Royston Bloomsday marks 100th anniversary of James Joyce's novel

Hugh Pollock celebrated Bloomsday in Royston with town mayor Cllr Mary Antony

Hugh Pollock enjoying a Bloomsday lunch in Royston with town mayor Cllr Mary Antony - Credit: Hugh Pollock

A group of James Joyce enthusiasts gathered in Royston to celebrate 'Bloomsday' - marking 100 years since his famous novel 'Ulysses' was published.

The action of Ulysses takes place over a single day on June 16, 1904 - which is known as Bloomsday in honour of the novel's protagonist Leopold Bloom.

Hugh Pollock celebrated Bloomsday in Royston with town mayor Cllr Mary Antony

Hugh Pollock celebrated Bloomsday in Royston with town mayor Cllr Mary Antony - Credit: Hugh Pollock

First published in 1922, Ulysses follows Bloom, a Hungarian Jew and an everyman, throughout his working day as he walks around Dublin, selling advertising space and chasing accounts. The novel also follows Leopold's wife Molly Bloom.

To mark the 100th anniversary, this year Bloomsday was celebrated in Royston for the first time. 

Hugh Pollock, who is coordinator of Melbourn's Bloomsday Group, said: "Bloomsday is celebrated annually in countries and regions across the world wherever great novels are read and the creative arts are valued.

"Readers come together for fun - usually wearing June 1904 outfits - and celebrate in lots of different ways related to the novel."

Hugh Pollock dressed as Leopold Bloom from James Joyce's Ulysses

Hugh Pollock dressed as Leopold Bloom from James Joyce's Ulysses - Credit: Hugh Pollock

On the day Hugh dressed up as Leopold Bloom and met Royston Town Mayor Cllr Mary Antony in Royston's Banyers House Hotel to recreate the novel's famous lunch scene, which takes place in Dublin pub Davy Byrnes.

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In the scene, a tired and hungry Bloom enters Davy Byrne's pub, where he orders a gorgonzola cheese sandwich and a glass of Burgundy.

He chats with Davy Byrne and fellow customers about the headlines in the day's newspaper, particularly that day's Ascot Gold Cup. He also reflects on life passing and his absent daughter Milly, whose postcard arrived that morning from her job away from home.

Finally, he goes to the gents and leaves behind his newspaper, postcard, bowler hat and reading glasses.

Cllr Mary Antony said: "I was delighted to be invited to celebrate Bloomsday in this the novel's 100th Anniversary year.

"It is the first time Bloomsday: June 16 has been celebrated in Royston and I hope it will not be the last."

Melbourn's Bloomsday Group was formed in 2015 to celebrate the novel and to raise money in support of WaterAid, and was only able to hold muted celebrations over the past two years due to lockdown.