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Trip Report TR: Solo in DUBLIN for BLOOMSDAY, an Irish literary odyssey

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BLOOMSDAY - Does it ring a bell? Leopold Bloom is the hero of James Joyce's (1882-1941) inscrutable, controversial novel ULYSSES whose publication was delayed for many years on both sides of the Atlantic because of obscenity issues. The adventures of "Everyman" Bloom are centered in Dublin on one day, June 16, 1904. Innumerable characters and places are referenced in the narrative which Joyce enthusiasts commemorate and revisit in Dublin each year on Bloomsday, and in many other cities throughout the world.

Joyce fled Ireland on a self-imposed exile to the Continent as a young man, yet he continued to choose Dublin as the setting for his fiction throughout his life. Indeed, James Joyce would be stunned to learn that his legacy has become a cottage industry in his native city after his death. Hundreds don Edwardian dress or straw boaters and quote spontaneously from the text to re-create the spirit of ULYSSES on June 16 and the week preceding that date.

WHY: To participate in the fun and frolic of Bloomsday activities, to explore those venues associated with other Irish writers, and to visit those museums/sites of artistic and historical interest in Dublin.

WHEN: Wednesday, June 10 - Wednesday, June 17, 2015

WHERE: Buswells Hotel in central Dublin, with short jaunts to Howth to the north, and Dun Laoghaire and Sandymount to the south of Dublin Bay.

WEATHER: fantastic, cool at times, but I did not open the brully once in seven days.

IRELAND - THE PREQUEL: I have been here before in body and spirit. My maternal grandparents "came out" from Ballinaheglish, Roscommon around 1889 to Lynn, Massachusetts. My grandfather paid for their passage with gold coins he won shearing sheep. My mother, born in the US, was steeped in the traditions and prejudices of the Irish Catholic immigrants which she passed on to me. Some twenty years ago I took my first trip to Europe - a week's bus tour to Ireland with my two young adult daughters. We loved it.

A theme in my mother's stories was one of longing to revisit "the old country" which was beyond the her parents' means. A few years after my first trip, I toured Northern Ireland with a friend enjoying the beauties of the Antrim coast, Donegal, and Belfast. In the late 90s the North was just opening up to tourists. Our guide warned us, "Do NOT take any pictures of military facilities" of which there were many. The "Troubles" were not that long over. I recall thinking, "OMG, my mother would never believe that I was in Northern Ireland."

Then in the summers of 2002 and 2003 I went to the gorgeous west of Ireland with my cousin MJ whose husband's family have a farm in a remote part of Galway. Serendipitously, that property was only about a 20 minute drive from my ancestral seat in Roscommon. We went there, scoured the cemetery where I found the headstones of by forebears, and bought an intriguing book about the history of the parish in the local pub. It felt like home.

On these earlier jaunts I had only passed through Dublin, so I decided to explore the city after these many years, focusing on BLOOMSDAY and Ireland's literary traditions ...

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