Bloomsday – The History and Tradition

Bloomsday celebrates the day on which the action of James Joyce’s novel Ulysses takes place, 16 June 1904, the day on which (we believe) Joyce first went out with his future wife, Nora Barnacle. The day is named after Leopold Bloom, the central character in Ulysses. The novel follows the life and thoughts of Leopold Bloom and a host of other characters – real and fictional – from 8am on 16 June through to the early hours of the following morning.

One of the earliest Bloomsday celebrations was a Ulysses lunch, organised by Sylvia Beach, publisher of Ulysses, and her partner Adrienne Monnier in France in June 1929. The first Bloomsday celebrated in Ireland was in 1954, the fiftieth anniversary of the first Bloomsday when the writers Patrick Kavanagh and Flann O’Brien visited locations like the Martello Tower at Sandycove, Davy Byrne’s pub, and 7 Eccles Street, reading parts of Ulysses and drinking a great deal as they went!

Today, Bloomsday is celebrated by Joyceans across the globe with readings, performances, re-enactments, and a host of other events. In Dublin, enthusiasts dress in Edwardian costume and gather during the day at many of the locations where episodes ofUlysses take place. The James Joyce Centre hosts Bloomsday breakfasts (including kidney, which Mr Bloom eats for breakfast in the novel) and other events in the run up to June 16 as well as on the day.