On 16 June 1904 Stephen Dedalus and Leopold Bloom, two characters in James Joyce’s Ulysses, set out on their epic journey through the streets of Dublin. Today also happens to be the 100th anniversary of Nora Barnacle and James’ first date, and let’s just say Nora wasn’t the good little Catholic girl that evening down by Dublin Bay. And if it wasn’t for Nora we probably wouldn’t even have this behemoth of a book, as she was the one who fished it out of the fireplace after one of James’ typical tantrums.
Your man wasn’t celebrated until after his death and slowly over the years Bloomsday turned into a tribute to Joyce. A few years ago I was in Dublin on Bloomsday. There were groups in Joycean dress following the path Bloom took that day. And I even tried to grab a glass of burgundy and a gorgonzola sandwich at Davey Byrne’s just off Grafton, but alas they had already drank the pub dry and strewn across the tables were the skeletons of eaten sandwich crusts. So I headed over to the James Joyce Room at Bewley’s instead. With the throngs of people at the 100th anniversary this year, I’m sure there are more than a few gorgonzola sandwiches lining Grafton Street.
And if burgundy or gorgonzola sandwiches aren’t for you, well then grab a pint of the black stuff, some bangers and mash, curl with a copy of Ulysses and try to make a dent in its 933 pages. Or may I suggest the film about Mrs. Joyce, Nora.