roof he disposed himself restlessly to drink in the glory of the morning. It was very pleasant up there in the glad sunshine and the sweet breath of the sea. We looked out across to Ben Edair of the heroic legends, now called Howth, and wondered how many of the dwellers in the "Sunnyville Lodges" and "Elmgrove Villas" and other respectable homes along the hillside knew aught of Finn and Oisín and Oscar. We looked northwards to where the lazy smoke lay on the Liffey's bank, and southwards, over the roofs and gardens and parks to the grey peak of Killiney, and then westwards and inland to the blue mountains.