Well, we said that it would be a very different Bloomsday this year – and so it was.
Sadly, our iconic tower remains closed due to Covid-19 but we could not let that dampen our celebration of this, the most significant date, in the Joycean calendar.
The day began with a small group of volunteers led by Friends of Joyce Tower Society Chairman, Séamus Cannon, gathering at the James Joyce Tower & Museum to mark the date by displaying the flag of ‘the sons of Desmond’ outside the shuttered museum. This (almost religious) ceremony took place at 8.00 am – the time when said pennant would normally be hoisted above the tower to signal the start of the Bloomsday celebrations.
It was at this time also, in ‘Ulysses’, that Stately Plump Buck Mulligan ascended the staircase to the top of the tower to have a shave. An action that would mark the opening of a work of outstanding importance that would resonate around the world of books forever and make this particular Martello tower a site of literary pilgrimage.
Some readings were read, some recitations recited and some songs sung by the small group who were joined by a pair of watchful Gardaí and by some innocent bystanders.
It was a far cry from the throngs who normally gather at the tower on Bloomsday to start the day as Mulligan and Stephen did in 1904.
It was, however, only right that our favourite author and the tower that he shared with Gogarty and Trench (and that inspired his masterpiece) should be visited on this special day.
Needless to add, social distancing was maintained at all times!
Later in the morning, FJT volunteers and friends gathered virtually in a Zoom meeting to share readings and songs in celebration of Bloomsday.
If you were unlucky and didn’t get access to the meeting (the maximum 100 attendees was reached fairly early on in the session), fear not!
The Bloomsday page of this website has been updated with a recording of the gathering. You can access it here:
We realise, of course, that a Virtual Bloomsday is no substitute for visiting the tower in the real world but we do hope that you have enjoyed our collection of recordings which we will leave up for a few months for your entertainment.
Hopefully, we will see you at the James Joyce Tower & Museum soon.
In the meanwhile…