In Jersey, They’re Getting Ready to Re-Joyce
If James Joyce had envisioned a western-themed sequel to his classic novel “Ulysses,” it might have been called: “Leopold Bloom Rides Again. And Again, and Again, and Again.”
“Ulysses” is recalled by Joyce fans around the world (with Dublin as the observance’s epicenter) every June 16. It’s a tradition dating back many, many years.) The event is named after protagonist Leopold Bloom.
June 16 is the day in 1904 in which all of the events of “Ulysses” take place. Anyone and everyone who loves the Irish writer gets in on the act: Pubs do it. Museums do it. Probably educated (very educated) fleas do it.
In Philadelphia, the day has long been celebrated with a street fair sponsored by the famous Rosenbach Museum and Library on Delancey Place. (It’s set for Wednesday, June 16, between noon and 7.) There’s also a program called “Bloomsday 101″ at Fergie’s Pub, 1214 Sansom Street, on Monday, June 14, from 6 to 8 p.m.
The Irish folks across the river are no strangers to Bloomsday. The immortal publican Billy Briggs hosted a Bloomsday reading for years at his landmark Tir na nÓg in Hamilton Township, near Trenton.
This year, the Dublin Square Pub in Bordentown is picking up on the tradition on Sunday, June 13, starting at 7 p.m. (following the weekly Irish music session) and lasting until 8:30 (or whenever).
Bill O’Neal, the musician who anchors the Sunday session (during the week, he teaches English at Trenton High School), says the idea was hatched by flutist and ER surgeon Dr. Nancy Ferguson, who also has a musical history at Tir na nÓg.
“Nancy’s done this before,” O’Neal said. “They did it at Billy Briggs’ place, but it’s been maybe eight years.” O’Neal says Ferguson suggested the idea to Dublin Square principal owner Michael McGeough back around St. Patrick’s Day. “Michael was raised in Dublin, so he thought it was a great idea,” O’Neal says.
Taking part in the reading will be Ferguson and her group An Fleadh Liteartha, which celebrates the Irish arts. Also scheduled to read will be Jack McCarthy III, a Princeton lawyer and author of “Joyce’s Dublin,” and Joyce scholar Lee Harrod. (Story-teller Tom Slattery might also make an appearance.)
It was Harrod, O’Neal says, who helped inspire his own love of Joyce. “Dr. Harrod was a teacher at the College of New Jersey,” he says. “I took a course on Joyce with him many years ago. After that, he invited me back to the class every year to sing songs from that period.”
O’Neal will perform songs at the Dublin Square event, too.
No one is completely sure how pub denizens will take to the reading, but, O’Neal says, “I think they’ll enjoy it. Most of them will probably wonder at first, what is going on here? But I know when they did it at Tir na nÓg, it went very well.”
Ready to get your Joyce on? Head to the pub on June 13. It’s at 167 Route 130. (609) 298-7100.