Countdown to Bloomsday

June 11th, 2005 | by Andrew Ó Baoill |

Next Thursday is Bloomsday and the first time since 1990 that I won’t be marking the occasion, in some fashion, in either Dublin or Galway. Back in 1990 my father brought me to Dublin on the day after I finished my Inter Cert and I’ve continued to celebrate the day, in low key fashion, since then. Some years I attended public readings outside the Nora Barnacle house in Galway, other years I’ve just made a point of spending time with family members, reading some Joyce and otherwise celebrating the book through the enactment of the ordinary. Last year, for instance, I was home and visited family with my father. All very ordinary, but so much of Ulysses is bound up in identity, father-son relationships and revelling in the epic nature of everyday life that it seems, to me, to be appropriate.

This year, I’m in Urbana, and for some reason this pending non-holiday is weighing heavily on me. I’m told that Mike’n’Molly’s is the centre of Bloomsday celebrations here in town, so there is somewhere to go should I choose – though so often in the past I’ve avoided formal celebrations and chosen instead to, as Kavanagh put it, “wallow in the habitual, the banal” – but for some reason I miss being in Ireland for this day.

Perhaps it’s because Bloomsday is, for me, caught up in the reality of Ireland as a place and an experience in a way that the Paddywackery of St Patrick’s Day never has been. Perhaps it’s the subtle links with family that I’ve established, internally, for this day.

Either way I’ll still be celebrating what I recently described – as an agnostic – my ‘high holiday’ somewhere. And since it’s also pay day – and as a Fellow I still get paid in the summer – there’s even another reason to celebrate!

  1. One Response to “Countdown to Bloomsday”

  2. By gehrig on Jun 12, 2005 | Reply

    Andrew, special deal for you. This year we aren’t going to do anything formal at M&M, because we’re still burnt toast from the centennial. No big Bloomsday this time, we’re in Bloomsday recovery. Nevertheless, we’ll be getting together in the evening for a pint (“a” in the broadest sense) eightish at the latest.

    And as the man puts it: “The school kip? Lend us one.”


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