Bloomsday 2022

Coming from an Irish family and having been an Irish dancer for 16 years of my life, I always latch on to any chance to celebrate my heritage. Luckily, I was granted such an opportunity when the Patchogue Arts Council (PAC) decided to host its first ever Bloomsday celebration at the James Joyce Pub and Restaurant.

If you happen to know anything about Bloomsday, you’d see why the location was the perfect choice. Bloomsday originated in Ireland in 1954. It was held on June 16, in commemoration of the 50th anniversary of James Joyces’ novel “Ulysses.” The choice of date stems from the plot of the novel, which all takes place on one singular day in Dublin—June 16, 1904.

So, Bloomsday is when Joyce and Irish literature fans gather in pubs (or similar atmospheres) to read bits of the novel over food and, of course, drinks! As PAC board member and Bloomsday host Pat Sweeny said, the celebration, “like the Irish, has immigrated to all corners of the world.”

I attended this event with my parents and one of my brothers. My mom, a former English teacher, was a reader. And I must say, I was impressed with my first Bloomsday experience.

James Joyce Pub and Restaurant is somewhere I’ve never been, but within minutes of walking through the door I truly felt reminiscent of the time I spent in Dublin when I was 16.

The color scheme of the restaurant was green and black, with copper accents throughout the building. There is a giant, beautiful portrait of Joyce that seamlessly blends into one of the restaurant walls.

Upstairs, where the event was held, the waiters and bartenders donned green shirts with suspenders, accompanied by costume mustaches and top hats. Talk about a theme well-done!

My mom reading a passage from “Ulysses”

Since I’ve never read “Ulysses” myself, I couldn’t fully follow each passage that was read. When I lost grasp of the words I was hearing, I found myself turning to observe the room. I saw a crowd of more than 50 go quiet as people intently listened or followed along in their own book. People were laughing and smiling. The applause after each reader’s bit was loud and genuine. This was a room full of people brought together by a love for the Irish heritage. And what a beautiful thing that is!

As a dancer, I can’t overlook the musical interludes that occurred after each set of three readers. All in all, it was a great way to spend a Thursday evening. I am happy to know that the PAC hopes to host Bloomsday every year going forward.

Before next summer though, you can check out other PAC events or for a dose of Irish culture you can visit the James Joyce Pub and Restaurant in Patchogue.