What to do on Bloomsday Eve
The Bloomsday Festival programme is full of events that cover James Joyce and Ulysses from a variety of angles. Discover this Irish writer and his works through food & drink, literature, art, film, music, theatre, cabaret, talks and interviews. If you are joining us just for the weekend, you will find plenty to do. To help you plan your Bloomsday celebrations, we have put together ideas for your weekend in Dublin. Most of the events are no more than a 5-15 min walk from each other in the city centre north and south of the river Liffey or easily accessible by Luas (tram) or bus. Here is what you can do on Bloomsday Eve, Saturday 15 June.
A great way to explore the city through Joyce’s eyes is with a tour. Choose from the Bloomsday Monto Walking Tour through Dublin’s former red light district and the location of the ‘Circe’ episode in James Joyce’s Ulysses, or a self-guided tour through the GPO on O’Connell Street, where you will find out more about Dublin in 1904 when the novel is set. Or you might want to take in an exhibition, like Olives, Oysters and Oranges in the Olivier Cornet Gallery, inspired by references to food in Joyce’s work, just up the road from the James Joyce Centre on the northside of the Liffey and a 5 min walk from O’Connell Street.
If you need refreshments after tours and art, you can stay in GPO’s courtyard café, stop in one of the many eateries along Parnell Street and around O’Connell Street or splash out at Wynn’s Hotel, which is mentioned in Ulysses, and have lunch in their Playwright Restaurant, restored to its original style of the early 1900’s - Ulyssean times.
Or combine food with entertainment at Bewley’s Café on Grafton Street with Blooming Ulysses or at the Books Upstairs Café, where there will be a short performance of 'Telemachus', the first chapter of Ulysses. You can also catch a lunchtime performance from the ‘Lotus Eaters’ episode at Sweny’s Pharmacy where the chapter is set. If you are fluent in Italian, visit the National Library, setting of the ‘Scylla & Charybdis’ episode, to explore the presence of James Joyce's works in Italian culture. Or you could take the Tour Joyce in Italiano for the afternoon.
You can also discover Joyce through food with the Joyce of Food tour. You will experience three traditional Irish eateries with a local guide. Each restaurant will provide a different course inspired by Joyce’s work accompanied by a reading of the excerpt from Ulysses to which it relates. You will enjoy starters, mains and desserts all paired with a glass of Irish beer, cider, or wine - you won’t go home hungry.
Bloomsday Eve is bursting with events. Listen to the best Bloomsday stories from Ireland’s best loved Joycean, Senator David Norris. He will be interviewed by Anne Doyle, Irish journalist, RTE presenter and former news reader at the Bloomsday Interview. It is also a chance to visit James Joyce’s old school, Belvedere College. Catch the Judder Theatre’s performance of two short stories from Dubliners, ‘A Little Cloud’ and ‘Evelyne’ at Doyle’s Pub just behind the Westin Hotel on Westmoreland Street. Or if you are more into film, head south to Brooks Hotel, which is hosting the screening of Joyce on Film: 2 Shorts:‘Land of Winter’ and ‘Penelope’ in their private cinema.
Afterwards, head straight over to The Church Bar and Restaurant for the anarchic fun that is the Poetry Brothel. This year it is inspired by Molly Bloom’s words: “O, rocks, tell us in plain words” and celebrates the city itself, the characters and situations of Dublin common to us all. Listen to local and international spoken word artists and musicians, have a one-on-one with a poet or your cards read. Finish the night at Bar 1661 with their 2-for-one deal on their Bloomsday cocktail, the Barney Kiernan. This bar just opened next door to where the original Barney Kiernan’s pub from the ‘Cyclops’ episode used to be.
Alternatively, spend the evening at Buswell’s Hotel where you will find the answer to How to Marry a Literary Genius. With theatre scenes from Arthur Miller’s work, readings from Ulysses and musical numbers with a touch of Billy Wilder, it is inspired by the 1955 photograph of Marilyn Monroe reading the final pages of Ulysses.