Life, love, voyage round your own little world - Leopold Bloom, Ulysses
The name of the Bloomsday Festival is inspired by Ulysses’s main character Leopold Bloom, who experiences a roller-coaster odyssey through the colourful streets of Dublin on the 16 June 1904. You’ll also meet flamboyant medical student Buck Mulligan, intense angry young man Stephen Dedalus, and Leopold’s wife Molly Bloom, an accomplished concert singer. Their daily lives unfold against the spectacular backdrop of Dublin’s buildings, streets, pubs, and historical places.
In 1954, a group of friends including poet Patrick Kavanagh and novelist Flann O’Brien, set out across Dublin on Bloomsday to recreate the eighteen episodes of the novel. They clip-clopped across Dublin in a horse and carriage, reading the story aloud to each other and re-living the book. Ever since then, people have created their own adventures following the Bloomsday trail across the city and the villages that nestle along the edge of Dublin bay. From these spontaneous origins, the Bloomsday Festival has developed into a colourful and diverse celebration of Joyce and Ulysses.
Festival highlights include delicious Bloomsday Breakfasts, pub crawls, walking tours through Joyce’s Dublin, and lively literary cabaret. The week of the festival is filled with thought-provoking interviews and contemporary theatre, art and music inspired by Joyce. Amongst the line up of writers, academics, performers and public figures that have been part of the Bloomsday Festival in recent years include Patrick Kavanagh’s grand-niece and actress Katherine Lynch, Stephen Fry, Panti Bliss, Geoff Dyer, and Will Self.
The festival showcases intimate and unusual venues across Dublin that Joyce wrote about in his books. A fine example is the James Joyce Centre, located in a beautifully-restored 18th century Georgian townhouse, where the character Professor Maginni taught dance classes.