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Top 10 Reasons to Celebrate Bloomsday in Dublin, Ireland
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It gives you the chance to bone up on Ireland’s most famous writer.
If you’ve never heard of James Joyce or don’t know much about Irish literature, Bloomsday is a fun crash-course in both. You’ll get to find out about Ireland’s most famous banned book and its author through performances, dressing up and eating strange meals. Plus, you will be able to legitimately say you learned something.
You’ll be able to step back in time.
Bloomsday itself celebrates the 16th June, 1904 which is the day depicted in James Joyce’s novel Ulysses. Common celebrations include dressing like an Edwardian, eating things like kidneys for breakfast (a more common occurrence at the turn of the last century) and traipsing around some of Dublin’s oldest and most revered buildings.
It’s more than 50 years old.
The Bloomsday Festival has been celebrated in some form since as early as 1924, but the first official Bloomsday took place in 1954 in Dublin. Famous Irish authors like Patrick Kavanagh and Flann O’Brien decided to recreate the journey of Leopold Bloom – the festival’s namesake – by going on a pub crawl around Dublin. They never finished their tour because they’d managed to imbibe a few too many pints, but we don’t begrudge them it.
It’s much more than just a book.
Because Bloomsday has been around so long it’s become a community celebration, with events taking place in both the city centre and its suburbs. In the city, you’ll find the residents of North Great George’s Street throwing a street party in its honour, while in Sandycove you’ll see dedicated Bloomsday celebrants eating their breakfast at Caviston’s.
No one will think you look silly in a boater hat.
As we’ve mentioned, dressing up is absolutely encouraged for the Bloomsday Festival and everything from boater and bowler hats to full petticoats and parasols are the name of the game. It’s easy to spot another getting into the Bloomsday spirit and it’s one of the aspects of the celebration that makes it so fun. Visit your local vintage shop or get onto your granny for some good ideas!
Get acquainted with the capital city.
Bloomsday, and Ulysses, are a celebration of Dublin. Joyce once said that he wanted to create a picture of Dublin so detailed that it could be recreated from his book if it were ever destroyed. If you want to get a real sense of the city, its history and its inhabitants this festival is a great way to introduce yourself to Ireland’s biggest city.
Get to grips with Ulysses by watching it live.
A lot of literature students and lit-novices alike have struggled with Ulysses ever since it was published, but if you’ve found yourself with the weighty tome gathering dust on your shelf celebrating Bloomsday is a great way to dust off the cobwebs. The festival includes lots of live performances and readings from the book, with performers often dressed in character and acting out pieces in the places they were meant to be staged. It goes a long way to helping you figure out what Joyce was on about.
It’s a great way to meet local Dubliners.
Bloomsday has been celebrated across the city by local people since its inception, and local Dubliners still make up more than half of those enjoying Bloomsday in the city. If you want your trip to Ireland to feel like an authentic experience with the locals then Bloomsday is the right choice for you.
Try out some unusual cuisine.
Having a snack in Dublin of 1904 was a very different experience to grabbing a Starbucks in 2015. For the few days of the Bloomsday Festival many of the venues mentioned in Ulysses – plus plenty that aren’t – will serve food and drink from the era. Nip into Davy Byrne’s pub, where Bloom enjoys a glass of Burgundy and a gorgonzola sandwich to get into the swing of things.
Meet your future Molly Bloom.
All these activities help to bring people together who may not have met each other through other walks of life. We’ve seen a few people get lucky after meeting over a Bloomsday breakfast or complimenting each other’s moustaches at our Bloomsday readings. You might end up finding Joyce to be a powerful aphrodisiac.
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