How to prepare for your Bloomsday Pilgrimage (Part 2)

Food and drink are everywhere in Joyce’s Ulysses, whether it’s Bloom’s pork kidney breakfast, his lunch of gorgonzola cheese and Burgundy or the potato he carries in his pocket as a talisman of his Irish mother. Through its focus on the body and its natural processes, the novel constantly reminds us of the significance of food in our lives. At one point, Bloom even makes the lofty claim that “peace and war depend on some fellow’s digestion”. Food has also become central to Bloomsday celebrations over the years, so make sure you plan your refreshments around our food and drink events.

Bloomsday Breakfasts

To start your day, book yourself in for one of the following Bloomsday breakfasts:


Traditionally, people eat fried kidneys as Leopold Bloom does in Ulysses, but most places offer standard Irish breakfasts and even vegan or gluten-free options. For more information read our blog on Bloomsday Breakfasts.

Get a light snack in Davy Byrne’s. Stopgap. Keep me going. Had a good breakfast….Let me see. I’ll take a glass of burgundy and... let me see...
— Have you a cheese sandwich?
— Yes, sir.
Like a few olives too if they had them. Italian I prefer. Good glass of burgundy; take away that. Lubricate.
... A cheese sandwich, then. Gorgonzola, have you?
— Yes, sir.
— 'Lestrygonians', "Ulysses"

After an eventful Bloomsday morning, go in search of lunch like Leopold Bloom does in the ‘Lestrygonians’ episode or join the Joyce of Food tours (12-16 June) and visit three traditional Irish eateries where you will enjoy Joyce inspired delicacies. You can also visit the place that Bloom chose for his lunch, Davy Byrne’s. They still serve gorgonzola and Burgundy in honour of this character’s meal and people gather at the pub and read and sing texts and songs from Joyce. Around the corner, you will find the stunning Bewley’s Café on Grafton Street, which offers brunch, lunch and sweet treats accompanied by life performances around Joyce’s work. Or if you want to do something for a good cause, you can still sign up for the Bloomsday Messenger Bike Rally & Lunch in aid of the Irish Youth Foundation on 7 June.  

She poured in a teacup tea, then back in the teapot tea. They cowered under their reef of counter, waiting on footstools, crates upturned, waiting for their teas to draw.
— 'Sirens', "Ulysses"

If you are feeling light-headed from walking and celebrating in the afternoon, book yourself in for an Afternoon Tea in the stunning surroundings of the 18th-century building that now houses the James Joyce Centre, but used to be the dancing academy of Professor Maginni from Ulysses. Add a Prosecco to your order for an extra kick.

Some of the events at this year’s Bloomsday Festival don’t serve refreshments, but are directly inspired by the references to food and drink in Ulysses. Whet your appetite at Olives, Oysters and Oranges in the Olivier Cornet Gallery, where two of the gallery artists, Yanny Petters and Eoin Mac Lochlainn, as well as invited artists Michelle Boyle, Áine Divine and John Keating will exhibit their paintings. The exhibition will open on Thursday 13th June 7pm and will run throughout Bloomsday week. On Saturday 15th June and Sunday 16th June, Dublin Sketchers will present an exhibition of sketchbooks, also on the theme of food, in the beautiful Blue Room above the gallery. On Sunday 16th June, from 3pm onwards, visitors will be able to indulge in a selection of food and cheeses from the Derry-based award-winning artisan Tamnagh Foods. A live performance of ‘Penelope’ by the artist Caitríona Ní Threasaigh will also take place on the day.

This year’s Bloomsday Body Painting Jam will also be inspired by the theme of food and consumption. Joyce described Dublin’s fair city using vivid imagery of food stuffs. So, if you are feeling artistic become creative or pose as the canvas. You will find more information on how to join the Jam here.


Whiskey flows through Joyce’s works, from the stories of ‘The Sisters’ and ‘Counterparts’ to the life-giving elixir at the heart of Finnegans Wake. In fact so central was it to his last work that, when proposing the ill-conceived notion of having fellow novelist James Stephens finish Finnegans Wake as his health declined, Joyce quipped that it would be apt to have ‘JJ and S’ under the title – a reference to one of Dublin’s most famous whiskey distillers John Jameson & Sons. Whiskey also had an important historical and biographical significance for Joyce, whose father was secretary of the Dublin and Chapelizod Distillery Company and whose maternal grandfather John Murray once acted as sales representative for Powers whiskey. If you want to find out more about Joyce and whiskey and discover the vibrant distillery scene in Dublin, join Irish Food Trail on one of their Joyce of Whiskey tours (12-16 June).

You can’t have a drink in Barney Kiernan’s pub from the ‘Cyclops’ episode in Ulysses anymore, but a new bar has just opened next door to where it used to be. Bar 1661 are offering two-for-one on their poitín based cocktails, The Barney Kiernan, for the duration of the Bloomsday Festival.

From the cellar grating floated up the flabby gush of porter. Through the open doorway the bar squirted out whiffs of ginger, teadust, biscuitmush.
— 'Calpyso', "Ulysses"

Drink plays a big role in Ulysses and our famous porter, Guinness, is one of the main beverages consumed in the pages of the book. So, on your visit to this fair city, don’t forget to explore the Guinness Storehouse and taste your complimentary pint while you look out over Joyce’s Dublin.

Sláinte!

Marty GilroyBlog, News