/ The Dublin Guide
Dublin — By Jessica Colley on June 17, 2010 at 6:17 am
Filed under: festival, holiday, literature

Bloomsday Report from Dublin

June 16 has been branded in the minds of the Irish as a day of literary significance. Now called Bloomsday, June 16 is the day when all the action of James Joyce’s novel, Ulysses, takes place. Celebrations across Dublin bring the novel and Leopold Bloom to life, from readings of favorite passages to visiting pubs mentioned in the book. As I discovered yesterday, the best part was, many participants were dressed in clever costumes from Joyce’s era.

Organized by the James Joyce Centre, a permanent fixture on the literary scene in Dublin, the Bloomsday festival actually extended beyond June 16 this year. From 12 – 16 June, an immersion in Joyce’s praised novel began. Options included walking tours (such as ‘In the Footsteps of Leopold Bloom’ and the official ‘Bloomsday Walk’ visiting Leopold and Molly Bloom’s residence), musical performances, lectures, a Bloomsday Breakfast, and a feature film.

I had heard from my Irish friends that Bloomsday in the center of town can be quite the spectacle. Yesterday was the best day of the year so far weather-wise, making celebrations even more festive. A crowd outside of Davy Byrne’s pub (mentioned in the novel) were wearing straw hats, seersucker jackets, and carrying parasols. On the streets, horse-drawn carriages brought participants from landmark to landmark and in Meeting House Square in Temple Bar people listed to favorite passages and left with a new copy of the novel under their arm.

The entire city seemed to get into the spirit of things. Taking a famous line from the novel, the restaurant Fallon & Byrne invited people in with a note on their outside blackboard: ‘Celebrate Bloomsday with a glass of Burgundy and a gorgonzola sandwich.’ Other restaurants across town had similar advertisements and the crowds in Temple Bar made a Wednesday feel like the weekend.

Besides the costumes, the music, and the flowing glasses of Burgundy, the best thing about Bloomsday is a modern celebration of literature. I couldn’t get over how many people had taken their lunch break to sit in sunny Meeting House Square and listen to the words of Joyce. It was a reminder that Dublin is a city that hasn’t forgotten about its roots, and celebrates the literary culture for which they are famous for worldwide. Put June 16 on your calendar – it is an event worth traveling for. 

Photo Credit: Statue of James Joyce in Dublin, Jessica Colley

Tags: festival, holiday, literature

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