Seeing Dublin in full Bloom
Saturday is Bloomsday, and while many of the places Joyce mentioned in ‘Ulysses’ are gone, several are still there, with alternatives for the absentees.
Episode one: Telemachus
The Martello Tower, Sandycove
Greet the morning gently with a guided tour of the Martello where Ulysses opens, and an early initiation into Bloomsday with readings by Barry McGovern and Brenda McSweeney. James Joyce Museum, Martello Tower, Sandycove; June 16th, 8am-6pm
Episode two: Nestor
The School, Summerfield, Dalkey Avenue
Dander up Dalkey Avenue to Dalkey Heritage Centre for a re-enactment of Mr Deasy’s school scene, and take a guided walk around the village afterwards.
Dalkey Heritage Centre, June 16th, 3.30pm
Episode three: Proteus
Take the Dart towards the city, stopping off for a saunter “into eternity” amid the “seaspawn and seawrack” of Sandymount Strand. Or join the Crusaders Athletic Club for their annual charity Bloomsday Beach Run. Starting point: Sean Moore Park end of Sandymount Strand, June 21st, 7.30pm
Episode four: Calypso
The Gresham Hotel
The original breakfast took place at home at 7 Eccles Street, but there’s an opportunity to refuel with a proper Joycean breakfast in the Gresham ballroom.
Like Leopold Bloom, eat “with relish the inner organs of beasts and fowls . . . thick giblet soup, nutty gizzards, a stuffed roast heart, liver slices fried with crustcrumbs, fried hencod’s roes . . . grilled mutton kidneys”, which will give to your “palate a fine tang of faintly scented urine”.
The Gresham Hotel, June 16th, 9am and 11am
Episode five: Lotus Eaters
Pop into “freckle faced” Sweny’s on Lincoln Place for an impromptu reading and to pick up your tickets for its musical extravaganza at the Mont Clare Hotel. Take tea in the Lincoln Inn, formerly Finn’s Hotel, where Joyce met Nora Barnacle for the first time on June 16th, 1904.
Events daily at Sweny’s, June 12th-16th; Sweny’s Does Bloomsnight, Mont Clare Hotel, June 16th, 7pm
Episode six: Hades
Join the cortege to Glasnevin Cemetery for Paddy Dignam’s funeral. Listen in to a rehearsed reading from Hades by the Dublin Shakespeare Performance Group, and while you are at it, stick around for a Joycean tour with Shane Mac Thomáis.
Glasnevin Cemetery, June 16th. Reading: 12pm. Tour: 1.30pm
Episode seven: Aeolus
‘Freeman’s Journal’/‘Evening Telegraph’ office, Prince’s Street
Bloom worked here, selling adverts. The paper is long gone, of course, but in his honour you could stroll on to O’Connell Street and buy a newspaper from the newspaper vendors there. The Irish Times, of course.
Episode eight: Laestrygonians
Davy Byrne’s Pub
Leech about Davy Byrne’s “moral bar”, Duke Street, at lunchtime for “stripes of sandwich, fresh clean bread, with relish of disgust, pungent mustard, the feety savour of green cheese”; or you could just settle for a gorgonzola sandwich.
Episode nine: Scylla and Charybdis
Read episode nine in the National Library, Kildare Street, where Joyce imagined himself out of Dublin.
Alternatively, take a jaunt out to Dún Laoghaire and watch Rough Magic Theatre Company bring Stephen’s analysis of Shakespeare to life in Conor Hanratty’s adaptation of Scylla and Charybdis, part of a week-long series of events celebrating Joyce.
Bloomsday events at the National Library run from 2pm-6pm. ‘Scylla and Charybdis’ is at the Pavilion Theatre, Dún Laoghaire, June 13th, 1pm
Episode 10: Wandering Rocks
North Great George’s Street
Follow in Bloom’s footsteps and join an official walking tour through the “odour of ashpits and old weeds and offal” that is Joyce’s Dublin.
Starting off at the James Joyce Museum on North Great George’s Street, take the Wandering Rocks odyssey through the book’s north Dublin sites.
James Joyce Centre, June 12th-16th
Episode 11: Sirens
The Ormond Hotel of the book is long gone, but pop across the quay to Usher’s Island, where Joyce’s famous story The Dead was set, for an audio tour of the building produced by Wonderland Productions.
15 Usher’s Island, June 14th, 2pm
Episode 12: Cyclops
Bailey Pub, Duke Street
Barney Kiernan’s pub on Arbour Hill no longer exists so head to the Bailey pub on Duke Street for a refreshment instead to see prints from Rob Berry’s Ulysses “Seen”, a dramatic graphic novel adaptation of Joyce’s novel.
