There is Nothing Like Bloomsday in Dublin

This year we celebrated Bloomsday in Dublin, and it was wondrous and oh so much fun. We began our day early in the morning at an 8:00 breakfast and performances of snippets of episodes from Ulysses at the James Joyce Centre. The actors were in rare form, and the forty of us in the room were simply enthralled with delight by the meanderings and shenanigans of Molly, Poldy and Stephen. Even the serious-faced Lord Mayor of Dublin, sitting at an adjacent table, occasionally broke out with a smile and a laugh.

Immediately after leaving the Joyce Centre, we caught a train to the town of Sandycove, a suburb of Dublin which is the home to the Martello Tower that is featured in Chapter 1 of Ulysses. Now the tower serves as a Ulysses-themed museum year-round, with readings from the book scheduled on its deck for most of Bloomsday.
We tortuously climbed the narrow and winding stairs of the tower, finally reaching the deck. The volunteer in charge and I began a conversation. He told me that the scheduled readers had taken a lunch break. I mentioned to him that I taught Ulysses back in Chicago and that I was thrilled to be in Dublin today experiencing Bloomsday. Since there were about a dozen visitors milling around the deck, he suggested that I do an impromptu reading during this interlude. How could I say no?

The volunteer lent me his copy of the book and directed me towards the raised platform in the middle of the deck. There I stood, atop the tower overlooking the bay, as I began reading Chapter I with the words “Stately, plump Buck Mulligan came from the stairhead, bearing a bowl of lather on which a mirror and a razor lay crossed.” I continued reading through the third page of the book. These were truly magical moments for me, as I read the words of Joyce from the very space where the great writer once stood himself over a century ago.

Returning to Dublin City Centre, we capped off our Bloomsday evening by attending Dermot Bolger’s splendid cabaret performance of Ulysses staged at the historic Abbey Theatre. The staging was spartan-consisting of a bar, a few chairs and a bed. Puppetry was cleverly interwoven into a good number of scenes, enhancing the surreality of much of the text.

The play ended, and so did our memorable Bloomsday 2018. Dear memories to be cherished forever.

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Celebrate Bloomsday 2017 at the Euro Echo Cafe

We will be celebrating Bloomsday on the evening of Friday, June 16, from 6:30 to 8:00 at the Euro Echo Cafe in Skokie, located at 7919 Lincoln Avenue. A number of us will be reading some of our favorite passages from Ulysses, and we encourage others to read with us. There will be a display of Ulysses-related art by Leonid Osseny. Euro Echo Cafe is a comfortable and cozy place with a nice selection of sandwiches, salads and desserts. It is located across the street from the Skokie Theater. Please confirm your attendance and let me know if you would like to read by contacting me at richardreeder34@gmail.com.

Bloomsday 2014

It’s almost June 16th. Bloomsday. I enthusiastically celebrate this day commemorating my Jewish brother (well, sort-of), Leopold Bloom, as he travels and travails through Dublin and its environs on June 16, 1904. Bloom’s odyssey is chronicled in James Joyce’s Ulysses, arguably the greatest book ever written in the English language.

I, like so many countless others, endlessly struggled to read the book. I tried three times before I enrolled in Steve Diedrich’s Ulysses class at the Newberry, and soon the genius of Joyce slowly, but very truly, began to reveal itself in the fantastic dialogue and narrative. Only ten sessions with Steve ( a non-academic who worked by day as an insurance actuary) and words became images, the literary mystery unfolded into sense and sensibility, and the book’s marvelous cast of characters leaped forward out of Joyce’s unbridled imagination and into my mind and soul.

 I took Steve’s class in 2007. Sadly he died of cancer three years later. Not only had he taught the Ulysses class at the Newberry for twenty plus years, but he also organized a Bloomsday celebration each year at the Cliff Dwellers.

Steve transformed me into that small circle of literati who are proud to be called “Joyce enthusiasts.” I celebrated my first Bloomsday at the Cliff Dwellers in 2008 watching Steve orchestrating a marvelous selection of readings from the text. The next year, my wife Anne (another one of Steve’s students) and I traveled to Dublin as pilgrims on our own Joycean hajj. We remain regulars at the Cliff Dwellers annual Bloomsday.

This year, once again, my friend and the illustrator of my book, the incomparable Leonid Osseny, enhances the Cliff Dwellers Bloomsday festivities by exhibiting some of his Ulysses sketches on easels. He has an illustration for each chapter of the book. Leonid’s exhibit of “Chicago Bridges,” by happenstance, also is on display at the Cliff Dwellers.

Hope to see you at the Cliff Dwellers this Bloomsday where Molly Bloom always gets the final word to say. Yes!              

 

   

  

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Bloomsday at the Cliff Dwellers

Celebrate Bloomsday, a few days early, at the historic Cliff Dwellers Club in Chicago on Thursday evening, June 13. In true Dubliner fashion, people will gather for drinks at 5:30 p.m.. The program of readings from James Joyce’s Ulysses commences at 6:15 p.m. At the conclusion of the readings, at about 8:15 p.m., the Joycean revelers will proceed for food and other merriment to conclude the evening. It’s a way to bask in the brilliance of the words of perhaps the most significant novel ever written in the English language. As Edna O’Brien states “Joyce did something extraordinary: he threw out the entire history of English literature —language, story, structure, everything—and created a new and stupendous work.”

This year’s Bloomsday at the Cliff Dwellers has an added enhancement. Internationally acclaimed artist, Leonid Osseny, will showcase the illustrations that he has done on each chapter of Ulysses. These were the same pieces that were exhibited at the Joyce Center in Dublin during the Bloomsday Centennial  in 2004.

So join Leopold, Molly, Buck, the Croppy Boy and others as we ring in Bloomsday 2013 at the Cliff Dwellers! For additional information check out http://www.cliff-chicago.org.

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