Joyce is in our DNA


As Ulysses is interwoven with the fabric of the city of Dublin, so are James Joyce’s words, themes and modernist style with the culture of Ireland. Joyce’s work has long served as an inspiration not only for writers, but for artists working across the disciplines, from music and dance to visual art and theatre. There are endless references to Joyce in popular culture from books, to songs to TV shows and films. Every year, the Bloomsday Festival showcases his impact on contemporary Irish culture by featuring new plays, films, music and art influenced by James Joyce’s life and works.


Joyce’s Influence on the Written Word

The Ulysses Haiku Project sees poets and people expressing their experience of James Joyce’s Ulysses and Bloomsday through Haiku. In the words of the curator, Nickie Hayden: “The book delivers a multitude of voices to be interpreted on many levels. I created the Ulysses Haiku Project to collect poems from people from every walk of life.” Print maker Robert Russell was struck by Joyce’s portrayal of Dublin City in Ulysses, with all the diversity and colour of everyday living. Working with Stephen Fry, Paula Meehan, Rachael Hegarty, Theo Dorgan and Patricia Ross, Russell has combined his personal response with theirs by imprinting their Haiku on five etched images on copper plates. When visiting the exhibition, which is on show throughout the festival at The James Joyce Centre, you are invited to write your own Ulysses, Joyce or Bloomsday inspired Haiku to become part of the exhibition.

James Joyce famously said of his home city ‘‘When I die, Dublin will be written on my heart’’. Like the Dublin of Ulysses, contemporary Dublin is a vibrant multicultural cityscape, bursting with stories waiting to be told. For Ulysses in Distant Lands, EPIC Ireland has commissioned three Irish-based writers with multicultural backgrounds to write their own personal odysseys – to give us a flavour of their own home places, whether Ireland or further afield, those places that will be inscribed upon their hearts forever. The evening will feature Ciaran O’Rourke, Chiamaka Enyi-Amadi, Adam Wyeth and Erin Fornoff as well as music from Farah Elle.


Joyce’s Influence on the Visual Arts

A Vision of Joyce is an exhibition of work by second-year students at Ballyfermot College of Further Education, which will be on display at The James Joyce Centre during the festival. Students studying both Animation and Illustration used James Joyce and his modernist masterpiece Ulysses as a starting point to retrace the steps of Leopold Bloom, producing visual research at locations associated with Ulysses. The work produced at these locations was then developed as background art for a proposed animated film based on the life and works of James Joyce.

The Olivier Cornet Gallery has been involved in Bloomsday celebrations since its owner moved to the area in 2014. This year the exhibition Olives, Oysters and Oranges is a reference to Dr Flicka Small’s thesis which looks at the semiotics of food in Ulysses. The show will feature watercolour paintings by two of the gallery artists, Yanny Petters and Eoin Mac Lochlainn, as well as invited artists Michelle Boyle, Áine Divine and John Keating.

“In our own words, Art draws you out of yourself”.

Shine - Dublin Resource Centre, and located at 13 Belvedere Court, is holding an open day on Friday 14th of June to display various works produced by men and women in the process of recovery from mental ill-health. Shine was founded as The Lucia Foundation and named after James Joyce's daughter Lucia who lived with a diagnosis of schizophrenia.


Joyce’s Influence on the Performing Arts

One of the new plays inspired by Joyce’s life is the one-act play Of Thyme and Rosemary, a conversation between James Joyce and Marcel Proust. The authors first met on 18 May 1922 at a private dinner party at the Hotel Majestic in Paris.  Among the guests were fellow icons of Modernism Diaghilev, Stravinsky and Picasso. Written by Boston-based playwright Debbie Wiess, Of Thyme and Rosemary depicts an imagined second meeting, in which the iconic writers had a true meeting of minds over some white wine. The James Joyce Centre is hosting a rehearsed reading of the play during the Bloomsday Festival 2019.

While Debbie Wiess found inspiration in Joyce’s life, Patrick Morris surprises us with a new take on the life of Leopold Bloom, Joyce’s protagonist from Ulysses. In bloominauschwitz, Bloom escapes the confines of his book to embark on a new odyssey of remembering and forgetting, while the storm clouds of history gather. Bounding back and forth through time, he attempts to discover his true identity through his Jewish roots. Instead, he falls into the decimated heart of Europe to find an altogether more terrifying story waiting for him. Enjoy his tour-de-force which mixes clownish antics with high drama, rich stories and powerful imagery on Bloomsday 2019.

James Joyce’s short story, ‘A Little Cloud’, which first appeared in Dubliners in 1914, has been cleverly contemporized and adapted for theatre in this one act, promenade play by Judder Theatre. As the audience moves around from one space to another, taking in the action, we follow the journey of Little Chandler, as he meets an old school friend, re-awakening the exuberant aspirations of his youth. Joyce’s short story, ‘Eveline’ has been adapted as a one act, one woman show. It is a story that compels us to contemplate how a sense of belonging is deeply rooted in place, and duty. Join Judder Theatre at Doyle’s pub, located on College Green for this moving production starring Romana Testasecca as Eveline.


For a look behind the scenes of James Joyce’s influences on contemporary culture, join us for our creative panel, Go and Create Something. Actor Janet Moran, filmmaker Tommy Creagh and illustrator Niall Laverty from At it Again! will discuss Joyce’s impact on their practice. Actor Janet Moran played Molly Bloom in the Abbey Theatre Production of Ulysses. Niall Laverty is an illustrator and gesture drawing teacher. He is part of At it Again! who have written, illustrated and published the literary pocket guides to Joyce’s work, Romping through Ulysses and Romping through Dubliners. Tommy Creagh is an award winning Filmmaker & Playwright. His film Land of Winter is inspired by Joyce’s short story The Dead and follows a troubled young man between pubs, whilst snow clouds loom over Dublin. The short film will be shown at the event.

It is amazing to see how much of an impact James Joyce and his work continues to have on contemporary Irish literature and art. Maybe seeing all these great new works or hearing how creatives have been influenced by Joyce will inspire you to go and create your own piece of art or literature based on Joyce, his work or Bloomsday. Start today by contributing to the Ulysses Haiku Project. Just email your Haiku to with “Haiku” in the subject line or tweet @JamesJoyceCentr.

Marty GilroyBlog, News