The People of Gibraltar
1885 - James Joyce - Molly Bloom’s Gibraltar - Part 2
. . . Then the same old reveille for in the morning and drums rolling and the unfortunate poor devils of soldiers . . . smelling the place more than the old longbearded jews in their jellibees  . . . and gunfire for the men to cross the lines and the warden marching with his keys to lock the gates, . . .
The locking of the gates refers to what was then an every day event in which the four land entrances to Gibraltar from Spain (see LINK) were securely locked for the night. It was called - and is still - The Ceremony of the Keys and its origin dates from the Great Siege which began in 1779. (See LINK) The ceremony was brought back in 1933 and now takes place about once a year.


The Casemates – the square in which the Ceremony of the Keys takes place  (1870s )

Being a military ritual the Ceremony required large numbers of troops to carry it out properly which meant that the soldiers had to march from their barracks through Main Street (see LINK) to Casemates Square where the locking of the gates took place. These columns of unwashed soldiery – who inevitably left their peculiar stink as they marched through - were known locally for unknown reasons as la retreta.


The Casemates Gates being rather unceremoniously locked during WW II

Apropos to the locking of the gates, non-residents were warned as to when they had to leave or were allowed to enter Gibraltar by the firing of an evening and a morning gun at times which varied with the seasons. Spaniards going back home after a day’s work on the Rock crossed the isthmus from the British lines in the south to the Spanish ones in the north – and of course vice versa in the mornings. As regards those "jellibees", Molly probably meant Djellabas which of course were worn by Arabs rather than Jews. 


A couple of Moorish traders in front of their shop in Main street watching the world go by   (Very early 20th century )


And another two 
. . . Mrs Rubio brought it in with the coffee . . . she could never get over the Atlantic fleet coming in half the ships of the world and the Union Jack flying  . . . because 4 drunken English sailors took all the rock from them and because I didn’t run into mass often enough in Santa Maria  . . .
“English sailors” did take the Rock. They did so in 1704 on behalf of the pretender to the throne of Spain.  There were more than 4 of them of course – more like 4000 perhaps - and they were not alone. Quite a few Dutchmen, Spaniards and Catalans also took part. Some of them may have been drunk - if not while taking the place certainly soon after they had. 

All major histories of Gibraltar – and especially modern ones – tend to over-elaborate the details on this one. But then most histories of Gibraltar were written by British historians – many of them military men – and this was in their view – one of the the main event. The Great Siege was the other. The “English” won in both cases and Gibraltar has been British to this day.

Being a Catholic Molly would have attended mass – who knows how often – in the main Catholic Church which was called “Santa Maria” or to give it its English name the Cathedral of St Mary the Crowned. (See LINK
. . . Mulvey . . . I saw him following me in Calle Real . . . he was the first man kissed me under the Moorish Wall . . .
Calle Real was the original Spanish name for Main Street, Gibraltar’s principal thoroughfare. The name is still used locally. Jack Harry Mulvey – probably a lieutenant - was Molley’s first love – some say her one and only true love.



A curiously empty Calle Real in the mid 1880s - It is invariably described in the literature as an extremely bustling place thronged with people of every nationality. My guess is that the photographer chose his moment – the long-exposures shots used by the cameras of the day made it hard to capture moving objects   ( 1880s - G. Washington Wilson ) (See LINK

South of the main town two walls traverse the Rock from the top to the sea. The more famous one is Charles V Wall the other not quite as imposing and somewhat further north is Phillip II Wall. In Molly’s day, very little was known about this second wall and it was usually referred to – incorrectly - as the Moorish Wall. (See LINK) It is rather hard to say where exactly Molly snatched her first kiss.


( Early 19th century -  W.H. Smyth )
. . . Id like a new fellow every year up on the tiptop under the rock gun near O’Hara’s tower I told him it was struck by lightning and all about the old Barbary apes . . . . Mrs Rubio said she was a regular old rock scorpion robbing the chickens out of Inces Farm (see LINK) and throw stones at you if you went anear . . .
The tower was also known O’Hara’s Folly. It had been ordered to be built by the Governor General Charles O’Hara  (see LINK) in the early 19th century. He thought it would allow him to spy on ship movements in Cadiz. He seems to have forgotten that there quite a few mountains in between that blocked the view.  


