Festival Highlights


The diversity of the Bloomsday Festival is what makes it so attractive and interesting. And every year we try to include some flagship events among the smaller more intimate events. This year’s big festival events are:

Bloomsday Interview

Join us for a magical night full of Joycean stories on Bloomsday Eve at Belvedere College supported by Dublin City Council and Dublin UNESCO City of Literature.

Every Dubliner has their own story about James Joyce, and no one more so than our best-known Joycean, Senator David Norris. Senator Norris has been at the heart of Joyce’s Dublin for nearly sixty years. For our Bloomsday Interview, Senator Norris will sit down with Irish journalist, RTE presenter and former newsreader Anne Doyle to discuss all things Joyce. The interview will take place in Joyce’s alma mater, Belvedere College at the top of the road where the James Joyce Centre is located, around the corner from O’Connell Street.

David Norris was Senior Lecturer in the Department of English in Trinity College Dublin for almost 30 years. Students from across faculties crammed into his stimulating lectures. He wrote Introducing Joyce: A Graphic Guide, edited the International James Joyce Symposium and helped organise the Joyce Centenary Celebrations in Dublin in 1982. He was instrumental in establishing the Bloomsday Festival which is now celebrated all over the world on the 16th of June each year.

David Norris is one of Ireland’s leading Joyce scholars, was Founding Chairman of the James Joyce Centre and the North Great Georges Street Preservation Society. He is also known for his work on national and international human and civil rights and equality issues as well as the conservation of Dublin’s architectural heritage. David Norris was a candidate in the Irish Presidential election 2011. His autobiography A Kick Against the Pricks has been nominated for several prizes. As the longest serving member of Seanad Eireann,  Senator David Norris became “Father of the House” in 2011.

Join us on Bloomsday Eve for what promises to be a magical evening. As part of the event, Senator Norris will present The David Norris Award for significant contribution to Joycean Dublin and Bloomsday to this year’s winner. Book your ticket here.

Poetry Brothel: O, Rocks!

Head down to this year’s Poetry Brothel celebration of James Joyce straight after the Bloomsday Interview. It’s about a 5-10 min walk down O’Connell Street and along Henry Street to the Church Bar and Restaurant. The Poetry Brothel has taken Molly’s words to heart for Bloomsday 2019: “O, rocks, tell us in plain words”. We celebrate the city itself, the characters and situations of Dublin common to us all. Like ‘Wandering Rocks’ transmigrating through this city from dawn until dusk (from birth until death), it is Dublin herself that we celebrate and we invite you to celebrate with us! The Poetry Brothel is an immersive literary cabaret nightclub experience, a place where spoken word artists, jazz musicians, burlesque dancers, body painters, magicians, drag performers and tarot card readers mingle and perform — but poetry holds centre stage as the headline act. The line-up will include many stars of Dublin’s vibrant and growing spoken word movement, who will perform onstage and will be available (for a fee) to take you into a dark corner to read you a poem, one-to-one.

Special guests at this year’s Poetry Brothel include stained glass poet and performer Alison Grace Koehler (visiting from Poetry Brothel Paris), burlesque diva and hooper extraordinaire Shir Madness, and up-and-coming spoken word virtuoso, artist and designer Deirdre Rose, among many others. Your hosts on the night will be New Yorker John M Farrell, vampiric monsieur noir Andrej Kapor (visiting from the Netherlands), and of course, in the role of Madam, the inimitable Rachel Lally. So come join us for an intimate night of jazz, magic, burlesque, tarot, and of course, poetry and book your ticket here.  

The Bloomsday Blowout

Back in 1904, the ‘Monto’ area of Dublin was Europe’s largest red-light district. Joyce called it ‘Nighttown’, which was slang amongst journalists for the night shift. The surreal and energetic ‘Circe’ episode of Ulysses unravels on its fantastical streets. “The famished snaggletusks of an elderly bawd protrude from a doorway.”

The Bloomsday Blowout is a literary salon inspired by James Joyce set in ‘Nighttown’. It’s a glorious convergence of Bloomsday adventurers and chancers. In one moment it’s an intimate evening of readings and song. In the next it’s shape-shifting midsummer madness.

If you were part of the mayhem that was the Bloomsday Blowout Cabaret last year, you will be delighted to know that Phil T Gorgeous is back as the host assisted by the Irish writer Peter Murphy who will act as a narrator. To provide some excitement, the beautiful Burlesque ladies, Bonnie Boux and Azaria Starfire will entertain you together with Paddy Fagan. Music and song will be brought to you by Britain’s Got Talent’s Brian Gilligan who wowed us last year with his amazing voice.

Bella Cohen’s Bloomsday Blowout is bursting with readings, performances, song, audience participation, comedic interludes and music. Let this literary adventure suck you down the rabbit hole into Joyce’s Dublin. You might be surprised by what you find in Joyce’s Ulysses. Book your tickets here.

The Bloomsday Blowout will take place in The Laughter Lounge this year. The Laughter Lounge is easily accessible as it is on the north bank of the river Liffey next to O’Connell Bridge and around the corner from O’Connell Street.


Something is very wrong for Leopold Bloom, worldwide phenomenon & hero of Ulysses. Visitations from the future, ghosts from the past and the burning question ‘Who am I and where do I belong?!’. The only clues lie in his one day of literary life – 16th June 1904 – written for him by Joyce.

As the storm clouds of history gather, Bloom escapes the confines of his book to embark on a new odyssey of remembering and forgetting. 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.

Don’t miss the only performances of bloominauschwitz in Ireland by UK-based Menagerie Theatre Company in the New Theatre on Bloomsday. Catch the Matinée or evening performance in Temple Bar of this tour-de-force which mixes clownish antics with high drama, rich stories and powerful imagery. Watch Patrick Morris as Leopold Bloom who struggles with his identity as history’s events overtake him. The play celebrates open-heartedness in the face of hatred and fear. It surprises, appalls and delights in equal measure, marking it as truly fit for our turbulent times. Book your tickets here.

Marty GilroyBlog, News