Bloomsday is 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. It is observed annually on 16 June in Dublin and elsewhere. Joyce chose the date as it was the date of his first outing with his wife-to-be, Nora Barnacle; they walked to the Dublin suburb of Ringsend.
The first known celebration of Bloomsday in Ireland was in 1954, when writers Patrick Kavanagh and Flann O’Brien visited several locations from the novel, including 7 Eccles Street, Leopold Bloom’s home.
On Bloomsday itself, Joyce fans dress in Edwardian costume to conjure up the atmosphere of the period in which Ulysses was set. Fans follow the route around Dublin taken by Bloom and usually have a breakfast of sausages, beans, black and white pudding and toast at some stage along the way.
Sweny’s pharmacy is famously featured in the fifth episode of Joyce’s Ulysses, known as the ‘Lotus Eaters’ episode. Sweny’s opens its doors to welcome people on their Bloomsday adventure. Wait by the counter like Leopold Bloom, absorbing the authentic atmosphere. Watch the chemist at work with his herbs and ointments amongst all his alabaster lilypots. Pick up a bar of lemon soap that you can carry with you all day, just like Poldy. Get involved in a reading from Ulyssses, enjoy a cup of tea and share epic tales about your own life. You might even get the chance to join in an Edwardian singsong! There will be merriment in this hidden Joycean gem throughout the day and into the evening, so just come along whenever you like!