Blooming good day for Joyceans
The crucial magic ingredient of sunshine made for a Bloomsday in which Leopold himself would have happily partaken.
Dublin was awash yesterday with locals and tourists alike, whether of a Joycean bent or not, out on the streets to mop up the unique spirit.
Not to mention mopping up a nice glass of Burgundy to have with their Gorgonzola sandwich at Davy Byrne's pub.
On North Great George's Street, traditional breakfasts of rashers and sausages were savoured, while out at Caviston's in Glasthule, Tourism Minister Mary Hanafin preferred a lighter repast of grilled sole.
There were readings at the James Joyce museum at the Martello tower in Sandycove -- though really all of Dublin was a Joycean library yesterday.
A copy of 'Ulysses' seemed to lie open on every outdoor cafe table in the city, while straw boaters, striped boating jackets and narrow Edwardian skirts were in such abundance that it was those in modern dress who felt self-conscious.
Sean Carr salvaged his original Edwardian red-striped blazer from a vintage clothing shop many years ago. "I've been dressing up and taking part in Bloomsday for 15 years," he said, while for his companion beside him, Johanna Hegarty in a wide-brimmed hat, it has been 20 years.
It was the first Bloomsday for a group of Joyce fans from Liverpool, amongst them Russell Barnes and Mike Naidoo.
"I read 'Ulysses' years ago cover to cover, but now I like to dip in and out of it. The more you read it, the more you get out of it," said Mr Barnes.
In the sun trap of Meeting House Square in Temple Bar, a feast of readings, song and drama was prepared.
A one-man show by Senator David Norris, dramatising one of the racier sections of the novel, went down a storm.
But better still was his own "one-man show" that he treated fans to in conversation afterwards, in which he promoted Joyce, Dublin and Ireland in general with zest and finesse.
In fact, given the display of public adulation, along with numerous promises to canvass on his behalf, at this stage he can probably be described as Ireland's President-elect.
To a group of Philadelphia businessmen considering Shannon as a base for the production of a new liver drug, he gave the hard sell; he treated a south Carolina woman, Sandy Noonan Fowler, to an outrageously "I declare", southern accent, before telling her that he was actually, true as God, the honourary attorney general for North Carolina.
To birthday girl, Maire Nolan from Tallaght, he bestowed a smacker of a kiss before softly singing Happy Birthday.
"That's the icing on the cake, that's absolutely made my day," beamed Maire afterwards.
From there, Senator Norris was off to the airwaves to persuade George Hook of the joys of 'Ulysses' -- in 15 minutes.
Earlier at O'Reilly Hall in UCD -- Joyce's alma mater -- the UCD Ulysses medal was awarded to Professor Jurgen Habermas of Germany, who is considered to be the most influential living philosopher.
A number of honorary doctorates were also awarded to other academics and thinkers, including Joycean scholar Helene Cixous, broadcaster John Bowman, writer Colm Toibin and NGO campaigner Tom Arnold.