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Bloomsday 2023: Date, History, Facts, Activities

Joyce wrote a letter to Miss Weaver in 1924, in which he refers to "a group of people who observed what they call Bloom's Day on June 16." This is the first known mention of a Bloomsday celebration.

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On Bloomsday, June 16, we take a moment to honour and celebrate all that we’ve gained from the works of Irish author James Joyce in recognition of his life and legend. The significance of June 16 is derived from James Joyce’s 1922 novel “Ulysses,” which chronicles a day in the life of the protagonist (Leopold Bloom) on June 16, 1904. Joyce also had his first engagement with his future wife Nora Barnacle on this date. National Bloomsday celebrates these two dates annually on June 16 regardless. The story of Leopold Bloom is widely regarded as one of the most significant works of modernist literature and a driving force behind the entire movement. To honour a man who eternally altered literature, people in Ireland and around the world celebrate today with festivals, readings, dramatisations, pub crawls, and more.

The background of Bloomsday

Joyce wrote a letter to Miss Weaver in 1924, in which he refers to “a group of people who observed what they call Bloom’s Day on June 16.” This is the first known mention of a Bloomsday celebration. The story was first published serially in the American journal “The Little Review,” where the events of “Ulysses” tend to parallel those of Homer’s epic “The Odyssey.” In contrast to Odysseus’ 10-year journey home to Penelope in “The Odyssey,” Leopold Bloom’s story focuses on his efforts to avoid returning to his wife. Although there are no mythical gods, goddesses, or sirens in the story, it does depict an average man coping with daily life in a manner that can be described as grotesque realism. On the one hand, “Ulysses” has been called “the most significant landmark in modernist literature,” a work that depicts the complexities of life with “unprecedented, and unrivalled, linguistic and stylistic virtuosity”; on the other hand, “a heap of dung, crawling with worms, photographed by a cinema camera through a microscope” was Virginia Woolf’s description. It has been reinterpreted in a variety of ways across the globe and is still referred to as a literary classic that cannot be forgotten.

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Unlike the fictional June 16, 1904, which follows the dysfunctional life of Leopold Bloom, James Joyce’s June 16, 1904 was quite delightful. It was his first excursion with his future muse and wife, Nora Barnacle, with whom he maintained a lifelong loving and passionate relationship.

In 1954, renowned artist John Ryan and renowned author Brian O’Nolan organised the first official Bloomsday. They commemorated the occasion in Dublin by walking the routes referenced in “Ulysses.” James Joyce’s cousin, his sibling Tom Joyce, and Patrick Kavanagh accompanied them. A.J. Leventhal and Anthony Cronin accompanied the group as the drivers of the two horse-drawn carriages in which the remainder of the group was seated.

Each member was allocated a character from the book, and they all took part in a form of role-playing. Leopold Bloom was portrayed by A.J. Levanthal, Simon Dedalus by Brian O’Nolan, Martin Cunningham by John Ryan, and Stephen Dedalus by Anthony Cronin.

They intended to travel from Martello Tower to Nighttown, exactly as described in the novel. Unfortunately, they did not complete the pilgrimage and cut it short at the halfway point because they were all too inebriated to continue.

Since then, National Bloomsday has become one of the largest festivals in Ireland and is commemorated all over the globe by James Joyce fans.

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Find your Joyce

Pick up a novel, short story, or poem by James Joyce. As one of Ireland’s most revered authors, you owe it to yourself to familiarise or reacquaint yourself with James Joyce’s works.

Examine “Ulysses”

Bloomsday is celebrated internationally. Check to see if there is a local ‘Ulysses’ reading or if you can establish your own! Many readings also include pub excursions, so it’s a win-win situation!

Take part in pub crawls and street celebrations.

Who doesn’t enjoy a good reason to don a costume? True Joyce enthusiasts are known to retrace Bloom’s route on Bloomsday while clad in full Edwardian attire. If you’re already in Dublin, Ireland, you can join a number of groups embarking on the iconic pilgrimage route and enjoying pubs and celebrations along the way. Participate in these raucous celebrations.


In the United States, “Ulysses” was burned in 1918, in Ireland in 1922, in Canada in 1922, and in England in 1923; the book was officially forbidden in England in 1929, most likely because the mass-burning was insufficient to suppress its readership.

James Joyce was an accomplished tenor who won the bronze medal at an Irish classical music competition.

Joyce exchanged a number of passionate, sexually explicit letters with his wife, which have since been auctioned off for nearly a half million dollars.

Joyce nearly burned the original manuscript for “A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man” after a heated dispute with his wife Nora, but his sister was able to save it.

James Joyce was virtually blind for the majority of his life and underwent a number of eye-related operations to improve his vision.


Year Date Day
2023 June 16 Friday
2024 June 16 Sunday
2025 June 16 Monday
2026 June 16 Tuesday
2027 June 16 Wednesday
Arshiya Khan
Arshiya Khan
Arshiya Khan is a Commerce graduate who loves to write on general and trending topics.

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