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Bloomsday Festival Dublin 11th to 16th June
The Bloomsday Festival is an annual celebration of James Joyce’s modernist epic Ulysses, the events of which take place in Dublin on 16 June 1904. The name is inspired by the main character Leopold Bloom.
The first Bloomsday in Dublin took place in 1954 and was organised by a group of literary and cultural figures including Patrick Kavanagh, Brian O’Nolan, John Ryan and Anthony Cronin. The Bloomsday Festival has developed into a colourful and diverse celebration of Joyce and Ulysses. This world famous literary street carnival typically takes place from 11-16 June in Dublin, the heart of the Hibernian metropolis, the city that inspired Joyce and his major works.
People celebrate Bloomsday by dressing in the fashion of the period, eating food mentioned in the book, visiting the locations where the novel takes place and performing readings from the text. Festival events range from lectures, readings, workshops and walking tours to Bloomsday Breakfasts, theatre, music and pub crawls. Traditional Bloomsday must-sees are the James Joyce Martello Tower in Sandycove, Sweny’s Chemist on Lincoln Place, Glasnevin Cemetery and Davy Byrne’s Pub on Duke Street.
Unless indicated otherwise, all events in the Bloomsday Festival main programme can be booked in the following ways:
OVER THE PHONE: +353 (0)1 878 8547
IN PERSON: Drop into us at the Centre, 35 North Great George’s Street, Dublin 1 to buy your tickets in person.
Please note: All sales are final and nonrefundable. All Bloomsday Festival main programme events are ticketless – your name will be placed on a list for each event booked. Please arrive early for each event – latecomers will only be admitted if there is a suitable interval and tours depart strictly at their scheduled time. All information in the 2019 programme is correct at the time of publication.
Booking information for Bloomsday Fringe events are given under each listing (unless no booking is required). Please note that Bloomsday Fringe events are not organised by the Bloomsday Festival or the James Joyce Centre and as such we accept no responsibility for any issues that may arise.
WHAT IS BLOOMSDAY?
Bloomsday celebrates Thursday 16 June 1904, the day depicted in James Joyce’s novel Ulysses. The day is named after Leopold Bloom, the central character in Ulysses. The novel follows the life and thoughts of Leopold Bloom and a host of other characters – real and fictional – from 8am on 16 June 1904 through to the early hours of the following morning.
Celebrations often include dressing up like characters from the book and in clothes that would have been the style of the era. One of the hallmark fancy dress items of Bloomsday is the straw boater hat. Celebrations come in many different forms like readings, performances and visiting the places and establishments referenced in the book.
THE HISTORY OF BLOOMSDAY
Joyce started writing Ulysses in March 1914, but put it aside again to finish his play Exiles. On 16 June 1915 he wrote to his brother Stanislaus to say he had finished the first episode of Ulysses. After Ulysses was published in 1922, Joyce’s friends began to mark 16 June as Bloomsday.
In 1924, Joyce was in hospital, his eyes bandaged having had one of many operations on them. Friends sent him a bunch of white and blue flowers (white and blue being the colours of the cover of Ulysses) but Joyce despondently scrawled in his notebook ‘Today 16 June 1924 twenty years after. Will anybody remember this date.’ The first major celebration of Bloomsday came in 1929. Adrienne Monnier, partner of the publisher of Ulysses, Sylvia Beach, published Ulysse, the French translation of Ulysses in February. Then, to celebrate the twenty-fifth anniversary of the first Bloomsday, she organised a Déjeuner Ulysse which was held at the Hotel Leopold near Versailles. Unfortunately, the event took place a little late, on 29 June not 16 June.
The first Bloomsday celebrated in Ireland was in 1954, the fiftieth anniversary of the first Bloomsday, when the writers Patrick Kavanagh and Flann O’Brien visited the Martello Tower at Sandycove, Davy Byrne’s pub, and 7 Eccles Street, reading parts of Ulysses and drinking a great deal as they went! Today, Bloomsday is celebrated by Joyceans across the globe with readings, performances, re-enactments, and a host of other events.
THE JAMES JOYCE CENTRE
The James Joyce Centre has been the organiser of the Bloomsday Festival since 1994. The Centre is open year-round as a museum and cultural centre and provides exhibitions, courses, lectures and literary walking tours of Dublin. The Bloomsday Festival is produced and programmed by the the James Joyce Centre, and the Centre also aims to promote all community celebrations of Bloomsday in Dublin.
Photos and text courtesy of the Bloomsday Festival