Insider Tips

An Alternative Bloomsday in Dublin

By Visit Dublin

15th January 2019

Does the mere mention of James Joyce’s modernist classic Ulysses fill you with an unnamed terror? Revered the world over as one of the great works by Irish writers, there’s no doubt this epic tome is a modernist masterpiece – but let’s be honest, reading it from cover to cover is no walk in the park.

3 Images: James Joyce - Ladies enjoying the festival and a young boy in costume
This epic tome

Whether it reared its mammoth head on your college syllabus, or at one point you just fancied an impromptu literary challenge, we won’t judge if you secretly gave up after page 4. Quick summary: Ulysses is the story of a guy called Leopold Bloom, who strolls around Dublin on 16th June 1904. Yep, there are some nifty literary flourishes courtesy of Mr. Joyce, but that’s basically it! Bloomsday therefore celebrates and recreates Leopold’s journey - the story starts in Sandycove and eventually ends up on Dublin's northside. So, even if you’ve just a passing (aka extremely nervous) interest in the book, there’s plenty to see and do here in Dublin as part of this year’s celebrations.

In fact, you might just come away with a whole new appreciation of this iconic Irish writer and his most famous work. With that in mind, here are some of the most fun alternative events set to take place around the big day…

Man sitting beside a gramaphone with painting of James Joyce behind him
One of the great literary festivals

Bloomsday is a key feature of Dublin in June and one of the city’s great literary festivals. The Irish spirit of choice — whiskey — plays an important role in Joyce's literature and indeed in his own background; his father was secretary of the Dublin and Chapelizod Distillery Co and his maternal grandfather John Murray once acted as sales representative for Powers. Delve into some whiskey history with The Joyce of Whiskey Deluxe event, in association with Irish Food Trails.

The Bloomsday Festival has also organised The Joyce of Food event, in association with Irish Food Trails to help Joyce aficionados experience some authentic flavours. Snack on some of the weird and not so weird food found throughout the book on this three hour tour.

Sweeney's Pharmacy Dublin
Dublin's colourful past

As well as the main festivities, the Bloomsday Fringe adds even more fun to the festival with some independent events happening throughout the city. 

Pop into Sweny’s pharmacy for a medicinal cup of tea and soak up the atmosphere as experienced by Leopold. Buy some lemon soap, enjoy readings of the book itself or just inhale the wondrous scents of the multitude of herbs and ointments on display.

Objects of Joyce, hat, map, walking stick, bowtie and wine glass

This year head to the Abbey for Dermot Bolger’s brilliantly adapted, vibrant version of James Joyce’s classic. Bloom’s odyssey is a pandemonium of live music, puppets, dancing, clowning, bowler hats and kazoos.

And that’s just a taster of what’s set to take place around the city as part of Bloomsday celebrations.

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