Wednesday, May 6, 2015

James Joyce & Dublin - In the Footsteps of Leopold Bloom

Kerry Hammond is just back from Ireland where she saw many wonderful things, we're featuring tales of her travels in a five-part, Ode-to-Ireland series. Today we start with James Joyce and a giveaway...

I was fortunate enough to spend two weeks in Ireland this past March. I enjoyed the beautiful countryside, the seaside views, and the friendly locals. Whenever I travel internationally, I travel as a reader. I look up local authors, and read mysteries set in the places I intend to visit. Now that I’ve returned, I have prepared a series of blogposts for Mystery Playground readers to share a few of my favorite finds.

Many visit Blarney Castle to kiss the Blarney stone. But you can also stumble across (but luckily not down) the castle’s Murder Hole and take a stroll through the Poison Garden found on the castle grounds. I will share with you some of the local bookstore gems I discovered and show you the most amazing library. There will also be two giveaways to readers who comment, and one is for this post.

I will start my Irish tour with Irelands most famous and revered writer, James Joyce. No literary trip to Dublin would be complete without a mention of James Joyce. I planned ahead and obtained the audio version of Joyce’s 
Ulysses prior to my trip. It is no small undertaking, the actual book is almost 700 pages. The book is among the list of the greatest novels of the 20th century, so I had to read it. The story follows one man (Leopold Bloom) through one city (Dublin) on one day (June 16, 1904). The book was written in 18 episodes and parallels the story of Ulysses in Homer’s Odyssey. To this day, June 16th is Bloomsday in Dublin, celebrated by people who dress in period costumes and wander the streets as Leo did.

I decided on a wander through town with a stop at a couple of the places visited by Leopold Bloom, even though it wasn’t Bloomsday. I started my tour at the Statue of James Joyce, located on North Earl Street, just off O’Connell Street. Joyce is looking dapper in his hat and coat.

When Leo Bloom crossed the O’Connell Bridge, which spans the River Liffy, he purchased Banbury cakes from a street vendor to feed the seagulls.

The Writer’s Museum, located at Parnell Square, has many interesting items on exhibit relating to Joyce and other wonderful Irish authors. Oscar Wilde is one of my favorite Irish authors, and I found the items on display especially interesting. I loved the name of the restaurant next door.

And no Bloom walk would be complete without a trip to Davy Byrne’s pub on Duke Street. It is here that Bloom ate his famous lunch: a gorgonzola sandwich and a glass of Burgundy wine. An order I placed myself.

The giveaway today is a set of coasters featuring famous Irish Poets & Playwrights, purchased in the gift shop of Trinity College in Dublin. Nine Irish writers are featured, including James Joyce, of course. All you have to do to enter the contest is post a comment here telling me if you’ve ever read a book by an Irish author, and if so, which one. If you haven’t, you can post that you haven’t, and you’ll still be entered. Deadline is one week from today.


  1. Love this! This trip looks like so much fun.

  2. Great trip! Now I need to go to Ireland.

  3. Irish coasters for the win!!

  4. No I have not read an Irish author or been to Ireland, but I do have a sweater from Ireland!!

  5. I love this wonderful post. So interesting. The coasters are unique and special. Yes, I have read many novels by Irish authors. Life Drawing For Beginners by Roisin Meaney. saubleb(at)gmail(dot)com

  6. Thanks for this great feature and giveaway which is precious and a treasure which I would cherish. I haven't travelled to Ireland but I have read all of Meave Binchy's novels, starting with Circle of Friends. elliotbencan(at)hotmail(dot)com

  7. I listened to an audiobook by James Joyce, Portrait of the Young Artist As a Young Man.

  8. Frank McCourt and Maeve Binchy spring to mind, but I'm sure there are others I've read as well. I'm jealous! I'd love to spend at least two weeks in Ireland.

  9. Our winner is Todd. Congratulations! Look for an e-mail shortly.