What is Bloomsday and how to celebrate it in Dublin?

By Katy Thornton

June 16, 2022 at 9:06am

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The annual Bloomsday Festival is upon us.

 

From the 12th to the 18th of July, Dublin celebrates the festival that is known as Bloomsday. Not to be confused with Bloom, which also took place earlier in the month, Bloomsday celebrates something else entirely.

What is Bloomsday?

According to the official Bloomsday website, it celebrates the 16th June 1904, which is the day James Joyce's world renowned Ulysses is set. The central character, Leopold Bloom, is where the day gets its name. If you haven't read Ulysses (hey, I did an English degree and I haven't quite battled that particular beast yet) it essentially follows Leopold as he embarks on a day in Dublin on the 16th June, visiting important places and coming into contact with a series of interesting people.

This year marks 100 years since Sylvia Beach published Ulysses in Paris, so it has an extra special meaning.

What's on in Dublin this Bloomsday?

While the festival is a week long, these are the different events taking places on Thursday the 16th June.

Celebrating Ulysses Exhibition

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Location: National Gallery of Ireland

There's a ton going on at The National Gallery for Bloomsday (check out our article HERE if you want ideas on what to do after a visit) including a James Joyce exhibition. The Celebrating Ulysses Exhibition runs until the 21st August, so you have plenty of time to check it out. According to their website: "These striking drawings and etchings from the 1960s and 70s bring to life characters and episodes from the modernist novel, offering a new context in which to see Molly and Leopold Bloom, Stephen Dedalus and Buck Mulligan."

Readings and Songs

Location: Temple Bar 

There will be lots of readings done in Temple Bar on the 16th between 3pm and 6pm. Those speaking include Louise O'Neill, Mia Gallagher, Chandrika Narayanan-Mohan, Patrick Bergin, and many, many more. This is a free event so just turn up on the day and enjoy.

A Rare Journey - Nora Joyce's Odyssey

Location: Smock Alley Theatre

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This play, written by Paula Greevy-Lee shows twice on Bloomsday, once at 1:30pm and once at 8pm. You can get tickets for it HERE. The play follows as  "Nora retraces the exhilarating highs and best-left-unsaid lows of her life since the fateful meeting with a cocky young James Joyce on Nassau Street all those years ago." Tickets are €20 each and the shows runs for 70 minutes with no interval.

bloominauschwitz

Location: The New Theatre

Showing at 1:30pm and 7pm on the 16th June, bloominauschwitz is a play in which we see Leopold Bloom embark on a very different kind of day, one where he goes, "on a quest to discover his Jewish heritage and plunges head-first into the dark heart of European history." The play, written by Richard Fredman is considered "an exhilarating one-man epic" and a must-see for any fan of Ulysses.

Visit to the James Joyce Tower & Museum

Location: Sandycove

Naturally visiting the James Joyce Tower and Museum is a good idea for the day that's in it. There's free admission into the museum, with events costing €5 each. There will be a reading of Episode 1 Telemachus at 8am and then another reading by Bryan Murray at 9:30am. You can check out what else is happening HERE.

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Bloomsday Walk

Multiple Locations

Several walking tours will be on to celebrate Bloomsday 2022, through many of the Dublin spots mentioned in Ulysses. There's a Pat Liddy walking tour, an Abbey Theatre walking tour, an exploration of the Royal Canal, and more.

We barely even scratched the surface of what's going on today for Bloomsday, you can check all of them out HERE.

And of course, if you can't make it to any of these events but wish to get involved, there's always the option of reading Ulysses as well.

Header image via Flickr

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