Ten events happening across the city in celebration of the centenary of James Joyce’s Ulysses
With 2022 marking the centenary of James Joyce’s Ulysses, June 16 is shaping up to be a Bloomsday like no other.
The annual celebration of all things Joycean takes place this Thursday, with a dizzying array of readings, performances and exhibitions across the city.
Ulysses, set in a single day in Dublin – June 16, 1904 – follows the journey of Leopold Bloom and Stephen Dedalus as they encounter a host of memorable characters, both real and fictional.
Bloomsday was first celebrated here in 1954 when writers Patrick Kavanagh and Flann O’Brien visited the Martello Tower at Sandycove, Davy Byrne’s pub and 7 Eccles Street to read excerpts from Ulysses – and enjoy a few drinks along the way.
With straw boater hats at the ready, here are 10 highlights of this week’s festival.
By the time Bloomsday arrives, actor Barry McGovern will have spent seven days on the stage of the Peacock Theatre reading Ulysses in its entirety – perfect for those who have tried and failed to get through Joyce’s lengthy tome. Presented by the Abbey Theatre and Dublin City Council, the final reading in the series takes place from 10am on June 16, lasting two hours and forty-five minutes. Tickets are €12 (€10 concession).
You can follow in the footsteps of Leopold Bloom with a walking tour run by well-known guide Pat Liddy. Lasting two hours and 15 minutes, it’s an ideal first introduction to Joyce and celebrates the very streets immortalised in Ulysses. Starting from the Gate Theatre, the tours will run at 10.30am and 2.30pm on June 16. Tickets are €20 (adults), €15 (seniors/students), €10 (ages 12-16) and free for under-12s (if accompanied by an adult).
A week of special events is currently under way at the landmark James Joyce Tower and Museum in Sandycove, with celebrations kicking off from 8am on Bloomsday. The morning will start with readings by members of Friends of the Joyce Tower Society, followed by a contribution from actor Byran Murray at 9.30am. Museum admission is free, but will be on a first-come, first-served basis, and restricted during performances, with tickets costing €5 per event.
A Little Cloud, a short story from Joyce’s Dubliners, has been given a contemporary adaptation by Patricia Browne for this performance at Bewley’s Café Theatre on Grafton Street. Directed by Vincent Patrick, it follows the journey of Little Chandler as he makes his way through the streets of modern-day Dublin to meet an old acquaintance, the charismatic Gallagher. There will be a special evening performance on Bloomsday at 7pm, with tickets priced from €10 to €15.
To mark 100 years of Ulysses, Baloonatics will be back on the streets of Dublin on Bloomsday for a sequence of theatrical walks. Each walk is based on an episode from Joyce’s novel, culminating with an evening of readings and performances at Wynn’s Hotel on Abbey Street. The first walk starts at 8am from the Aurora, the site of Larry O’Rourke’s pub on Eccles Street/Upper Dorset Street. There is no charge, although a hat will be passed around if you feel like tipping on the day. Admission to the evening event is €10.
Glasnevin Cemetery was the venue for the funeral of the fictional Paddy Dignam, attended by Leopold Bloom in Ulysses, which will be re-enacted on Bloomsday. This year, Experience Glasnevin will run a series of events to celebrate Bloomsday, including a Joycean exhibition, a new Ulysses guide, a re-enactment of the Hades episode of Ulysses (performed by the Joycestagers) and a Joycean tour of the cemetery.
Davy Byrne’s pub, which opened its doors in 1889, became internationally famous after the publication of Ulysses. The Duke Street venue is where Leopold Bloom visits for a glass of burgundy and a gorgonzola cheese sandwich. Ever since, Davy Byrne’s has been at the heart of the Bloomsday festivities. From 12 noon on June 16, the pub will be alive with music, performances and readings from Ulysses.
There will be a screening of the film adaptation of Ulysses at the National Gallery of Ireland at 6pm on June 16. The classic 1967 film, starring stage and screen legend Milo O’Shea as Leopold Bloom, offers a fascinating cinematic interpretation of Joyce’s key work. Full price tickets are €10 (€5 for Friends of the Gallery), with discounts for students and over-65s.
St Andrew’s Church on Westland Row will be the setting for a Bloomsday celebration of Joycean music. The free family-friendly event starts at 11am and will feature works by Irish composer Balfe, a sing-along and music directly from the pages of Joyce’s books. There will be a performance by the Greenore Choir and a surprise guest.
Comedian Katherine Lynch will lead an afternoon of readings and songs from Ulysses at Meeting House Square, Temple Bar, from 3-6pm, on Bloomsday. A longstanding Bloomsday tradition, the public event will feature “a chaotic cast” of noted Irish actors, politicians, musicians, pundits, procrastinators “and everyone in between”. The day is supported by Failte Ireland, the Department of Tourism, Culture, Arts, Sports and Media, Dublin City Council and UNESCO Dublin City of Literature. Admission is free.
For a full programme of Bloomsday events visit www.bloomsdayfestival.ie