Joyce’s Dublin recalled in Bloomsday Festival


Ireland’s annual celebration of James Joyce’s seminal work, Ulysses, returns to Dublin in June with the five-day Bloomsday festival.

Art, music, theatre, lectures, readings, walking tours and food events make up the packed programme that invites Joyce fans to see his famous novel Ulysses through a multitude of lenses.

Bloomsday (11–16 June) recalls 16 June 1904, the day immortalised in the novel, which follows the footsteps of Leopold Bloom around Dublin.

Highlights of this year’s events include performances of Joyce’s story Grace in Bewley’s Café and a musical celebration of Ulysses in the National Concert Hall. The bellringers of Christ Church Taney will ring the actual bells referenced in the novel and at Dalkey Castle actors will perform enlightening and entertaining extracts from Ulysses, Dubliners and A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man.

A number of walking tours will visit the places mentioned in Ulysses or explore the aspects of Dublin that influenced Joyce’s work. Exhibitions include a celebration of the art and creativity of Lucia Joyce, James Joyce’s daughter, who was a dancer and artist in 1920s Paris.

Several of the programmed events focus on the food and drink enjoyed by Leopold Bloom and his friends in the novel. The annual Bloomsday Breakfast will be hosted In Belvedere College, where Joyce studied, and will include readings and songs as well as hearty plates of food. At the Delahunt restaurant there will be a menu of food and light bites inspired by Ulysses, while many cafes and restaurants will offer the gorgonzola sandwich and glass of burgundy that Bloom enjoyed so much.

Sweny’s Pharmacy, made famous in the novel and dating from 1847, will welcome people to enjoy a cup of tea, buy a bar of lemony soap, as Bloom did, and get involved in a reading.

As well as the ticketed events, there will be impromptu readings in pubs, cafes and even on the streets of the city, and locals and visitors will get into the Bloomsday spirit by donning Edwardian garb to recreate the style of Joyce’s Dublin.

At the heart of the festivities is the James Joyce Centre, the organiser of the festival and home to exhibitions and interactive guides to Joyce’s life and work. More memorabilia from the author’s life can be viewed at the James Joyce Tower and Museum in Sandycove, the Martello tower that featured in chapter one of Ulysses. And you can see portraits of the man himself at the National Gallery.