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Bloomsday in Szombathely

Founded by the Romans in 45AD, close to what is now the border with Austria, Szombathely is Hungary’s oldest city and, with a population of 150,000, the nation’s 10th largest urban area.

Drawing on his experience teaching Hungarian émigrés in Trieste, James Joyce made Leopold Bloom, protagonist of Ulysses, the son of a Rudolf Virág, a Jewish immigrant born in Szombathely.

In 1994, five years after the Berlin Wall fell, a group of artists, literary historians, and cultural activists celebrated Hungary’s first Bloomsday in Szombathely. Since then, the city has embraced its Joycean heritage, hosting a two-day festival every June, attended annually by tens of thousands of people – the biggest Bloomsday this side of the Irish Sea.

Blum-House was inaugurated in 1997, having served as home to Márton Blum and his family from the mid-19th century. In 2004, a stunning statue of Joyce was embedded in the Blum-House wall. In 2020, with the support of Ireland’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Dublin Project Arts, Szombathely launched an ambitious new multi-year project, commissioning leading Irish and Hungarian artists to create murals inspired by each of Ulysses’s 18 episodes.  After Aideen Barry and Garreth Joyce, Mark Joyce will become the third Irish artists to unveil a Joycean mural in Szombathely this Bloomsday; with six Hungarian artists also having completed work, the project will reach its half way point.

This Bloomsday will also see the extensive collection of the Leopold Bloom Art Foundation, established by Irish entrepreneurs Mary McLoughlin and John Ward, placed with the Gallery of Szombathely. Since 2011, the Foundation has honoured outstanding contemporary Hungarian artists each year with the Leopold Bloom Art Award, one of central Europe’s most prestigious prizes. Their outstanding collection will be exhibited now in Szombathely as part of a special collaborative programme with the Embassy of Ireland celebrating the 30th anniversary of Hungary’s Bloomsday.

More information about the festival can be found on its website and Facebook.

  • 14 - 16 June, 2024
12:00 pm6:00 pm

  • Szombathely, Hungary

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