Guest Blog: Bloomsday Survival Kit – At It Again!

Each month At it Again! who created “Romping through Dublin – Ulysses the Manual” provide an insight into the motivation and method behind their work. This month they reflect on…. Bloomsday Highlights!

Here at At it Again! Headquarters in Dublin, we’re enjoying the memories of this year’s Bloomsday celebrations in Dublin. It’s a unique festival. People from all over the world congregate to walk the streets that James Joyce walked, and Leopold Bloom didn’t! All over the city, you catch glimpses of people celebrating Ulysses.

Perhaps it’s just someone walking along the street with a copy of the big book under their arm. It might be people dressed up in Edwardian clothes, or doing their finest impersonation of James Joyce. We heard that Joyce himself dressed up for the day – or at least his statue on Earl Street North did! We took great pleasure in becoming sandwich board men for one afternoon, striding through Dublin’s Streets proudly declaring H E L Y ‘S. We were one man short, but found plenty of people to help us out and take on the all important role of being ‘S.

We were inspired by the opening of the Lee Miller photography exhibition at the James Joyce Centre. It’s magic to find photographs of Joycean locations that have not been seen before. Great reference material for us too. We’ll be visiting a few times, as the exhibition runs until December. Everyone’s got their own views and ideas about Joyce and his writings. Sure, didn’t he want us all to devote our whole lives to reading his works? It was interesting to hear Will Self, John Banville and Carlo Gebler talking in a relaxed environment about how they relate to Joyce. They didn’t really agree about anything, but were polite about it.

We took a pilgrimage to Rathgar, the Dublin village where Joyce was born, and were made to feel heartily welcome. While enjoying damn good cakes, gorgonzola sandwiches and delicate glasses or burgundy, people picked out their favourites bits from Ulysses and read them out – a shout on the street!

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During the feeding of the Seagulls on Bachelor’s Walk on Bloomsday itself, our paths crossed with Dave, a Dubliner doing his own Ulysses Challenge. He was attempting to visit as many locations as possible, following the paths of Bloom and Stephen Dedalus throughout the day. When we met him, he still had damp hair from an early morning dip in the Forty Foot bathing place.

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On Bloomsday night things turned surreal. Hosted by Phil T Gorgeous, a well-known MC on the cabaret and burlesque circuit in Dublin, we enjoyed an interactive screening of the 1967 black and white film version of Ulysses. Joyce himself loved film, and the screening reflected the atmosphere of the ‘Circe’ episode of Ulysses, which is jam packed with the weird and wonderful. It was a naughty evening of midsummer madness!


We’d love to hear what your Bloomsday highlights were.  @AtitAgainDublin