By Mary Maguire
BLOOMSDAY - is a literary celebration in Dublin, Ireland. Although it lasts for a week, the main day of events is June 16th. One of Ireland’s very own authors JAMES JOYCE and his famous novel ULYSSES is honored every year on this day, as it was on this date in 1904 that he met his beloved Nora Barnacle. He subsequently used this date to set Ulysses.
You don’t have to travel to Ireland to join in on the fun; Bloomsday is held worldwide. San Francisco has numerous events listed for this year, the 10th Annual Bloomsday Celebration.
James Joyce (1882-1941) was born in Dublin. He was the eldest of ten children in a poor Catholic family. Nonetheless, he received a good education and this gave him good grounding in theology and the classical languages, which later influenced his works. It was not long before he showed signs of being a literary genius. He graduated from UCD (University College Dublin) in 1903 and immediately left for Paris.
Ulysses consists of 18 chapters and took about 7 years to write. The book shocked and divided the literary world. In a wonderful variety of styles, he covers the whole day of Leopold Bloom, his wife Molly Bloom, Stephen Dedalus and other citizens from about 8am on this day to around 2am the next morning.
It was finally published in Paris in 1922, as it ran into censorship problems in the United Kingdom and in the United States. It was not until 1933 that it was finally published in the United States.
As Joyce got older, he gradually became blind but with the help of friends, including Samuel Beckett, he produced his final great work FINNEGANS WAKE, which was published in 1939.
Did you know that James Joyce based FINNEGANS WAKE on the very popular Dublin Ballad of the same name? With one exception- Joyce did not use the apostrophe as in Finnegan’s. By leaving out the apostrophe, Joyce was suggesting that all members of humanity fall before waking and rising. In the ballad, Tim Finnegan, born “with a love for the liquor,” falls from a ladder and is thought to be dead. The mourners at his wake become rowdy, and spill whiskey over Finnegan's corpse, causing him to come back to life and join in in the celebrations.
A quotation from James Joyce’s Finnegans Wake: "…riverrun, past Eve and Adam’s, from swerve of shore to bend of bay, brings us by a circuitous vicus of recirculation back to Howth Castle and Environs"
Visit to find out more. Maybe you will plan a trip to Dublin for next year’s celebrations; you will then have time to read the book first if you have not done so already!