Happy Bloomsday 2008

June 16th of each year brings the worldwide celebration of James Joyce’s novel, Ulysses: Bloomsday. Many Joycean scholars make a pilgrimage to Dublin on this date, because the entirety of Ulysses occurs on one day, 16 June 1904. Joyce’s friends used the word “Bloomsday” when Joyce was alive!

The novel is set in Dublin, and fans of Joyce sometimes retrace the steps of its main character, Leopold Bloom, on Bloomsday. After all, Joyce himself said:

I want to give a picture of Dublin so complete that if the city one day suddenly disappeared from the earth it could be reconstructed out of my book.

Today was a gloriously sunny day for doing that. (If it’s a nice day where you are, consider your own Bloomsday walk.) It was also a good day for the public events commemorating Ulysses.


I attended part of a series of readings of Ulysses in the Meetinghouse Square of Temple Bar. The readings were wonderful, the sun was warm, and the atmosphere of the crowd was enchanting. I listened to a sequence of ambassadors from other nations all over the world, some reading in their native tongues.


I was inspired to start reading Ulysses where I’d left off this winter. It’s a difficult novel in every way, but always rewarding. On the way home across Stephen’s Green, I saw two things that kept me in a Joycean frame of mind. First, a surprisingly lonely bust of Joyce on the southern side of the Green.


Then, two businessmen talking on their mobiles. Surely one of the many besuited people in my neighbourhood is a Leopold Bloom in 2008?


Happy Bloomsday, friends!