A Month’s Mind
A month has passed since the 2019 Bloomsday Festival, so we are in a reflective mood. When Ulysses was published, some thought it obscene and unreadable. Joyce responded “if Ulysses isn’t fit to read, then life isn’t fit to live”. This year we toasted life and the continuing power that Joyce’s writings have to excite and inspire.
A month’s mind is a requiem mass that takes place one month after a person’s death. So today we mark the month’s mind for this year’s Bloomsday Festival as well as that of poor Paddy Dignam, whose fictitious funeral Leopold Bloom attends on the 16th June 1904.
In the fantastical “Circe” episode of Ulysses the Daughters of Erin recite:
Kidney of Bloom, pray for us
Flower of the Bath, pray for us
Mentor of Menton, pray for us
Canvasser for the Freeman, pray for us
Charitable Mason, pray for us
Wandering Soap, pray for us
Sweets of Sin, pray for us
Music without Words, pray for us
Reprover of the Citizen, pray for us
Friend of all Frillies, pray for us
Midwife Most Merciful, pray for us
Potato Preservative against Plague and Pestilence, pray for us.
You don’t have to wait until next year’s Bloomsday Festival to explore Dublin through the eyes of James Joyce and his iconic book Ulysses.
At just 15 minutes away from the city centre, Glasnevin Cemetery houses the graves of people connected to Joyce. You will find the graves of character models for many who appear in Ulysses as well as Joyce’s own parents. Alternatively, visit the National Library of Ireland, one of Joyce’s favourite haunts which he wrote about in the “Scylla and Charybdis” episode of Ulysses. The National Library holds a permanent exhibition on W. B. Yeats, Ireland’s first Nobel Laureate for literature. When the young James Joyce met W. B. Yeats, he said “I have met you too late. You are too old for me to have any effect on you.”
In the city centre, the James Joyce Cultural Centre runs three walking tours a week in the summer months, each structured with different themes including “Introducing Joyce’s Dublin,” “Dubliners,” and “The Footsteps of Leopold Bloom.” The Centre houses art exhibitions inspired by Joyce as well as permanent exhibits on Joyce’s life and his works. You will also find the door from no. 7 Eccles Street, Leopold and Molly Bloom’s home, arguably the most famous address in world literature.
Nestling at the southern end of Dublin Bay is the Martello Tower in Sandycove, an old military installation where Joyce lived for a week with Oliver St. John Gogarty. This is also where Joyce sets the opening pages of Ulysses, featuring the eccentric character Buck Mulligan. The James Joyce Tower and Museum has a first edition of Ulysses as well as a number of Joyce’s own personal effects including his guitar, waistcoat, and a tie shared with Samuel Beckett.
You can also visit places in Dublin where Leopold Bloom himself stops on the 16th June 1904. Sweny’s Chemist on Lincoln Place hosts daily reading groups in a number of languages and still sells the lemon soap that Leopold Bloom buys in the “Lotus Eaters” episode of Ulysses. After a visit to Sweny’s, visitors can go to Davy Byrne’s “moral pub” on Duke Street where Bloom buys his lunch of a gorgonzola cheese sandwich and a glass of burgundy. Visitors can still buy this same lunch today to truly follow in the footsteps of Bloom. As you explore Joyce’s Dublin, on most street corners you will bump into a character straight out of the pages of Ulysses.