O’Hara’s Folly can just be seen under cloud on the very last and tallest pinnacle of the Rock – the Rock Gun is on the left of the picture and out of view  ( Mid 19th century – William Lacy ) (See LINK

Sergeant-Major Ince was the man responsible for suggesting the construction of the Galleries or military tunnels inside the Rock during the Great Siege – a must for the modern Gibraltar tourist. Ince was given a farm for his efforts. The “famous” monkeys were as always, interesting to the tourists and detested by the locals. (See LINK

A rather cleaned up version of St George’s Hall, one of the main attractions inside the Galleries - President Ulysses Grant was invited to a rather chilly meal inside this place by the Governor Lord Napier during a winter visit  ( Late 19th century – From a German Magazine )
. . . I was tired we lay over a firtree cove a wild place I suppose it must be the highest rock in existence the galleries and casemates and those frightful rocks and st Michael’s Cave and the icicles or whatever they call them and ladders all the mud plotching my boots I am sure that’s the way the monkeys go under the sea all the way to Africa when they die the ships out far like chips  and that was the Malta boat passing . . .  
There was never a cove called firtree in Gibraltar but there was a Fig-Tree Cave.  It can be found right up the south-eastern cliff where the Rock is at its highest. The only cove visible from here would have been Sandy Bay. (See LINK

St Michael’s Cave is on the western side and not far from the Fig-Tree cave. It was always a much visited place although not as much as it is today when there is no need for ladders or the soiling ones boots – as long as one keeps to the main part of the cave. Its main attraction is its impressive stalagmites and stalactites – or "icicles" according to Molly. 



St Michael's Cave explored by Naval Officers    ( 1884  )

The old chestnut about there being a passageway from St Michael's running right under the Straits to the Barbary Coast is pure myth. The Chronicle was the Gibraltar Chronicle (see LINK) Gibraltar’s official newspaper. In the early 19th century it was a military-owned and military-minded news sheet and was unashamedly used as a mouthpiece for the British authorities. The local called it la Cronica. Most of them couldn’t afford it. Many of the rest couldn’t read English.


The building on the right was the place where the Gibraltar Chronicle was printed – the larger building behind it was the Garrison Library (See LINK) – the local were not allowed to be members   ( Late 19th century  )
. . . you might say they would put an article on it in the Chronicle. .  I blew up the old bag the biscuits were in from Benady Bros and exploded it . . . we went over middle hill round by the old guardhouse and the Jews burial ground . . . She might have given me a better name the Lord knows after the lovely one she had Lunita Laredo and fun we had running along Willis road to Europa Point . . .
Mordejai and Samuel Benadi ran a bakery in Engineer Lane, a road that ran to the east of and more or less parallel to Main Street. The trip from Middle Hill which lies at the top of the Rock, to the Jews Cemetery which is found at sea level on the isthmus at North Front must have been quite a long walk. A run from Willis’s Road which is in the north side of the city to Europa Point, the most southerly place on the Rock would also have been a long one.


Military men and a few civilians in an oddly posed photograph with the light house at Europa Point as a background    ( Late 19th Century - National Archives )  (See LINK)
. . . there was no decent perfume to be got at in that Gibraltar only that cheap peau de espagna that faded and left a stink on you . . .
The perfume is mentioned rather less critically by Molly elsewhere in Ulysses as peau d’espagna with the suggestion that it smelled of orange flowers. No idea why the change of mind.
. . . I went up Windmill hill to the flats that Sunday morning with Captain Rubio. . . I could see almost to Morocco almost the Bay of Tangier white and the Atlas mountains with snow on it and the straits like a river so clear . . . 
The Bay of Tangier and Mount Abyla - part of the lesser Atlas Mountains and some say the Southern Pillar of Hercules (see LINK) - can indeed be seen from Windmill Hill plateau in clear weather. Rubio is a local surname but it is very unlikely that any local would have been a captain of anything.


The view from Windmill Hill across the Straits to Mount Abyla - Tangier would be well to the right and Ceuta to the left


1921 - James Joyce - Ulysses and Gibraltar – Introduction (See LINK)
1885 - James Joyce - Molly Bloom’s Gibraltar - Part 1 (See LINK)
1885 - James Joyce - Molly Bloom’s Gibraltar - Part 3 (See LINK)