Concerning Joyce's "Eveline," one cannot speak for the author, but can only deal with the effects of the story itself.
The story furthers one of the themes revealed in the short story collection, Dubliners, from which "Eveline" comes: paralysis.
Eveline is trapped in a stagnant, negative existence. Ignorance and alcoholism and sexism and abuse dominate her life. She longs to escape, but even when she has an opportunity, she freezes at a critical moment and can't bring herself to leave. She has a chance to escape, but she rejects it.
She is figuratively paralyzed.
This, apparently, is how Joyce views the inhabitants of Dublin, and by extension, the inhabitants of Ireland and the rest of the world. We live paralyzed lives, and even when we have a chance to escape, we are afraid to do so.
Joyce, then, we assume, is attempting to correct Irish attitudes and behaviors, although, again, one should be careful about speaking for any author.