Bloomsday and the Boys

We celebrate Bloomsday every year by climbing the Martello Tower in Sandycove, the starting point for Leopold Bloom’s journey in Ulysses, and where Joyce once lived with his mad friend Buck Mulligan aka Oliver St John Gogarty. The tower now houses the James Joyce Museum, and our Bloomsday adventures are always peppered with impromptu performances from some of Joyce’s texts, which probably make more sense to the kids than they do to me. This morning, under a leaden sky, we were treated to part of an opera based on Ulysses, and the sight of locals variously attired in Edwardian gear.


I am a veritable expert on Joyce’s life, if not his literature, so, in true juvenile style, I use the weirdest anecdotes to regale the children with as they rush past the glass exhibition cases and up the, extremely narrow, extremely steep steps, which my two hardy knights are adept at climbing. (Incidentally the first time we climbed them, my 4 year old was 2 and my 2 year old was a baby in a sling). The tower-top is very secure, though, and there is a cannon and a brilliant view of ‘ghost ships’ on the foggy horizon.

Now, I know what you are thinking, what could a 2 and a 4 year old possibly care about Joyce or his books? Well, here are my Top Toddler Facts about Bloomsday:

  • James Joyce was shot at by his friend one night when he was mistaken for a black panther.
  • The sculpture of his head in the museum is actually a copy of his death mask.
  • Leopold Bloom eats a gross-out breakfast of “giblet soup, nutty gizzards, a stuffed roast heart, liver slices fried with crustcrumbs, fried hencod’s roes. Most of all he liked grilled mutton kidneys which gave to his palate a fine tang of faintly scented urine.”
  • Oh, and he wrote two children’s books, The Cat and the Devil, and The Cats of Copenhagen, pictured below, so I suppose you could also say he had a thing about cats.
  • joycecatdevilrose3catsofcopenhagen2