Wednesday, June 27, 2018


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Doesn't time fly.

Another Bloomsday is with us and Ulysses is taken down from the shelf for another airing.

This is not Joyce's Martello Tower though I've embedded him on the Battery Plain. This is the commanding tower above Killiney Bay, No.7 Dublin South, with a view of all nine emplacements in the Bay, sort of. This Tower is unique in being a bit inshore and on an elevation. It's in a position identified just before the 1798 Rising by ex-pat French Royalist Nobleman, Major Charles le Comte de La Chaussée.

So there Leo, Buck and Stephen, eat your hearts out.

Photo: Felix Larkin

This year I have had to come out from behind the camera into the limelight and do my hastily assembled thing.

I was supposed to have passed on a request for a star performer from Niall O'Donoghue, the Tower's proprietor and Maître d'.

I forgot, and time was then running out so I volunteered myself with only a vague idea of what I was going to do. With touching faith, Niall accepted and the rest is history.

Photo: Sovay Murray

I got an introduction from Felix Larkin which made me wonder why, if what he said was true, I hadn't been avidly pursued by all manner of impressarios throughout my life.

But, of course, a little poetic licence is permitted on occasions such as these and I should have been very relieved that he had not just stuck to the bare truth. He created a wonderful feeling of anticipation for what was to come. So Felix, you are forgiven and thanks for the compliments. I have to admire your faith.

And if you want to check out Felix's contribution to this event last Bloomsday, its on his website.

Photo: Sovay Murray

Anyway, I kicked off my contribution with the most explicitly sexual passages I could find in Ulysses in the time available, me never having read the book.

I suspect some members of the audience were getting a little uneasy at this point, but they needn't have worried. I knew Niall had omitted to put the bromide in the coffee so I toned it down for the rest of my contribution.

I think, from a purely Joycean point of view, I cheated. I shamelessly used Ulysses to impart some of the less well known gems of the history of Killiney Bay to my audience, many of whom were locals.

Well, they laughed in all the right places and a hush descended when I tiptoed around the subject of child abuse. They even made fun of poor Edward Ball's predicament as he waited patiently in the middle of the night to dump his murdered mother's remains into the Bay.

Perhaps they were just too polite, but nobody gave out about the meagre content from Ulysses itself in the whole affair, or about how outrageously I stretched the connections to give me the opportunity to parade my knowledge of some of the more obscure aspects of the Bay.

With me done, we moved on to a little music. Neil gave us some Joyce related songs accompanied by a keyboard that was the nearest to a grand piano I'd ever heard from one of those things.

It was a very pleasant and totally appropriate interlude.

I'd like especially to mention Susan Hedigan. It was her husband David who, along with Niall, started Bloomsday at the Tower. So this was a sad day for her, remembering David who died in March 2015. However the day was Susan's birthday, born on Bloomsday and living in Bloom Cottage in Sadycove, and I had the honour of presenting her with a bouquet on behalf of Niall and those present. Neil the musicman immediately struck up Happy Birthday and everyone enthusiastically joined in.

Niall has recorded a tribute to David which consists mainly of David's presentation on Bloomsday 2014 at the Tower.

A short interlude in the open air, where it all would have happened but for the variability of the weather. Felix, still on duty after a fashion, was quietly recording it all for posterity.

Then back inside for the musical peroration with Truly Divine. I had spotted this amazing lady at another Bloomsday, in the Leeson Inn, in 2016, and she is a wow.

With her accomplished accompanist on acoustic guitar, Eamonn Moran, she entertained us royally with Joyce-related songs, including one, which Joyce himself had put to music, from his collection of love poems, entitled Chamber Music.

So another Bloomsday gone. Let's hope the next one comes round just as quick.

By the way, if you want to tackle my paper you can find it here.

1 comment:

  1. My dearest Sir, what a beautifully witty and complimentary piece you wrote here on that fine sunny day we shared together. I'm taking your "wow" and will sing it off the rooftops of Dublin!
    Until the next Bloomsday, if not before!
    Warmly Yours, Truly