Bloomsday: Inside Ireland's Festivals

What's the biggest decision Bloomsday’s Joyce-loving participants face? Which pub to visit next.

Location

Dublin, Ireland

Dates

16th June

Description

In order to create the critical distance required to write about Dublin, the great Irish scribe James Joyce went into self-imposed exile. In contrast, the biggest decision Bloomsday’s Joyce-loving participants face is which pub to visit next.

The Joyce fest takes place on the date when the writer took his future wife Nora on their first outing in 1904. This was also the day he chose to set his scarily long masterpiece, Ulysses. Bloomsday’s literary pilgrims make life reflect art by descending on the locations visited by the novel’s protagonist, Leopold Bloom. The tradition began in 1954, when some local writers commandeered horse-drawn cabs and attempted to visit all the locations in the modernist yarn.

Dressed in Edwardian costume, Joyceans from around the world stop at landmarks such as Davy Byrne’s pub, where they mimic Bloom and tuck into a gorgonzola cheese sandwich and a glass of burgundy. Beginning with a full Irish breakfast – another reference to the kidney-scoffing Bloom, not to mention a good fortification for all the ‘dark stuff’ to come – the day includes readings, performances, guided walks and talks. Fanatics have held marathon readings of the 250,000-word novel, and the centenary celebrations in 2004 saw 10,000 people treated to an open-air full Irish breakfast.

Level of Participation

2 – have some Ulysses quotations handy.

Other Local Attractions

The capital of the Republic of Ireland, Dublin is brimming with beautiful Georgian architecture and inviting pubs.

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