Insider Tips

8 Ways to Celebrate Bloomsday 2020

By Visit Dublin

11th June 2020

One of Ireland’s most famous writers, James Joyce once joked you could rebuild Dublin just by reading his novel Ulysses. If you haven’t yet gotten around to its 730 pages (with a staggering 30,000 distinct words), you can still celebrate Bloomsday this year on 16th June, the day when Ulysses’ Leopold Bloom ambles through Dublin from Sandycove all the way to the Northside.

The Bloomsday Festival has moved online because of social distancing but thanks to a stellar list of events, you can celebrate from your couch. To borrow Joyce’s famous quote, “life is the great teacher” – and 2020 is a year to remember. Expect a unique kind of celebration before the event returns in full bloom next year: featuring online exhibitions, virtual readings, and a walk around Dublin’s fair city. Discover eight different ways to celebrate one of our most famous scribes...

1. Enjoy a virtual event

Ulysses opens in a surprisingly conventional manner with “stately, plump Buck Mulligan” having a morning shave. The first chapter takes place at the Martello Tower in Sandycove, Dublin at 8am on June 16, 1904: and so it is only fitting that a dedicated Ulysses 2020 event takes place in this very setting.
 
On June 16, tune in to the Tower Bloomsday Readings at 11am, and hear selections from the iconic book read live from the James Joyce Tower and Museum in Sandycove. Admire the Edwardian costumes and views of the south Dublin coast via video link.
 

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2. Learn from the experts

Listen to Joycean experts share their views on the James Joyce Centre's YouTube channel. Enjoy an introduction to each chapter of the iconic Ulysses and see what other likeminded fans have to say – the perfect way to prepare for Bloomsday celebrations.
 
Get a feel for Joyce’s unique writing style and discover the flamboyant characters from the renowned novel.

3. Watch a short film

Check out a colourful collection of James Joyce films online; choose from thrilling live action shorts, clever animations, old-school newsreels, and informative documentaries. Dig deep into the life of this Irish literary legend, from Joyce’s first meeting with his beloved Nora Barnacle to tales from his childhood in Dublin.
 
Watch the films for free on the IFI Player from June 12 – this incredible offering is the work of the Irish Film Institute, together with Bloomsday Festival.

4. Discover a new audio recording

Counterparts tells the reader of a character named Farrington, and how his day at the office turns sour after an argument with his boss. Joyce’s unique talent for making the ordinary extraordinary is clear in this short story which featured in his 1914 collection, Dubliners, he does the same with Leopold Bloom’s routine day in Ulysses.
 
For Bloomsday 2020, enjoy this fantastic audio recording of Counterparts by actor Jim Roche with original music from Denis Clohessy.
 

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5. View an online art exhibition

Don’t miss the online art exhibitions dedicated to Joyce – check out the incredible Shut Your Eyes and See from David Nowlan. ‘Shut your eyes and see’ is a famous line from Ulysses, coming from stubborn schoolteacher Stephen Dedalus.
 
See Nowlan’s creativity bring this concept to life, and marvel at his talent for introducing colour into Joyce’s early twentieth century black and white portraits.

6. Retrace Leopold Bloom’s steps

If you live in Dublin, you can now take a walk to some of the famous places mentioned in Ulysses, while adhering to social distancing and government guidelines, of course. Drop by Sweny’s Pharmacy on Lincoln Place where Leopold purchased a bar of lemon soap, and stroll along Prince’s Street, part of his daily commute.
 
Take a trip out to stunning Sandymount Strand to end your tour of Dublin, this is the scenic setting for episodes three and thirteen, Proteus and Nausicaa.


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7. Tune in for a social distancing webinar

Set a reminder for the Ulysses, Pandemic and Social Distancing webinar and watch as Joyce experts discuss what Ulysses can say about the Covid-19 pandemic. Coronavirus is having a universal impact, affecting everyone the world over; and of course, Ulysses has a universal appeal as Leopold Bloom is the “everyman”.

Settle in for an intriguing discussion as four leading scholars share their personal views: tune in to the Ulysses, Pandemic and Social Distancing webinar at 5pm on June 16.
 

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8. Check out a dedicated podcast

Brush up on your Ulysses knowledge ahead of Bloomsday and get familiar with the Blooms & Barnacles podcast. It discusses all things Joyce but in a non-academic manner, the perfect place to start if you want to learn more about the iconic Irish literary figure.

Though usually June 16th sees historic Dublin sites associated with James Joyce busy with people celebrating, this year enjoy a gorgonzola sandwich with a glass of wine (just like Leopold Bloom) as you uniquely experience the magic of James Joyce from your living room.

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