Joycean enthusiasts turn out for a day to remember

Dublin plays host to series of events staged to celebrate James Joyce’s Ulysses on Bloomsday

President Michael D Higgins hosts a Bloomsday garden party where John Shevlin immersed himself in the character James Joyce. Photograph: Tom Honan.

President Michael D Higgins hosts a Bloomsday garden party where John Shevlin immersed himself in the character James Joyce. Photograph: Tom Honan.

 

The graves of a moneylender, drowned solicitor and murdered under secretary were just three stops along an annual Bloomsday tour of Glasnevin Cemetery for enthusiasts of James Joyce’s Ulysses.

The buried men were all connected by their appearances in the famous book, which follows Leopold Bloom on one Dublin day in 1904. Several groups of Bloomsday revellers took the tour throughout Saturday afternoon on June 16th, dressed in traditional Edwardian garb.

Many of the characters in Joyce’s novel were drawn in part from real life figures. Rubin Dodd, a moneylender who vigorously pursued Joyce’s father appears in the book. Thomas Henry Burke, a permanent under secretary (senior civil servant) who worked in Dublin Castle is name checked. Burke was killed in 1882 by Irish nationalists in what was called the Phoenix Park Murders.

Bloomsday Breakfast at the James Joyce Centre. A copy of Ulysses in Russian. Photograph: Tom Honan.
Bloomsday breakfast at the James Joyce Centre. A copy of Ulysses in Russian. Photograph: Tom Honan.

The Joycestagers acting troupe performed a re-enactment in the north Dublin cemetery of the famous Hades chapter in Ulysses, where Bloom attends the funeral of Paddy Dignam.

Those who took the Glasnevin tour were taken to the grave of Matthew F Kane, upon whom Joyce based the Dignam character.

Kane worked for the Crown solicitor’s office and drowned in Dublin bay in 1904. Joyce attended the funeral.

Tracey Ní Dhubhghlas was one Dubliner taking the tour in full dress, with two friends. She described herself as a “big Ulysses fan” and tries different Bloomsday events each year.

“When you dress up in the garb people come up and ask you about the book,” she said.

A Bloomsday tour of Glasnevin Cemetery, where many Dubliners upon whom James Joyce based characters in Ulysses are buried. Photograph: Jack Power
A Bloomsday tour of Glasnevin Cemetery, where many Dubliners upon whom James Joyce based characters in Ulysses are buried. Photograph: Jack Power

Ms Ní Dhubhghlas said the book is more accessible than people make it out to be. “I always say it’s actually an everyman’s book,” she said, adding it had some “highfalutin” parts.

Glasnevin Cemetery tour guide John Scanlon led the straw-boat hat brigade, which also stopped by the grave of Joyce’s parents, John Stanislaus Joyce and Mary Jane Murray. The famous author himself is buried in Switzerland.

Mr Scanlon treated those on the tour to a steady stream of historical anecdotes, the most impressive perhaps being that Copper Face Jacks nightclub on Harcourt St borrows its name from an 18th century Dublin judge and MP.

John Scott, who died in 1798, was infamous for his aggressive nature and sun bronzed face, which earned him the nickname “Copper Face Jack”.

The traditional Bloomsday breakfast of a full Irish with pork kidneys was on offer in Kennedy’s pub, the James Joyce Centre and Howth Castle on Saturday morning.

President Michael D Higgins hosted a Bloomsday garden party where puppets Eamon and Pascal from the Your Man’s Puppets in Galway made an appearance. Pic Tom Honan.
President Michael D Higgins hosted a Bloomsday garden party where puppets Eamon and Pascal from the Your Man’s Puppets in Galway made an appearance. Pic Tom Honan.

Another June 16th staple, Senator David Norris, was on a vintage bus tour tracing Bloom’s steps around the city, past key landmarks in the book.

There were readings held in Joyce Tower at Sandycove, Wolfe Tone Square, and Sweny’s Chemist on Lincoln Place. President Michael D Higgins held a Bloomsday garden party at Áras an Uachtaráin.