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Kidneys, Guinness and 'Ulysses' on the menu for Joyce's special day

THE traditional 'Ulysses' dishes of thick giblet soup, nutty gizzards and fried liver slices were off the menu, as hundreds of modern-day Joyce fans gathered to celebrate Bloomsday.

But Laura Barnes, director of the James Joyce Centre, said over 200 people still got a taste of the Edwardian fare as they tucked into a full Irish breakfast, including kidneys and a glass of Guinness, at yesterday's traditional feast.

The centre, in the heart of Dublin's north inner city, was busy whipping up the culinary concoction to mark the anniversary of the central character in 'Ulysses', Leopold Bloom.

In Temple Bar, Bloomsday readers, including Arts Minister Martin Cullen, artist Robert Ballagh, film director John Boorman, Miriam Ahern and scores of actors and ambassadors, were bringing the oft-quoted, and in some cases less well-thumbed, epic to life.

After breakfasting at the James Joyce Centre, Mr Cullen, then opened the programme of Bloomsday readings in Temple Bar.

"I had the full breakfast. I come from Waterford, so we're well used to offal and kidneys down there -- I've had them since a child there," he quipped.

"I have to say I'm not a deep reader of James Joyce, found him very difficult to read over the years," he said. "Certainly, for somebody like me, either participating in or listening to the readings can bring it much more to life."

The ever-expanding events of Bloomsday have not taken away from the works of Joyce, he said, in fact they have brought "a writer of Joyce's calibre to a wider audience".

Artist Robert Ballagh prescribed a few chapters of 'Ulysses' for Irish people, or ideally Dubliners, leaving Ireland for a time.

"Read passages of it, it's a great cure for any homesickness because it's such a wonderful portrait of Dublin city," he said.

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Miriam Ahern, the separated wife of the former Taoiseach Bertie Ahern, said it was nice to delve into a small bit of the writer's work.

Other events included guided walking tours, plays and commemorations at the Joyce Tower in Sandycove, where Buck Mulligan went for a swim.

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