Dubliners have a free Bloomsday breakfast

Forget lunch.Up to ten thousand people discovered that there is such a thing as a free breakfast on a transformed O'Connell Street…

Forget lunch.Up to ten thousand people discovered that there is such a thing as a free breakfast on a transformed O'Connell Street in Dublin yesterday.

Wearing feather boas, straw hats, elegant boots, Edwardian bustles - and that was just the men - enthusiasts made their own personal odyssey to the Denny Bloomsday Centenary breakfast which saw the street closed to traffic.

Denny, as those who have read Ulysses will be aware, got the kind of plug money can't buy in the famous book when Leopold Bloom observed a girl in Dlugacz's butchers buying "a pound and a half of Denny's sausages".

Mind you it was difficult to find anyone who had actually read the literary phenomenon - skipping chapters doesn't count - among those tucking into their al fresco breakfast rolls from as early as 8.30 a.m.


Troels Anderson from Denmark sat munching his roll on the base of the James Joyce statue but admitted he had never heard of Bloomsday, which falls on Wednesday.

His friend, Co Waterford man Adrian Sheridan, explained they had got their breakfast tickets from some passing Americans.

"I always enjoy breakfast when it's free," he said.

The rolls were filled with bacon, sausages and hash browns.

Bloom's preferred "inner organs of beast" were represented by generous helpings of white and black pudding.

The Campbells from Dublin - grandmother Sheila, her son Pat, his wife Ann and their son Paul - had made the breakfast a family affair.

"My new year's resolution was to finish Ulysses by Bloomsday," said Pat.

"I've only 40 pages left so I should be finished by Wednesday. "

Mingling with the happy crowds were circus acts, magicians, old fashioned barbers, parlour singers, tenors and shoe shiners.

Peter Caviston of Caviston's delicatessen in Glasthule was cheerily handing out chunks of Joyce's favourite gorgonzola, while a soap seller was heard to tell a customer "I think, personally speaking, that Joyce was off his rocker".

On North Earl Street, standing beside the statue of Joyce, Senator David Norris was besieged by eager souvenir hunters wanting their photos taken with the Joycean scholar.

"I can remember telling Bord Fáilte 30 years ago that if they knew how to play it they would make the Bloomsday festivities into something like a Mardi Gras," he said, clearly delighted with the event that formed part of the Rejoyce 2004 festival.

Senator Norris, who revealed he had oysters and wine for breakfast, was accompanied by a grandnephew of the author Bob Joyce and his wife, Joyce Joyce.

"It's a bit difficult filling out forms, they always think I have made a mistake," she said of the problems she has with her remarkable name.

Commenting on the event, organisers said they were relieved the rain had held off and said that if laid end to end, the number of sausages served would be 10 times higher than the Spire. "We estimate that, in all, around 50,000 people were enjoying the festivities on the street this morning," a spokeswoman said.

Despite the huge numbers the event passed off smoothly. Well, almost. Earlier, one man had made his disgruntled presence felt by cursing loudly and at length while walking past Clery's clock.

"Now that's real Dublin," one Dubliner explained to his puzzled foreign friend.

No doubt Joyce would have approved.

Róisín Ingle

Róisín Ingle

Róisín Ingle is an Irish Times columnist, feature writer and coproducer of the Irish Times Women's Podcast