Dublin celebrates ’Bloomsday’

The Irish capital drifted back in time to retrace the steps that Leopold Bloom took 100 years earlier in Joyce’s epic novel.

The 700-page book charts the adventures of Bloom, a Jewish advertising salesman, and young poet Stephen Dedalus as they wandered the streets of Dublin on June 16, 1904.

Hundreds of Joyce fans turned out in Edwardian attire for a day of festivities, starting with a Bloom-style breakfast.

But Bloom’s preferred fried kidneys were accompanied not by tea, but by ample supplies of Dublin’s own Guinness beer.

“It’s as good an excuse as any to drink a pint of Guinness early in the morning,” said Bob King from Nebraska.

Other festivities included a “plum parade” to mark one of the most famous parts of Ulysses when two old women climbed Dublin’s Nelson column to spit plum stones down on the crowd below.

Excerpts from Ulysses were read aloud on the street, including lines of monologue from Bloom’s wife Molly, once deemed pornographic by well-heeled Dubliners.

Paul Harty, born in Dublin but now living in Britain, and impeccably attired in a dark striped jacket and boater hat, raved about his favourite author.

“Ulysses is like the mystery of life,” he said. “To me, it (Ulysses) is the ABC of life — absurdity, brevity, complexity.”

“Bloomsday 100” was launched on February 2 — Joyce’s birthday — and brings together around 80 events, from art exhibitions and symposiums, to concerts and stand-up comedy.

“Joyce’s genius was to communicate perfectly, particularly what it means to be a human being,” said Aine Larkin, a literature lecturer at Trinity College.

Published in Paris in 1922, Ulysses was denounced by the Irish as un-Christian filth, banned in Britain and burned by US censors.

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