Bloomsday group's post-lockdown gathering to celebrate Joyce novel

Melbourn's Bloomsday Group held a special lunch in honour of James Joyce's novel Ulysses

Melbourn's Bloomsday Group held a special lunch in honour of James Joyce's novel Ulysses - Credit: Hugh Pollock

It's that time of year again - when James Joyce fans come together in Melbourn to raise money for WaterAid.

Bloomsday is held each year in honour of Joyce's novel Ulysses - the action of which takes place over a single day on June 16, 1904.

First published in 1922, Ulysses follows a Hungarian Jew and everyman named Leopold Bloom throughout his working day walking around Dublin, selling advertising space and chasing accounts. The novel also features Joyce's equally famous creation - Leopold's wife Molly Bloom.

The founders of Melbourn's Bloomsday Celebration Group held a special Bloomsday lunch on June 16, with their usual festivities muted due to the pandemic.

Hugh Pollock with Yvonne Chamberlain at the reinactment at Premier Stores. Picture: Clive Porter

Hugh Pollock and Yvonne Chamberlain at a previous Bloomsday re-enactment - Credit: Clive Porter

Bloomsday Group co-ordinator Hugh Pollock said: "Bloomsday is celebrated in countries and regions across the world wherever great novels are read.


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"Readers come together for fun - usually wearing June 1904 outfits - and celebrate with public talks, films, readings and re-enactments all drawn from famous scenes in the novel.

"Founded in 2015, our small group has done this annual celebration to promote the work of WaterAid."

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The Bloomsday lunch reflects the events of the novel - a tired and hungry Bloom enters Davy Byrne's pub, where he orders a gorgonzola cheese sandwich and a glass of Burgundy.

A replica of the postcard from Leopold Bloom's daughter Milly in Ulysses

A replica of the postcard from Leopold Bloom's daughter Milly in Ulysses - Credit: Hugh Pollock

He chats with Davy and fellow customers about the headlines in his propped up paper, particularly that day's Ascot Gold Cup. He 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, leaving behind his newspaper, postcard, bowler hat and reading glasses.

This year the group were unable to hold their usual readings and re-enactments because of COVID-19, but nonetheless met for the lunch and to remember 'absent friends'.

These included Leopold Bloom himself, those absent due to COVID, and people living far away in dire poverty, with the virus rampant in their community and relying on WaterAid projects to deliver clean, safe water. 

To donate to WaterAid go to www.wateraid.co.uk/donate or call the Supporter Care Team on 020 7793 4594.


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