Ireland is not being shy this month with its commemoration of the publication of James
Joyce’s masterpiece, “Ulysses” 100 years ago.
Dublin’s Bloomsday 2022 six-day program (June 11-16) is meant to be the highlight of the year-long and international celebration of one of the most iconic works of English literature.
“Ulysses” follows the footsteps of Leopold Bloom around Dublin on Thurs., June 16, 1904. For almost 70 years the Bloomsday Festival, named after the lead character, has celebrated the genius of Joyce and the wit and character of the people of Dublin.
This month’s festival features readings, musical concerts, tours, theatre, talks, art, and food and drink events. Highlights include the staging of Joyce’s “Dubliners” in the Smock Alley Theatre; the reading of a new play, “The United States v. Ulysses,” the story of one of the great literary trials of the twentieth century; and “Bloominaushwitz,” a flamboyant, playful investigation of identity and belonging, which sees Bloom escape from the boundaries of the novel and set off to explore his Jewish heritage.
Also in the mix are two world premieres: A one-woman show celebrating the life of Joyce’s wife Nora,and a suite for guitar and strings composed by multi-award nominated musician Joe Chester as tribute to Joyce’s daughter Lucia, a talented but troubled dancer and illustrator.
Among the tours on offer are ‘To Heaven by Water: Exploring the Royal Canal through “Ulysses.” This walking tour along Dublin’s beautiful Royal Canal, guided by three performers, will bring to life some of the key episodes in Joyce’s epic tale.
Beyond the programmed events there will be the usual madcap and impromptu readings of “Ulysses” in pubs, cafes, and even on the streets of the city, while Joyce fans will take the opportunity to dress up in Edwardian garb and visit some of the places mentioned in the novel. These include the James Joyce Tower in Sandycove (now a Joyce museum), Davy Byrnes’s pub, and Sweny’s Pharmacy.
Even after 100 years, Joyce's most famous book is still the perfect guidebook to Dublin city. By the time it was published, Joyce was 40, had lived and travelled all over the world, and was already known for writing “Dubliners “and “The Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man.” But it is his modernist retelling of Homer’s Odyssey that has left the most lasting legacy. With its own annual festival and fans from Salman Rushdie to Jack Kerouac and George Orwell, “Ulysses” changed the literary world forever. Now, a century on, Dublin celebrates 100 years of Joycean genius.
Who was James Joyce?
Born in Dublin in 1882, James Augustine Aloysius Joyce became one of the most influential, innovative, and best-known writers of the 20th century. After graduating from University College Dublin, he met his muse (and eventual wife), Nora Barnacle. So central was she to his life and writing that 16 June, the anniversary of their first date, is when Bloomsday is celebrated each year in Dublin.