Monday, June 16, 2008

Happy Bloomsday


As always.

We laugh about it now, but a year before The Littlest Critic was born, The Wife and I went to England, Scotland, and Ireland (and caught a ferry in Wales, hitting them all) for a two week trip. One week was the U.K. and the next was Eire.

Well, I sat down and made out plans and arranged our hotel and bed and breakfast reservations and all that, making sure that the two of us would be in Dublin for Bloomsday. The idea was to follow one of the Bloomsday tours, see the sites of Joyce's Ulysses, the James Joyce Tower in Sandycove, the Joyce Museum, all that good stuff.

Waking early in the morning, we drove out to Sandycove and got lost. Street signs in Dublin are posted on the sides of buildings, approximately twenty feet off the ground, in what looked like 20-point type. The most common thing we said in Dublin was "Shit, that was our street," just after we passed the intersection. The directions we got to the Martello Tower out on the beach where Ulysses opens were trash, leading us down one warren after another of confused city geography.

We canned that idea, returned to the city center, parked our car, and began walking. We made it to the Joyce Museum, only to find that they were closed early for the holiday. The great idea of the Museum staff was that on the single day that more people would be in Dublin and interested in Ulysses than any other day on the calendar was the day to close up early. So no luck there, a fact we twigged to after standing in line for half an hour.

Consulting our Dublin maps with Joyceana listed about, we tried to catch up with a walking tour of the city and had no luck. We tracked down a few sites, only to find that they were marked with plaques explaining how this particular location used to be something, but isn't anymore. We got lost several times, we wandered all over Dublin like a couple of ijits, and by the end of the day I was happy just to go to the Guinness Factory and learn about the making of stout and the history of the brand. From the top of the building, looking out over the city below us (and drinking The Wife's complimentary pint, as she can't take the rich, full flavor of the best damn beer in the world), it still didn't occur to me.

Not until a few years later, in relating the story, did it occur to both The Wife and I, that we had spent a day honoring a book about a guy who aimlessly wanders the streets of Dublin -- aimlessly wandering the streets of Dublin.

It's a grand joke now, like all great frustrations.

So, lift a pint if you have one, and if you haven't read Ulysses yet (hint, hint), get crackin!

* Picture shamelessly stolen from someone's online photos of their own trip. Ahhh, the Internets...


Anonymous said...

I remember hearing this story shortly after your trip. I'm glad you can laugh about it now.

Ulysses is on my list. I'll get to it someday. Maybe...


Chris said...

I know, I know.

I have it right here! I'm staring at it right as I type this. It's just underneath a book or short stories by Twain and Lest Darkness Fall by L. Sprague De Camp. I promise that I'll try after those two.