Joycean Fun: Bloomsday in Dublin

Where else but in Ireland—land of saints and scholars, sinners and storytellers—could you celebrate the secular feast day of a fictional character?

On Bloomsday, Dublin toasts the genius of James Joyce, as his beguiling, bewildering novel Ulysses comes alive.

June 16 is the day to dive into Dublin life at its most irreverent and surreal. The rain holds off—usually—and Dubliners wander the streets and bars, enjoying their short summer.

The original Bloomsday of 1904 follows Leopold Bloom and a host of other characters—real and fictional—from early morning onward. Today, Joyceans dress in Edwardian costume and gather at locations where episodes of Ulysses unfold. Among the citywide events, the James Joyce Centre hosts Bloomsday breakfasts (including fried kidneys, which Bloom eats for breakfast).

Entering into the spirit of Joyce’s wandering Everyman is easy; all you need is a copy of the book, a map of the city, and a little imagination.

Be (re)creative: Attend a funeral, lounge in a midday bath, stay out late. Enjoy, in the words of Irish-American author Frank McCourt, “a journey through Dublin and Ireland and family and Catholicism and eroticism and love.” All the while declaring, like character Molly Bloom, “yes I will Yes.”

> Making the Most of Your Bloomsday Experience

You can always have a Guinness and an Irish cheddar sandwich. Joyce would approve of the subversion. But here are more “authentic” Bloomsday options:

Start in Sandycove, at the stone-walled martello tower where Bloom’s day begins (Episode 1, “Telemachus”). Fittingly, the beloved seaside structure is now home to the James Joyce Museum.

At Lincoln Place, near Trinity University, visit “the worst Pharmacy in the city,” where Bloom buys a bar of lemon soap (Episode 5, “Lotus-Eaters”). Sweny’s Pharmacy is dedicated to preserving itself as it was in Joyce’s time and hosts lunch hour readings of the author’s work.

Next, head to Davy Byrnes Pub on Duke Street, where Bloom lunches on a Gorgonzola sandwich and a glass of Burgundy (Episode 8, “Lestrygonians”).

This text was taken from the National Geographic book Four Seasons of Travel: 400 of the World’s Best Destinations in Winter, Spring, Summer, and Fall.

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  1. Patrick Horan
    Cathal Brugha St Dublin
    May 25, 2016, 6:51 am

    We are delighted to annonce that this Year the Dublin College of Catering (Cathal Brugha St) will be celebrating Bloomsday in style by hosting a sumptuous Bloomsday Breakfast at 10am on the 16th of June. Dr. Roland McHugh the renowned author of “Annotations to Finnegans Wake” will join us for breakfast and he will interpret excerpts from Finnegans Wake. Tickets are priced at €20 and available on Come Join us and get Bloomsday off to a flying start.

  2. Marilia:
    June 6, 2015, 3:50 am

    Aw how I wish I had read about this earlier. This sounds like so much fun.
    Dublin is a great city to visit, I loved my trip there.
    I was also really impressed by this: