This extraordinary footage was shot in 1954, when a group of friends and well known, Irish literary figures set out on a mission to follow in the footsteps of Leopold Bloom, the hero of James Joyce’s Ulysses, set in June 16, 1904, in Dublin.
Among these well oiled literary pilgrims are Flann O’Brien, Patrick Kavanagh, Anthony Cronin, Tom Joyce, a dentist and relative of James Joyce and Dublin publican, John Ryan. They hired a couple of carriages to transport them for the day and, although things began well at Joyce’s Martello Tower in Sandycove, on the south side of Dublin bay, they went downhill, rapidly.
There were frequent stops for refreshment and relief, before the party pulled up in front of John Ryan’s bar, The Bailey on Duke St and there, the night ended. That day’s excursion, even though there’s mention of Bloomsday in Joyce’s own correspondence from as early as 1922, marked the beginning of a tradition that has continued, with varying levels of conviction and involvement, to the present day.
Now Bloomsday is celebrated, the world over. In Dublin, Bloomsday celebrations began five days ago, on June 11. The final day, today, began with Bloomsday breakfasts, served in venues throughout the city, Bloomsday cocktails, served in some bars and a colourful parade of people, throughout the city, dressed in period costume, sporting well thumbed copies of Joyce’s most famous work, tucked, firmly and discretely, under their oxters.