The Bailey, until June 16th
Episode 13: Nausicaa
Bloom is back in Sandymount again, ogling Gerty MacDowell’s “neat blouse of electric blue . . . navy threequarter skirt . . . [and] coquettish little love of a hat of wideleaved nigger straw contrast trimmed with an underbrim of eggblue chenille and at the side a butterfly bow of silk to tone”.
Celebrate Bloomsday in an elaborate costume of your own: try a local charity shop, the Fancy Dress Store in Blackrock or Abbey Theatre Costume Hire.
Episode 14: Oxen of the Sun
Holles Street Hospital
Bloom visits Mina Purefoy as she labours at Holles Street Hospital, in one of Ulysses’s most challenging episodes, where wordplay replaces real language.
Try standing outside and proclaiming “In ward wary the watcher hearing come that man mild-hearted eft rising with swire ywimpled to him her gate wide undid” for size.
Episode 15: Circe
Nighttown, James Joyce Street
Episode 15 is devised as a surreal play script, complete with stage directions. The setting is The Monto, Nighttown, Dublin’s red-light district in 1904. Today one of the streets in the area is named after the author.
Episode 16: Eumaeus
Well in their cups at a late hour, Bloom and Stephen bond over song at the cabman’s shelter on Butt Bridge.
The bridge, of course, is still there, but for music join NUI Galway’s Prof Fran O’Rourke and classical guitarist John Feeley at Joyce’s alma mater for “an old German song of Johannes Jeep about the clear sea and the voices of sirens, sweet murderers of men”. See the panel opposite for more details on these events.
Newman House, until June 15th, 1pm
Episode 17: Ithaca
The James Joyce Centre
Bloom arrives home to No 7 Eccles Street. As it happens, that part of the street has been transported to the James Joyce Centre on North Great George’s Street, which has the original door on display in the museum.
Knock in throughout the Bloomsday Festival and see a mock-up of the rooms in Trieste, Zurich and Paris where he wrote most of Ulysses.
Ongoing, James Joyce Centre
Episode 18: Penelope
Bewley’s, Grafton Street
Say yes! Eight great sentences over 50 pages bring us deep into the mind of Bloom’s wife, Molly, for the concluding episode of Joyce’s odyssey. Watch Eilin O’Dea perform her famous soliloquy in an intimate cabaret setting.
Bewley’s Cafe Theatre, until June 14th, 8pm
A record-breaking reading
MORE THAN 100 Irish writers will read consecutively for 28 hours this weekend in an attempt to break the world record for the most authors reading one after another at an event to mark Bloomsday at the Irish Writers’ Centre.
Senator David Norris will open proceedings at 10am on Friday, before 111 poets, novelists, playwrights and short-story writers will take to the stage to read for 15 minutes from their own works through the day and night.
The event will kick off with John Boyne, who will read from his latest novel The Absolutist, and end with a reading by Jack Harte from his short-story collection From Under Gogols Nose at 1.45pm on Bloomsday, Saturday June 16th.
“Bloomsday is special this year in that Joyce’s works have come out of copyright, and there will be a lot of Joycean events using his texts,” says Jack Harte, chairman of the Irish Writers’ Centre. “We thought this would be an appropriate but different tribute to the day.”
Seamus Heaney, Kevin Barry, Gabriel Rosenstock, Dermot Bolger, Marita Conlon McKenna, Gerald Dawe and Roddy Doyle are among those who will take part. “For the authors who are not household names, it is a chance to promote their work and read to a willing audience,” says Harte. “We try to celebrate the achievements of the great writers past and present, and use that to give a leg-up to new writers who are on the way up.”
The current record for consecutive readings is held by 75 authors who read at the Berlin International Literature Festival in 2010.
The Bloomsday event will be open to the public and streamed live on the Irish Writers’ Centre website. A full schedule is available at
Hear Joyce’s guitar in concert
The strings of James Joyce’s guitar are making “music sweet” again this week for the first time in many years. This is, in fact, the first time that the guitar has been played in public.
Last March, the guitar, which has been in the museum at the Joyce Tower in Sandycove since the 1960s, was restored and made playable again by luthier Gary Southwell. Joyce owned and played the guitar while in Zurich during the first World War, and there is a famous photograph of him playing it.
The person who sponsored the restoration, UCD academic Prof Fran O’Rourke, who is also a singer and musician, is now presenting a week-long series of recitals in which he is accompanied on the guitar by leading Irish guitarist John Feeley. O’Rourke and Feeley are performing Irish songs linked to Joyce. They also perform a song that Joyce is known to have sung while accompanying himself on the guitar. Un Rêve, which is not thought to have been performed before in Ireland, is sung in both French and Greek; Prof O’Rourke has managed to track down both versions.
The recitals take place in Newman House, 86 St Stephen’s Green, each day until Friday, from 1pm to 1.55pm.