Dublin ignores recession to celebrate Bloomsday
Tuesday, 16 Jun, 2009
DUBLIN: Thousands of James Joyce fans Tuesday cast aside worries about recession in Ireland to recreate Bloomsday, the fictitious day at the centre of the author’s most famous novel, ‘Ulysses.’
The annual literary hooley involves devoted Joyceans dressing in the fashions of 1904, eating the ‘inner organs of beasts and fowls,’ attending readings and celebrating at various venues and pubs mentioned in the book.
The 700-page Ulysses charts the adventures of the novel’s hero Leopold Bloom, a Jewish advertising salesman, and young poet Stephen Dedalus as they wander the streets of Dublin 105 years ago.
Bloomsday was first marked in 1929 in Paris, eight years after ‘Ulysses’was completed. It has now become a June 12 to 16 festival for the Irish capital as followers of one of the country’s leading writers flock from around the
Joyce himself famously worried on the 20th anniversary of Bloomsday: ‘Will anyone remember this date?’The first and most famous Bloomsday celebration in Dublin took place on the 50th anniversary in 1954, when a group of writers set off in horse drawn cabs with the intention of visiting all the locations of the novel.
Their odyssey was truncated after stops at several pubs. Followers are similarly diverted today.
There is no official Bloomsday programme said James Quinn of the James Joyce Centre.
‘We have the traditional breakfasts here but there is no co-ordination of events. People wander around and turn up at locations throughout the day for events like the lunch that Bloom had of a gorgonzola sandwich and glass of burgundy.’ Arts Minister Michael Mansergh, who performed a reading in the centre city, described Bloomsday as a ‘unique day for Dublin.’
‘It provides an opportunity for Joycean followers all over the world to celebrate Joyce’s seminal work.
‘It is best celebrated and recognised in his own city. Nowhere else in the world is Bloomsday and indeed Joyce himself commemorated with such enthusiasm.’ Traditionalists dressed up in Edwardian costume, or something resembling it — straw hats, stripy blazers, waistcoats, long skirts, parasols, watchchains and any other trimmings.
For the purists with strong stomachs breakfast was a grilled pork or mutton kidney, slightly singed, but could also include giblet soup, nutty gizzards, a stuffed roast heart and liver slices fried with crust crumbs.
Any cooked breakfast is acceptable, especially if accompanied by booze.
Aficionados also swam at the Forty Foot bathing spot in the south city visited the Joyce museum in a Martello Tower in Sandycove and bought lemon soap.
‘Anyone who happens to be in Dublin on June 16 who might not have heard about Bloomsday before really enjoys it because there is so much going on,’ said Aine Kavanagh, Dublin Tourism spokeswoman.
‘Its great because it then gives them an interest in Joyce and the various attractions associated with him.’ Joyce, who spent most of his life in exile, had a love-hate relationship with the city of his birth.
‘How sick, sick, sick I am of Dublin!’ he wrote in 1909. ‘It is the city of failure, of rancour and of unhappiness.’ — AFP