Bloomsday comes but once a year, but what a day it is, and what a way to celebrate the work of one of the nation’s most renowned writers.
Bloomsday is well known to Dubliners and scholars, students, and lovers of James Joyce alike. Taking place on the 16th of June each year, it commemorates the day depicted in James Joyce’s novel Ulysses, 16th June, 1904, and is named after Leopold Bloom, the central character in the novel.
Celebrated worldwide, this is a great excuse for all to dress up and get into the spirit of the day. Get out your pinstripes, ruffles and petticoats, your bowlers and boaters, and to top off the look, a pair of round spectacles.
Closer to home, there are plenty of Bloomsday activities that you can get involved with for the 2016 festivities.
The Bloomsday Festival takes place from 11th to 16th June, in a variety of venues around Dublin. The programme of events if quite impressive, with something for everyone on throughout the near week-long festival. Some of the highlights include:
The Irish Writers Centre hosts a workshop of Confessional Writing with Irish Times journalist, Róisín Agnew, focusing on Joyce’s A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man. This half day event takes place on Saturday, 11th June.
A variety of walking tours based on different Joyce novels, and also a bus tour on Monday, 13th June, taking in places like Portobello, the Irish Jewish Museum, Joyce’s birthplace, the beautiful village of Sandycove, and the James Joyce Tower.
The Bizarre Bloomsday Brunch & Street Party, hosted by Happenings, taking place on Sunday, 12th June, at the James Joyce Centre. We are told that this will be “a celebration of all the weird and wacky parts of Joyce with food, performances, games and music from the pages of Ulysses!” Advance booking is highly recommended!
The Bloomsday Breakfast at the James Joyce Centre – take a leaf out of Leopold Bloom’s book and enjoy a hearty breakfast before setting out on your travels. A traditional Irish breakfast is served by staff in period costume, with optional gruesome extras!
Or why not try something different and take the Bloomsday Cruise, and travel from the city centre to the seaside suburbs in style this 16th June! Pre-booking is essential for the cruise as places are strictly limited.
And if you happen to be around Westland Row on Bloomsday itself, why not pop into Sweny’s, “the worst Pharmacy in the city”, and join in with the volunteers, reading a passage or two from Ulysees, or treat yourself to a bar of the famous lemony soap?
Apart from the main Bloomsday Festival, there is also the fringe festival with dozens of events including reading Ulysees by bike with the Wonderland Theatre Company, celebrations at the Martello Tower in Sandycove, and Balloonatics’ re-enactment of Ulysses in the streets of the city on 16th June.
For the theatrically minded amongst us, there are a couple of plays with a Joycean theme worth checking out. Tony Chesterman’s widely celebrated stage adaptation of A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man is playing at the New Theatre in Temple Bar until 15th June. Tickets cost €16 and may be reserved online.
We also have Robert Gogan’s very entertaining 70 minute show ‘Strolling Through Ulysses‘, which is on at 1pm and 7pm every Sunday during June in The Stag’s Head Pub.
The Irish Film Institute will also be celebrating Joyce on Bloomsday, Thursday 16th June, with screenings of Shem the Penman Sings Again (16.30), followed by a Q&A with director Padraig Trehy, and Medicated Milk (18.40) followed by a Q&A with director Áine Stapleton and collaborator José Miguel Jiménez. Tickets for these screenings are available online.
So, those are just some of our suggestions for Bloomsday. If you know of any other events worth sharing, do let us know in the comments below.
Happy Bloomsday to one and all!
Lead image © Nando Machado; photos of Joyce plaque and Sweny’s © DUBLIN BUZZ; all other images courtesy Bloomsday Festival; Street Party © Ruth Medjber