Bloomsday 2018 at the James Joyce Tower & Museum was, without a shadow of doubt, an enormous success.
There are many things that contributed to this success; the record breaking visitor numbers (1,270 on Bloomsday alone!), the superb programme of free events, the talents of the various actors, musicians and readers, the wonderful weather – I could go on.
At the heart of any of our achievements at the tower, however, is our wonderful band of FJT volunteers and Bloomsday 2018 was no exception. It was the volunteers who, throughout the week, brought a very special atmosphere to the proceedings by entering into the spirit of the festival. Not only did they provide their (now legendary) warm welcome and informative chat, they also added that bit extra to mark this, our biggest event, by dressing up in ‘joycean’ costume for the week.
In the lead up to Bloomsday, attics were raided, charity shops scoured and wardrobes ransacked in order to put together the ‘perfect’ outfit.
This is, of course, done purely to make a tower visit at this time all the more special for our visitors but there is another reason for the FJT volunteers to dress up.
This other reason is that, each year since 2016, committee member and Friday Coordinator, Gráinne O’Malley, has organised an FJT ‘Best Dressed Volunteer Award’ competition and bestows huge prizes upon those volunteers deemed to have donned the best and most authentic costumes during the week.
Every year, these highly coveted (and enormously valuable) prizes see our volunteers pitted against one another as they strive to demonstrate their ability to capture the very essence of joycean haute couture.
The winners of the FJT ‘Best Dressed Volunteer Award’ for this year (some pictured here in their normal attire) were announced at an FJT Summer Event held in Declan and Lua McIlraith’s home which they have allowed us to use as a venue for our post Bloomsday review for the last 5 years or so . Thank you Declan and Lua for the use of your wonderful home, again, this year.
In typical non-PC fashion, the awards were divided into best dressed Male and best dressed Female categories.
The judges were: Gráinne O’Malley, Rob Goodbody and Helen Colgan with technical support (?) provided by Pat Crowley.
And here they are – the winners of the ‘Best Dressed Volunteer Awards 2018’:
Best Dressed (Female) 1st Place, Byna Twomey, 2nd Place, Margaret Niall, 3rd Place, Trish Caren
Best Dressed (Male) 1st Place, Kieran McBride, 2nd Place, Conor O’Toole, 3rd Place, Sam Astorga
Well done to all the winners.
Ah, who am I kidding? – it is all about the winners and their stupid outfits!
Then there are the losers.
Yes, there are always the losers and, for us, there is the pretend magnanimity and faked pleasure as we congratulate the winners. There is the bitter and twisted feeling that perhaps it was favouritism or even Russian interference that, yet again, denied us our just reward.
Still, there is always next year. A bigger effort. A more expensive straw boater. A finer Blazer. A bigger bribe…
Yes, there is always next year.
Here are our prizewinners, Kieran and Byna in all their Bloomsday finery: