James Joyce once said that the Dublin of the early 1900s could be reconstructed from the pages of his book Ulysses. It captures a fragment in time with delicate detail of a single day in the life of Dubliner Leopold Bloom, 16th June 1904. This is the day we now call Bloomsday, with events taking place all over the city in honour of Ireland’s literary genius, James Joyce.
Joe McCarthy told NewsFour about the events in Sandymount Green that are now in their fourth year. “This event was part of the village design statement when the Tidy Towns Committee was coming up with ideas that would get people involved with our initiative. You can see us here most evenings picking up litter and it has been very successful.” McCarthy described Ulysses as the most important book of the 20th Century. “It takes in all echelons of Dublin Society. Heavy reading at times but very funny and very racy indeed.”
If this racy aspect of Ulysses had eluded anyone previously, they were left in no doubt when Senator David Norris took to the stage to give his interpretation of a particularly naughty passage, which was set on Sandymount Strand of all places. The original text was guised in innuendo but Senator Norris was leaving nothing to the imagination and sending the audience into an uproar with his explicitly animated description of a certain “fireworks display”. Undoubtedly the most flamboyant of all Joycean Scholars, the former resident of Sandymount recounted with accuracy the ghosts of business that once surrounded the Green, naming Findlater’s, Frost’s shop, Mrs Murray and the Post Office among others.
The Senator was among a line-up of readers who brought the book to life through both their own writings and through acting out the parts of the characters in the book. Glynis Casson and Paddy Goodwire took us through an excerpt from The Dead, while Bríd Ní Grogán provided a beautiful rendition of the songs that were such an important element in Joyce’s works.
Many members of the audience were rounding off a Joycean morning which started with Rodney Devitt and breakfast in the Iris Charles Centre. “The numbers have increased this year to about 40, all in the appropriate Joycean dress. We kept the menu in line with the description in the book, even down to the kidneys.” Devitt told NewsFour, also adding there was plenty of champers with which to wash them down.
All of the happenings of the day brought the entire community together, helping to demystify the book, and the excellent acting skills of the readers succeeded in bringing the book to life. This annual event is must for anyone who was ever afraid of Ulysses.
By Maria Shields O’Kelly