Happy Bloomsday, intolerable Joyceans everywhere!

If you don’t know by now, it’s tradition!  [We know… – Ed].

Those of a sensitive disposition are duly warned, once again, that James Joyce enjoys the language in all its fecund nuttiness.

And a reminder of a brief history of the day, from the Guardian last year, which includes this great 1924 quote from Joyce on Ulysses – “I have to convince myself that I wrote that book. I used to be able to talk intelligently about it.”

In June of 1929, [Sylvia Beach, founder of the Paris bookshop Shakespeare and Company and the first publisher of Ulysses in 1922] was part of a celebration of Bloomsday and the publication of the French translation of Ulysses organised by the bookseller and publisher Adrienne Monnier, her partner. Monnier put on a charabanc trip out of Paris, in which Joyce participated, along with Samuel Beckett, his son Giorgio and others.

In true Bloomsday style, “Samuel Beckett got outrageously drunk. They kept stopping for drinks along the way and it was said that he was thrown off the bus for causing a rumpus,” says Bowker. “But Beckett himself said he decided to leave the trip.”

Joyce’s last Bloomsday would take place on 16 June 1940, when the author was trapped in Vichy France, two days after Paris fell. He died the next year, and according to Mark Traynor, managing director of the James Joyce Centre in Dublin, the next time the event was properly marked was in Dublin in 1954.

“It was a small event but it was reflective of the book’s growing recognition. Even though it was largely confined to the artistic community in Dublin, it recognised the growing significance of the work and of Joyce’s international contribution to literature,” says Traynor.

Organised by the publican and critic John Ryan, participants in the 1954 Bloomsday included the authors Patrick Kavanagh and Flann O’Brien. “They attempted to retrace the journeys taken by the characters in the book, starting at the tower and making their way to Sandymount Strand. They had a horse and carriage, but they were all heavy drinkers, and although the plan had been to re-enact the whole book, according to accounts, by the time they reached the city centre, they abandoned that and spent the night in the pub,” says Traynor.

Footage of the event on YouTube shows a chaotic affair, punctuated by impromptu urination stops and staggering. “It was a bit half-arsed,” says Traynor.


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  • Neonlights

    Currently reading The Dubliners here, but have yet to fall madly in step with this worship Joyce business.

  • Brian Kann

    Excellent video above and lovely piece. To think so many of these writers were first and foremost, great drinkers, Joyce included.Going out on a limb here but Dubliners is my favourite – a real time capsule view of the city and has the most beautiful prose to go with it.

  • notimetoshine

    I have to agree with you there. Like most I could never finish Ulysses though I have dipped in and out of it but Dubliners is a firm favourite of mine. I love Ivy day in the committee room, that first paragraph describing old Jack raking the fire is like chocolate to the ears.

  • David Crookes

    Does anyone reckon that James Joyce was not a great writer?

  • ted hagan

    Wait till you read the final, and best, story. Sheer genius.

  • ted hagan

    You’re inviting a ‘yes’ I take it?


    Yes, uneducated people.

  • David Crookes

    No, Ted, merely asking a question. But I do reckon that there’s far too much talk about James Joyce, and not enough talk about Amanda McKittrick Ros.

    Must go and read ‘The Emperor’s Clothes’ again.

  • Lex.Butler

    How many pub crawls in Ireland start of with the best of intentions and end up halfway by deciding to stick in one pub followed by a pastie supper and cursing the diced carrots.

  • Brian Kann

    Tis indeed. Forget the name of the story, but the one about the Northern copy writer (Allen perhaps?) nipping out from the job frequently to spake his thirst is a pleasure to read.

  • BonaparteOCoonassa

    To beat that, turn to Flann O’Brien:

    – Your name he wants!
    My heart leaped with joy at this assistance and I was grateful to him who prompted me. I looked politely at the Master and replied to him:
    – Bonaparte, son of Michelangelo, son of Peter, son of Owen, son of Thomas’s Sarah, grand-daughter of John’s Mary, grand-daughter of James, son of Dermot . . .
    Before I had uttered or half-uttered my name, a rabid bark issued from the Master and he beckoned to me with his finger. By the time I had reached him he had an oar in his grasp. Anger had come over him in a flood tide by this stage and he had a business-like grip of the oar in his two hands. He drew it over his shoulder and brought it down hard upon me with a swish of air, dealing me a destructive blow on the skull. I fainted from that blow but before I became totally unconscious I heard him scream:
    – Yer nam, said he, is Jams O’Donnell!

  • David Crookes

    Many thanks, BOC!

  • file

    I have always maintained there should be some sort of erection on Sandymount Strand to mark Bloom’s evening onanism there.

  • ted hagan

    Flann O’Brien in full flow all right. Makes the others look like amateurs.

  • SeaanUiNeill

    Of course Joyce himself was so familiar with Amanda’s work, and parodies her stylistically freely in both “Ulysses” and “Finnegan’s Wake.”

    The rightly famous Molly Bloom soliloquy at the end of “Ulysses” is a direct parody of the end of Amanda’s earlier response to Barry Pain’s spoof review of “Irene Iddesleigh” in “Black and White”:

    “Never in the knowledge of man has there been such a downpour of expression, such a page of kindliness, as that found in Black and White, page 249, of 19th February, 1898, entitled “The Book of the Century,” by (I’m all in a swoon!) – by (ah, the thought is too great, it is too much!) – by Bar – (Almighty Father, my brain is in a whizz!) – Barry – (I’m tremendous sick!) – P – (Holy of Holies! ) – Pa – (the heart’s pulsations are about to stop!) – Pain! – (not a bit of them! I’ve got relief, by heavens! relief at last!)”


  • mickfealty

    “Gaels! It delights my Gaelic heart to be here today speaking Gaelic with you at this Gaelic feis in the centre of the Gaeltacht. May I state that I am a Gael. I’m Gaelic from the crown of my head to the soles of my feet. . . . If we’re truly Gaelic, we must constantly discuss the question of the Gaelic revival and the question of Gaelicism. There is no use in having Gaelic, if we converse in it on non-Gaelic topics. He who speaks Gaelic but fails to discuss the language question is not truly Gaelic in his heart; such conduct is of no benefit to Gaelicism because he only jeers at Gaelic and reviles the Gaels. There is nothing in this life so nice and so Gaelic as truly true Gaelic Gaels who speak in true Gaelic Gaelic about the truly Gaelic language.”

  • BonaparteOCoonassa

    Hah! very topical. Nice to see you’re a supporter of the Language Act, Mick. Mhic an Diabhal! 🙂

  • mickfealty

    It goes way deeper than that Boney!!

  • BonaparteOCoonassa

    Your meaning is obscure. Are you getting into post-modernism? 🙂