As all James Joyce fans know, yesterday, 16th June was Bloomsday and to mark this year’s 100th anniversary of the publication of his epic work, Ulysses, the Association Soy de la Cuesta and Tourism Ireland in Spain joined forces for the first time to mark Bloomsday Madrid.
The 16th of June 1904 being the date and on which the protagonist Leopold Bloom meets his wife-to-be, Nora Barnacle and the date of the annual commemoration, with many participants in period costume to celebrate the book and the writer.
Bloomsday, which has become an international phenomenon is now celebrated far beyond its Dublin beginnings with James Joyce Societies all over the world is now officially in Madrid.
The Madrid James Joyce Society, which was founded in 2014 will be leading Madrid’s first Bloomsday with a tour in full Edwardian costume, with stops and recitals as the Spanish capital takes on an Irish air.
The tour set off from the Cuesta de Moyano, which steps in for Sandycove beach with its Martello Tower, before continuing on to the Prado Museum, stopping at its monument to the painter Velázquez; the National Library, and a refreshment stop at the James Joyce Pub.
Duly refreshed the tour headed to the Convent of Las Trinitarias and its tombstone in memory of Miguel de Cervantes before continuing onto the Pharmacy in Calle Leon, Madrid’s equivalent to the famous Sweny’s Pharmacy in Ulysses, and the Gran Hotel Inglés to recreate the scene in the Hotel Ormond in Dublin.
Included in the afternoon were visits to bookshops in the Barrio de las Letras that displayed quotes from Ulysses in their shop windows and finally a tribute evening at the Ateneo on Calle Prado where the actress Magui Mira, who has performed the final monologue in Ulysses for the last 40 years ended the day.
“I was a Flower of the mountain yes when I put the rose in my hair like the Andalusian girls used or shall I wear a red yes and how he kissed me under the Moorish wall and I thought well as well him as another… then he asked me would I yes to say yes my mountain flower and first I put my arms around him yes and drew him down to me so he could feel my breasts all perfume yes and his heart was going like mad and yes I said yes I will Yes.”