A Wandering Homage to James Joyce, Dubliner Extraordinaire
In 1922, at the age of forty, revered Irish novelist James Joyce published his masterwork, Ulysses, which details a single memorable day in the life of Leopold Bloom, Irishman, Jew, and modem Odysseus. Today the quirky citywide Bloomsday festival celebrates that one day—June 16, 1904—with wandering Joyceans following Bloom’s every footstep and seeking to relive the sights, smells, and sounds of turn- of-the-century Dublin.
With much of the city little changed since then, this is not such a stretch. Davy Byrnes, the famous “moral pub” mentioned in Ulysses, is a case in point, drawing writers and poets since 1873 and still going strong. Devout Joyce lovers from Dublin and abroad, often dressed in Edwardian garb of boater hats, waistcoats, long skirts and parasols, retrace Bloom’s day by ordering Gorgonzola sandwiches, sipping (much) Burgundy wine and Guinness stout, and buying cakes of lemon soap.
The James Joyce Center, focal point for the popular ten-day festival (but one of many organizations involved), offers an extensive roster of activities such as lectures, walking tours, readings, and reenactments of the best-known scenes from Ulysses.
Located in a beautifully restored Georgian town house, the center’s archives, exhibits, and reference library are open year-round. Erratically scheduled but worth checking out: the chance of accompanying Joyce’s nephew on a walking tour of neighborhood sites in local “Joyce Country.”