This is the most historic spot in all Dublin
What do do on your
When travelling to Dublin to immerse yourself in James Joyce’s epic novel, Ulysses, you can visit many of the locations featured in the book. On Bloomsday, locals and visitors gather at these locations and recreate scenes from Ulysses. This is a traditional part of the Bloomsday celebrations.
Stephen Dedalus’ journey starts at 8am in Sandycove at the Martello Tower where ‘Buck’ Mulligan, his friend and fellow medical student, begins the day with a shave on top of the tower. After a quick breakfast he also goes for a swim in the Forty Foot, a bathing place at the foot of the tower. On Bloomsday, you will find people who shave and swim there at 8 o’clock in the morning. Will you join them this year?
Leopold Bloom starts his day with a breakfast of fried kidneys in No 7 Eccles Street. As this house no longer exists, people have their Bloomsday Breakfasts in various places around the city, like the James Joyce Centre, the Bloomsday Villages, Dalkey or Boxty House in Temple Bar. If you are not into kidneys for breakfast, don’t worry. Most places offer alternative options and full Irish breakfasts.
After his breakfast, Leopold Bloom runs errands. He visits Sweny’s Chemist and buys some lemon soap. Sweny’s Chemist, a Victorian pharmacy, still retains its interior and is run by volunteers. There are readings of Joyce’s works every day. It is a hotspot on Bloomsday, so pop by and get your bar of lemon soap.
Bloom’s next stop is a funeral at Glasnevin Cemetery. Poor Paddy Dignam has met his maker. Every year, Glasnevin Cemetery puts on a re-enactment of the ‘Hades’ episode among the graves on Bloomsday. You can also enjoy a Bloomsday Breakfasts in the café and go on a tour of the cemetery. Joyce’s mother and father are buried there.
After completing his errands, Leopold Bloom goes in search of lunch. He meanders through Dublin until he finds what he is looking for at Davy Byrne’s in Duke Street. Stop there or across the road at The Bailey (also mentioned in Ulysses) to eat Bloom’s lunch of gorgonzola cheese and Burgundy.
“There's music everywhere.”
Especially in Ulysses. James Joyce was a great singer himself and he put a lot of music into his book. One of his main characters, Molly Bloom, is a concert soprano. You will hear plenty of people bursting into song around you on Bloomsday, celebrating the music in Joyce’s work. To become familiar with the songs and have a great start to the Bloomsday celebrations, go on a journey with Songs of Joyce at Bewley’s starting this week.
In the last chapter of the book, Molly Bloom remembers when Leopold proposed to her at a picnic on Howth Head. Howth peninsula is a stunning place to visit with its cliff walks and views of Dublin Bay. If the weather is fine, pack your picnic basket (don’t forget the gorgonzola and Burgundy!) and head out to Howth Head for a picturesque day trip on the coast. End the day in one of the many fish restaurants in the harbour.
There are other events and activities that over the years have become part of the traditional Bloomsday celebrations. For example, going on one of the many walking, bus or bike tours the festival offers is a great opportunity to learn more about Joyce, his works and Dublin. Another traditional event is the Bloomsday Readings & Songs. Authors, singers, actors, politicians and other performers read excerpts from Ulysses or sing songs mentioned in the book. This year’s line-up on Wolfe Tone Square is hosted by author Christine Dwyer-Hickey and features Irish singer, Camille O’Sullivan.
Of course, you don’t need to be a celebrity or an actor to read Ulysses. Having another go at reading the Blue Book of Eccles is something many Dubliners do on Bloomsday.
So - read on!