How it’s New York: Bloomsday has become a big deal in NYC, with events all over the place.
How it’s Irish: The day celebrates the day when “Ulysses” by James Joyce takes place. The protagonist of the novel is Leopold Bloom.
Bloomsday used to be a quiet-ish, literary-ish kind of event. But no more. For a while now, it’s been a kind of June St. Patrick’s Day, a day to celebrate Irishness while celebrating one of Ireland’s greatest exports: its literature.
New York City offers many Bloomsday celebrations. I missed the first one this morning, because I live in New Jersey and it began at 7:30 a.m., but at Bloom’s Tavern Origin Theatre’s George Heslin organized a Bloomsday breakfast. Sounds like it was a treat!
From 2 p.m. on– with folks arriving at 11– Ulysses Folk House has readings from “Ulysses,” some by wonderful actors such as Aedin Moloney, some from the public who bring their own books. With tables in the alley and a gorgeous sunny day, free drinks at happy hour and again later when the bands play, you don’t want to miss it. (If you go to their site, I’m actually in one of the pictures– at least my hands are– in the one with Ashley Davis singing at center, someone in a red shirt in the lower right hand corner is holding up a camera. That’s me!)
Then at 7 p.m., it’s Bloomsday on Broadway XXXIII: an annual Symphony Space event, co-presented by Irish Arts Center, this year centers around the short story collection “Dubliners” on its 100th anniversary. Readings from Cynthis Nixon, Malachy McCourt, Colum McCann and more.
It promises to be a grand day!I wrote a piece for WSJ Speakeasy a few years ago that gives a bit more of the history of Bloomsday, looking at how it’s celebrated around the world too. I wrote:
Bloomsday celebrations take place all over the world, including, according to the James Joyce Center, Croatia, Australia, Shanghai, Norway and Argentina. And Dublin, of course.
What is it about Joyce’s novel about a day in the life of a fictional Jewish denizen of Dublin, Leopold Bloom, that has inspired an international literary event cum pub crawl cum Halloween parade ?
“It’s a celebration of life, love, language, literature—everything’s in this book,” says Isaiah Sheffer, Founding Artistic Director of Symphony Space and MC of the marathon day, which is presented with the Irish Arts Center . “I remember when I was in college identifying with Stephen Daedalus, a thoughtful, studious, little depressed fellow.” Readers include Kathleen Chalfant, Denis O’Hare, Marin Ireland.
Read the rest of it here.