June 16 – Bloomsday in Dublin, Ireland

Bloomsday commemorates the day in 1904 made immortal by the most famous circadian novel of English literature, James Joyces’ Ulysses.

James Joyce

Joyce picked that date because it was the one on which he first went out with his future wife, Nora Barnacle. Every year in Dublin fans dress up, recreate the events of the novel, go on pub crawls, attend readings, and otherwise celebrate in locations throughout the city. Increasingly, American cities stage Bloomsday events as well.

Leopold Bloom as shown in the online graphic adaptation of Ulysses drawn by Robert Berry available at http://jamesjoyce.ie/ulysses-seen/

The challenge of depicting Dublin has captured the imagination of other writers. Here is one of my favorite descriptions of the city, an excerpt of the poem “Dublin” by Irish poet Louis MacNeice:

This never was my town,
I was not born or bred
Nor schooled here and she will not
Have me alive or dead
But yet she holds my mind
With her seedy elegance,
With her gentle veils of rain
And all her ghosts that walk
And all that hide behind
Her Georgian facades -
The catcalls and the pain,
The glamour of her squalor,
The bravado of her talk.

She is not an Irish town
And she is not English,
Historic with guns and vermin
And the cold renown
Of a fragment of Church latin,
Of an oratorical phrase.
But oh the days are soft,
Soft enough to forget
The lesson better learnt,
The bullet on the wet
Streets, the crooked deal,
The steel behind the laugh,
The Four Courts burnt.”

[Note: The Four Courts of Dublin is the name of the main courts building, located on Inns Quay in Dublin. Housed within are the Supreme Court, the High Court and the Dublin Circuit Court. Until 2010 the building was also home to the Central Criminal Court.]

Happy Bloomsday!!

Leopold Bloom, anticipating Bloomsday, one might say, with a walk through Dublin (from the Ulysses Seen graphic novel)

Leopold Bloom, anticipating Bloomsday, one might say, with a walk through Dublin (from the Ulysses Seen graphic novel)

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8 Responses

  1. I remember struggling through this novel in grad school — but happily I got to visit Dublin once :). Happy Bloomsday!

  2. We had a good friend (now dead) who was a Joyce scholar — I think he was always at a Joyce conference on Bloomsday. I’ll raise a glass to both him and Joyce tonight.

  3. I’ve never read Ulysses but the pub crawl sounds good to me!

  4. I’ll probably never read Ulysses, but would love to join Kathy on the pub crawl ;-)

  5. Right there with Kathy and JoAnn!

  6. I haven’t heard of this before (surprised at that really) but what a great idea, celebrating a book like that.

  7. Pubcrawl? I’m in! :D

  8. Wow — I had absolutely no idea. Fascinating post!

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