What is Bloomsday?
Bloomsday is a celebration of James Joyce’s novel Ulysses. It is named after the book’s central character Leopold Bloom and is celebrated annually on 16th June to commemorate the day that is depicted in the story.
The novel follows the life and thoughts of Leopold Bloom, Stephen Daedalus and a host of other characters from the morning of 16th June 1904 through to the early hours of the following morning.
Why did Joyce choose 16th June 1904?
This date is believed to be the day that Joyce went out with Nora Barnacle, his future wife, for the first time. According to Joyce’s biographer, they went walking together in Ringsend and Joyce later told Nora ‘You made me a man.’
The book has both fascinated scholars and intimidated readers for decades. It is generally considered to be one of the greatest masterpiece of modernist literature, yet has outraged critics for its choice of language and graphic descriptions of bodily functions.
The journey of the day is given a mythical resonance, as the events are mapped to episodes that occur in Homer's Odyssey.
A weeklong celebration of all things Bloom takes place from the 9th - 16th June.
On Bloomsday itself, Joyce fans dress in Edwardian costume to conjure up the atmosphere of the period in which Ulysses was set. Fans follow the route around Dublin taken by Bloom and usually have a breakfast of sausages, beans, black and white pudding and toast at some stage along the way.
The James Joyce Centre on North Great Georges Street have scheduled a week of engaging and inspiring events, from staples like the traditional Bloomsday Breakfast and walking tours, to brand new theatre, live music, talks and other special events.
A ‘What, When & Where’ of the events of Ulysses’s 16th June 1904
- 8am - Martello Tower, Sandycove (scene of ‘Telemachus’ – episode 1) & at 7 Eccles Street (scene of ‘Calypso’ – episode 4)
- 10am - Mr Deasy’s school in Dalkey (scene of ‘Nestor’ – episode 2) & at Westland Row Post Office, Church, Sweny’s Chemist (scene of ‘Lotus-Eaters’ – episode 5)
- 11am - Sandymount Strand (scene of ‘Proteus’ – episode 3) & at Glasnevin Cemetery (scene of ‘Hades’ – episode 6)
- 12 noon - the offices of the Freeman’s Journal and Evening Telegraph (scene of ‘Aeolus’ – episode 7)
- 1pm - Davy Byrnes on Duke Street (scene of ‘Lestrygonians’ – episode 8)
- 2pm - National Library on Kildare Street (scene of ‘Scylla & Charybdis’ – episode 9)
- 3pm - various locations around Dublin, including St Mary’s Abbey (‘Wandering Rocks’ – episode 10)
- 4pm - The Ormond Hotel bar, Ormond Quay (scene of ‘Sirens’ – episode 11)
- 5pm - Barney Kiernan’s pub, Little Britain Street (scene of ‘Cyclops’ – episode 12)
- 8pm - Sandymount Strand (scene of ‘Nausicaa’ – episode 13)
- 10pm - Holles Street Maternity Hospital (scene of ‘Oxen of the Sun’ – episode 14)
- 12 midnight - Bella Cohen’s brothel, Tyrone Street (scene of ‘Circe’ – episode 15)
- 1am - the Cabman’s shelter, under Loop Line Bridge (scene of ‘Eumaeus’ – episode 16)
- 2am - 7 Eccles Street (scene of ‘Ithaca’ – episode 17)
- Later - the Blooms’ bedroom at 7 Eccles Street (scene of ‘Penelope’ – episode 18)
Hands up – how many of you have read Ulysses?