Bloomsday Official Participants on Stage

Celebrate Bloomsday with us

1 August 2022
Ulysses’ centenary comes alive on stage
The Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences and the Consulate General of Ireland celebrated the 100th anniversary of Bloomsday with the Irish cultural group ‘the Prankqueans’ on Thursday 16 June 2022, at the Seymour Centre’s Sound Lounge.

Bloomsday is a commemoration and celebration of the life of Irish writer James Joyce.

Today, Bloomsday celebrations encompass readings, performances, re-enactments and a host of other events that take place in Ireland and internationally. In Dublin, the Bloomsday Festival enlivens the city with live performances at places such as Davy Byrne’s pub and Sweny’s Chemist.
Lauren Weatherman (Communications and Events Officer, Consulate General of Ireland)

Observed around the world by literature lovers, it is the day, in 1904, when the fictitious Leopold Bloom, chief protagonist of Ulysses, ventured onto the streets of Dublin on his first outing with his wife-to-be.

Bringing culture, music, performance, and research together, the Prankqueans’ led production focused on the books’ lesser-known characters, many of them women, without whom Ulysses would never have come into being.

The Consulate General of Ireland has celebrated this annual event in various venues around Sydney over the years. In 2022, the University of Sydney and the Consulate General of Ireland collaborated to celebrate this special day for the second straight year. The majority of students and staff invited came from the fields of literature, Irish culture, and English disciplines within the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences. The event was also joined by Professor Lisa Adkins, Dean, Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, and Professor Rodney Smith, Interim Head, School of Social and Political Sciences.

Bloomsday Instrumental

Starting with ‘a taste of Bloom’s Day’ – smoked Irish cheddar and potato croquette, green pea dip; Boxty (Irish potato cake), smoked salmon, sour crème; corned beef sliders with cabbage slaw and Guinness mustard; porcini mushroom arancini with roasted garlic aioli; mini Shepherd’s pie; and, Baileys and chocolate pots with cream crackers – the event’s theme was to introduce Joyce to a new audience.

By celebrating Bloomsday in such an interactive, light-hearted way, it will open students’ minds to the novel, eradicating some of those pre-conceptions and encourage them to give the book a go. We are incredibly grateful to the University of Sydney for partnering with us once again to celebrate Bloomsday and providing us with this opportunity to showcase Joyce to a new generation of young Australians!

Consul General Rosie Keane, Consulate General of Ireland, greeted attendees with cead mile failte (a hundred thousand welcomes), followed by an Acknowledgement of Country by Professor Adkins.

After an instrumental piece, ‘Fanny Power’, author Gabrielle Carey explored how ‘Ulysses’ came into being and the women without whom it would not exist, before another instrumental, ‘Dublin in the Rare Ol Times’.

As the Prankqueans took us on an exploration of Joyce’s Edwardian Dublin, “a city of walkers and talkers”, of drinkers and debaters, of intellectuals and chances of various stripes, we found ourselves at Lunchtime in Davy Byrne’s, Lestrygonians, with Deputy Consul General Adrienne Hickey, Consulate General of Ireland, and selected students and staff from the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences participating in the audience reading.

Bloomsday Musical Piece

Instrumentals, ‘Lanigans Ball/Kesh’ and ‘Last Rose of Summer’, bookended museum registrar Julie McFarland’s explanation of the connection between Joyce, Ulysses, and Trieste, a city in northeast Italy.

After intermission, the audience listened to Joyce inspired poetry by Irish poet/writer, Anne Casey, before being encouraged to join in and embrace the spirit of Ulysses with a circe (group reading) of Nighttown Chapter, including ‘The Gong’, “Bang Bang Bla Bak Blud Bugg Bloo.” and, ‘The Soap’, “We’re a capital couple are Bloom and I. He brightens the earth. I polish the sky. (The freckled face of Sweny, the druggist, appears in the disc of the soapsun.)”.

Bloomsday Group Reading on Stage

The touching moment of the 2022 Bloomsday event came when sections of the audience sang along to ‘Love’s Old Sweet Song’.

The evening closed with the Prankqueans’ Creative Director, Aine De Paor (whose PhD thesis ‘Staging Ireland Down Under’ was completed at the University of Sydney’s Theatre and Performance Studies within the School of Art, Communication and English and which has recently passed examination), and her reading of ‘Molly’s most intimate carnal musings’, a celebration of the physical body, in all its activities, the ordinary, the fleeting moment, the vast blooming, confused pain and the pleasures of one single day, and perhaps a glimpse into just why the novel was twice banned in Australia.

With Ulysses, the text was so forward thinking for its time that it continues to resonate in the present, with some aspects still too risqué for certain audiences! Its themes of belonging, love, identity and religion are as relevant today as they were when the text was published in 1922.

The collaboration with the Consulate General of Ireland enables our students and researchers to learn and appreciate the Irish literature and culture beyond the university and engage with the community. In addition to the University’s undergraduate student exchange with Trinity College Dublin, the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences hopes to continue working with our partners and collaborating organisations both locally and internationally.

The Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences' and Consulate General of Ireland's Bloomsday celebration is just one of the international collaborations supported by Strategic Partnerships and Engagement at the University of Sydney. To collaborate with us, submit a partnership enquiry to discuss how we can work together.

Banner image and photos courtesy of the Consulate General of Ireland.

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