Bloomsday marked in Dublin

 

Joycean enthusiasts from across the world are gathered in Dublin yesterday to mark Bloomsday.

President Michael D Higgins, Joycean scholar Senator David Norris and Lord Mayor of Dublin Cllr Andrew Montague were among the scores who attended events in the city centre  – many of them dressed in Edwardian garb such as straw boater hats, striped jackets and lace dresses.

“It’s a great day for showing off our city and to get the fun out of Bloomsday. There is a huge amount of humour in [Ulysses],” Cllr Montague said. The book follows Leopold Bloom as he goes about his business in Dublin on June 16th, 1904.

The James Joyce Centre on North Great George’s Street was the central hub for much of the day’s celebrations.

Mr Higgins read an excerpt from Ulysses at the centre yesterday morning ahead of a traditional Bloomsday breakfast of “thick giblet soup, nutty gizzards . . . a stuffed roast heart” in the Gresham Hotel on O’Connell Street.

The President said Bloomsday was "a very important day not only in the Dublin literary calendar but a day that is celebrated internationally as the day that was the source of the work that changed the world of literature".

Marie Nolan from Tallaght, who celebrates her birthday on Bloomsday, said the occasion was a great opportunity to dress up, have fun and celebrate Ulysses and the work of Joyce in general.

“I love the storyline to[Ulysses] and I think it gives women a sense of being out there and of who we are,” she said. “We don’t have to hide behind doors and we don’t have to be skeptical of saying what’s on our minds.”

Ms Nolan said she had a Bloomsday breakfast, avoiding the kidneys, and that she would be participating in Joyce related events all day. “It’s a lovely, lovely day. The only thing I dislike about James Joyce day is that I’m a year older [every time it is on].”

Steve Collett from Newport in Wales said he had been coming to Ireland for more than 20 years to celebrate the work of James Joyce. “The writing is just incredible,” he said. “I’m not a particularly well read person myself but it grabs you and you want to find out more about it because it is difficult, I suppose.”

As part of the Bloomsday celebrations, illustrations from a new graphic novel of Ulysses by the American artist Robert Berry are being hosted by and are for sale in Dublin pub The Bailey – an event of which Joyce would no doubt approve.

The idea, like so many other interpretations of Joyce’s work, is a beneficiary of the copyright expiring in the EU and elsewhere 70 years after the author’s death in 1941. The Abbey is to stage an adaptation of The Dead by Frank McGuinness this year.

Sharon Cramer, from Buffalo, New York, said she was on a tour of Ireland that ended on Wednesday but felt obliged to stay on to take in the Bloomsday celebrations.

“I’ve been reading Joyce since I was young and it has always had a special meaning so the idea of being here for this day was really exciting,” she said. “He was a radical thoughtful writer who really was self-reflective and looked into how people think and feel in their lives. He had depth beyond anything I could imagine.”