Places Discussed

(Critical Guide to Settings and Places in Literature)


*Chapelizod. Small town on the banks of Ireland’s River Liffey, described as “the gayest and prettiest of the outpost villages in which old Dublin took a complacent pride.” Chapelizod serves as the setting for several of Le Fanu’s early ghost stories, and like other Irish country towns in his fiction, its mundane character helps throw into sharp relief the extraordinary experiences of individual townsfolk.

At first, the town seems the picture of country charm and simplicity. The narrator, reviewing his fond childhood memories of the place, imagines it even quainter a century before with many comforting features: a mix of orchards and formally planted poplar trees along the river banks, “merry” streets lined by houses with colorful doors, cozy inns and public houses in which the locals congregate, and a church that serves the entire populace. Banquets, parties, and fairs provide regular diversions. Although Chapelizod is home to a variety of people, its social life is centered around a local regiment of the Royal Irish Artillery, which at the time of the story is not engaged in battle and seems less a military presence than a social class seamlessly woven into the fabric of town life. The foibles and eccentricities of the soldiers do not differ from those of the rustics native to the town, and Chapelizod seems to nurture their more amusing personality quirks.

Despite the appearance of harmony it projects, Chapelizod is not without problems. The story...

(The entire section is 621 words.)