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An Alternative Bloomsday in Dublin

By Visit DublinDublin's Official Tourism SiteBIO
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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.

An Alternative Bloomsday in Dublin

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…

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.

If you’re tired from walking the streets, get on your bike! Although not about Ulysses, the Wonderland Theatre group bring their Read Dubliners by Bike back to the streets of Dublin on Saturday 17th June in tribute to Joyce. This bike tour guides you through Joyce's Dublin while a recording of The Dubliners rings in your ears. You could also just hop on a bus or Dart and go visit the James Joyce Tower and Museum at Sandycove.

An Alternative Bloomsday in Dublin
An Alternative Bloomsday in 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. The much loved Balloonatics return and bring their brand of Ulysses to the streets of Dublin on Friday 16th June, starting on Eccles Street at 8am and taking a theatrical tour of the city before finishing in Wynn’s Hotel with the Humid Nightblue Fruit tribute session to Mr. Joyce.

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.

Enjoy some Joycean-inspired art at the There's a Touch of the Artist About Old Bloom exhibition and live sketching event at the Olivier Cornet Gallery until 25th June.


There will be plenty of Dublin events to mark Bloomsday. On the day itself (drumroll!), we highly recommend you let the hair down and head along to The Poetry Brothel special Bloomsday celebration and wrap party in the Liquor Rooms (16th June at 8pm). Celebrating the “Penelope” episode, the evening will include theatrics, spoken word performances and some burlesque dancing with poetry readings celebrating Joyce and his creations, Leopold and Molly Bloom.

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

Finally, if you fancy some pub-free fun this Bloomsday, well – you’ve come to the right place! Joyce himself mused in the pages of Ulysses that “a good puzzle would be to cross Dublin without passing a pub.” This challenge was happily accepted by a fellow Dubliner, computer science grad Rory McCann, who plotted a route across the city that doesn’t pass a single Dublin pub. Joyce would be proud!

An Alternative Bloomsday in Dublin