Bloom Wanders Below the Radar

Bloomsday 1992 N4

In the wake of the Gathering 2013, and in the aftermath of last year’s deluge of activity post-emancipation from copyright, Bloomsday (June 16th) has been approaching with little fanfare this year.

Nonetheless, this international celebration of James Joyce’s great modernist novel Ulysses has a special role within the annual social calendar of the city. NewsFour went in search of news concerning Bloomsday around Sandymount Green and environs.

Announcements seemed to be released slowly this year, so we contacted Mark Traynor, Director of the James Joyce Centre, to ask if there had been any promotional delay in this year’s events. The answer was a surprise. “Actually, the programme last year was even later. Normally, we aim for around mid-May as there is a lot to co-ordinate, but 2012 was a particular case as it marked the first Bloomsday where all of Joyce’s works had entered the public domain.”

This year, events will be just as elaborate it seems. The Joyce Centre is planning to collaborate with 25 other groups around the world to co-ordinate a global reading from Ulysses, beginning on the late evening of June 15th in Dublin (a few hours before Bloomsday proper, for reasons of time-zones) and continuing all day of the 16th.

Closer to Dublin 4, on Pearse St, the St Andrew’s Resource Centre is throwing its annual Bloomsday Breakfast, on the morning of Friday June 14th. Betty Ashe, of the Dockland Business Forum Steerage Committee, told us that the breakfast is invite-only as usual and guests will be notified soon. She also added that this year’s breakfast is a notable one as it marks the 40th anniversary of the establishment of the Westland Row/City Quay Social Services Council.

Enquiries around the Sandymount area provoked frequent reminisces of last year’s event, which centred around the village green. Sandymount local and Joycean Rodney Devitt and local FG Councillor Paddy McCartan were both enthusiastic in their praise. Devitt personally led a walking tour along Sandymount Strand, performing or reading relevant sections from Ulysses particularly the infamous excerpt of Stephen Daedalus, “walking into eternity along Sandymount Strand.”

Cllr McCartan emphasised the scale of the 2012 Sandymount event, lasting from 9am until mid-afternoon, and centering around Sandymount Green. He felt it was a particularly successful event compared to events in nearby districts such as Donnybrook which were enjoyed by those who were present but were said to be under-attended.

Mr Devitt indicated that the Sandymount Bloomsday event had undergone a rebirth in recent years, spearheaded by the efforts of Joe and Valerie McCarthy of the Sandymount Tidy Towns Committee and the Sandymount Village Design Statement.

Joe and Valerie are once again co-ordinating plans for the 2013 celebration. The 16th this year falls on a Sunday. “Sunday can be a difficult day to convince people to come out on,” Joe explained, “and I understand some groups around the city are considering moving their celebrations to the 15th or the 14th to compensate. But that seems to be against the spirit of the thing for me. The fact is, the day falls on a Sunday, so do it all on the Sunday.”

“The plan for this year is to begin at 11.30am on Sandymount Green and continue until 1.00 or 2.00pm with a similar programme to last year. We have a jazz band, Aidan Murphy and other fine local players, and local performers like Jim and Breda Carroll, Glynis Casson and Anne Gleeson will be performing and reading from Ulysses, Dubliners and Finnegan’s Wake. We do it for ourselves,” Rodney concludes, “and for our community and for whoever wants to join us.”

Above: Bloomsday on Sandymount Green, 1992.

By Ruairi Conneely