On every 16th June Irish people celebrate Bloomsday, a day dedicated to the life and works of the famous Irish writer James Joyce.
Language in Dublin is located very close to Martello Tower in Sandycove, where James Joyce once spent some time and where the first chapter of his masterpiece Ulysses was set. Here is a reading of the opening scene of the book.
Most of our students have already strolled along the coast at Glasthule towards Martello Tower, known today under the name of the James Joyce Tower & Museum. Among the items on display in the museum are Joyce’s guitar, his travelling trunk, waistcoat and poignant death mask.
Diane, our social organizer, has already told you everything about it as she does every year, but it’s still worth mentioning a few things about this special day.
Bloomsday celebrates the day on which the action of James Joyce’s novel Ulysses takes place, 16 June 1904. Joyce chose that date as it was the day when he first went out with his future wife, Nora Barnacle. The name derives from Leopold Bloom, the protagonist of Ulysses. Joyce himself never used the term Bloomsday; it was invented in 1954, on the 50th anniversary of the events in the novel, when John Ryan (artist, critic, publican and founder of Envoy magazine) and the novelist Flann O’Brien organised what was to be a daylong pilgrimage along the Ulysses route. The pilgrims visited locations like the Martello Tower at Sandycove, Davy Byrne’s pub, and 7 Eccles Street, reading parts of Ulysses on the way.
Bloom apparently covered over 18 miles of Dublin in his wanderings through a city dominated by symbols of the British Empire. Horse-drawn carriages, gaslight, unpaved streets and magnificent Georgian buildings could be seen at that time.
Nowadays on Bloomsday people get dressed in Edwardian style clothes – bowlers, straw boaters and waistcoats for the men, petticoats, bonnets and parasols for the ladies and gather in pubs or in the street performing songs from that era.
This year the Bloomsday Festival included lots of events in Sandycove, Glasthule and Dun Laoghaire. Have a look at the programme here.
In 1924, when friends sent Joyce, who was in the hospital, a bouquet of white and blue hydrangeas, he wrote in his notebook: “Today 16 of June 1924 twenty years after. Will anybody remember this date?”
We all remember it now.