Tag Archives: Bloomsday

Almanac – June 16

BLOOMSDAY – in 1904  James Joyce began a relationship with Nora Barnacle and subsequently used the date to set the action of his novel Ulysses; this date is now traditionally called Bloomsday.



1816 – Lord Byron read Fantasmagoriana to his four house guests at the Villa Diodati –  Percy Shelley, Mary Shelley, Claire Clairmont, and John Polidori –  and issued his challenge that each guest write a ghost story, which resulted  in Mary Shelley writing the novel Frankenstein, John Polidori  the short story The Vampyre, and Byron the poem Darkness






1829 – Geronimo born. A prominent leader of the Bedonkohe Apache who fought against Mexico and the United States for their expansion into Apache tribal lands for several decades during the Apache Wars.

Geronimo” was the name given to him during a battle with Mexican soldiers. His Chiricahua name is often rendered as Goyathlay or Goyahkla  in English.









1881 – Marie Laveau died. Louisiana Creole practitioner of Voodoo, renowned in New Orleans.

Of her magical career there is little that can be substantiated. She was said to have had a snake she named Zombi after an African god. Oral traditions suggested that the occult part of her magic mixed Roman Catholic beliefs, including saints, with African spirits and religious concepts.

Her daughter Marie Laveau II (1827 — c. 1895) also practiced Voudoun, and historical accounts often confuse the two.  Some believe that the mother was more powerful while the daughter arranged more elaborate public events (including inviting attendees to St. John’s Eve rituals on Bayou St. John), but it is not known which (if not both) had done more to establish the voodoo queen reputation.

Marie Laveau was reportedly buried in Saint Louis Cemetery No. 1 in New Orleans in the Glapion family crypt. The tomb continues to attract visitors who draw three “x”s (XXX) on its side, in the hopes that Laveau’s spirit will grant them a wish.

Some  researchers claim that Laveau is buried in other tombs, but they may be confusing the resting places of other voodoo priestesses of New Orleans.












1963 – Soviet cosmonaut Valentina Tereshkova became the first woman in space.

During her three-day mission, in Vostok 6,  she performed various tests on herself to collect data on the female body’s reaction to spaceflight.

After the dissolution of the first group of female cosmonauts in 1969, she became a prominent member of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, holding various political offices. She remained politically active following the collapse of the Soviet Union and is still revered as a heroine in post-Soviet Russia.








1999 – Screaming Lord Sutch died. Cult English singer and musican, and founder of the Official Monster Raving Loony Party, who he served as its leader from 1983 to 1999, during which time he stood in numerous parliamentary elections.

Sutch was also a pioneer of pirate radio in the UK, and worked with the legendary record producer  Joe Meek.

His album Lord Sutch and Heavy Friends was named – unfairly ! –  in a 1998 BBC poll as the worst album of all time, despite the fact that Jimmy Page, John Bonham, Jeff Beck, Noel Redding and Nicky Hopkins performed on it and helped write it.

Sutch suffered from depression and committed suicide by hanging.










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Happy Bloomsday !

June 16th  is Bloomsday,  a commemoration and celebration of the life of Irish writer James Joyce during which the events of his novel Ulysses (which is set on 16 June 1904) are relived.
The name derives from Leopold Bloom, the protagonist of Ulysses, and Joyce chose 16 June 1904 as it was the date of his first outing with his wife-to-be, Nora Barnacle – they walked to the Dublin suburb of Ringsend.

Bloomsday (a term Joyce himself did not employ) was invented in 1954, on the 50th anniversary of the events in the novel, when John Ryan (artist, critic, publican and founder of Envoy magazine) and the novelist Flann O’Brien organised what was to be a daylong pilgrimage along the Ulysses route.

They were joined by Patrick Kavanagh, Anthony Cronin, Tom Joyce (a dentist who, as Joyce’s cousin, represented the family interest) and AJ Leventhal (Registrar of Trinity College, Dublin). Ryan had engaged two horse drawn cabs, of the old-fashioned kind, which in Ulysses Bloom and his friends drive to poor Paddy Dignam’s funeral.

The party were assigned roles from the novel. They planned to travel round the city through the day, visiting in turn the scenes of the novel, ending at night in what had once been the brothel quarter of the city, the area which Joyce had called Nighttown.

However, the pilgrimage was abandoned halfway through, when the pilgrims succumbed to inebriation and rancour at the Bailey pub in the city centre, which Ryan then owned. A Bloomsday record of 1954, informally filmed by John Ryan, follows this pilgrimage.

A few particles of Bloomsday miscellania – culled from the internet, so may or may not be true…

In 1956, Ted Hughes and Sylvia Plath were married by special licence of the Archbishop of Canterbury at St George the Martyr Church, Holborn, on 16 June, in honour of Bloomsday.

In Mel Brooks‘ 1968 film The Producers, Gene Wilder‘s character is called Leo Bloom, an homage to Joyce’s character. In the musical 2005 version, in the evening scene at the Bethesda Fountain in Central Park, Leo asks, “When will it be Bloom’s day?”. However, in the earlier scene in which Bloom first meets Max Bialystock, the office wall calendar shows that the current day is 16 June, indicating that it is, in fact, Bloomsday.

In 1981 a biography of Leopold Bloom – by Peter Costello – was published. Not read it, but it may have had an influence on the next item…

Bloomsday has also been celebrated since 1994 in the Hungarian town of Szombathely, the fictional birthplace of Leopold Bloom’s father, Virág Rudolf, an emigrant Hungarian Jew.

The event is usually centered on the Iseum, the remnants of an Isis temple from Roman times, and the Blum-mansion, commemorated to Joyce since 1997, at 40–41 Fő street, which used to be the property of an actual Jewish family called Blum.
Hungarian author László Najmányi in his 2007 novel, The Mystery of the Blum-Mansion  describes the results of his research on the connection between Joyce and the Blum family.

On Bloomsday 2011, @11ysses was the stage for an experimental day-long tweeting of Ulysses. Starting at 0800 (Dublin time) on Thursday 16 June 2011, the aim was to explore what would happen if Ulysses was recast 140 characters at a time.

And  Bloomsday 2011 also saw the arrival of our new  Cat from the rescue centre. A beautiful black & white girl, around a year old, she was named Molly, after Leopold Bloom’s wife.

I guess this is a good example of  the consequences of an action echoing down through the years. When Joyce and Nora took that original walk in 1904 they could never have imagined that they were setting in motion a chain of events that would result, 108 years later, of a Cat in Sunderland being named after a character in a novel that wouldn’t even be published for another 18 years.

Molly, incidentally, has moved into music videos with a percussive offering called To My Hellcat [which is, of course, an anagram of Molly the Cat].

Mr. Frankenstein


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