Oh never mind St Paddy's Day. For book lovers, June 16th, or Bloomsday, is the real Irish holiday. This year is special because it's the first Bloomsday in which Ulysses is free from copyright. So how will you be celebrating this most literary of occasions? For me, I'll be continuing to listen to Frank Delaney's incredible Re:Joyce podcast, now two years old and on episode 105 - "Irish Bull" (and still only a little way into chapter 3). I can't recommend this wonderful offering enough. For serious Joyceans it's a deep look into every word of Joyce's masterpiece. For those just coming to the work, it's the most attentive hand-holding -- better than a class. Best of all, it's completely free. Frank has just released a special Bloomsday edition that provides "a thumbnail breakdown of the best way to begin with James Joyce".
A new article from Frank titled Seeing Joyce has just been published in The Public Domain Review. It asks whether, in this year in which Ulysses is finally free from copyright and the restrictions of the famously difficult Joyce estate, we should stop trying to "read" Joyce and instead make visits to him as if to a gallery. Certainly that's how I approach Finnegan's Wake, and nowadays, though I'm enjoying the narrative progression of re-reading in sync with Re:Joyce, that's how I approach Ulysses too.
The BBC are also providing a free podcast dramatised version of Ulysses, with Henry Goodman as Leopold Bloom, Andrew Scott as Stephen Dedalus, and Niamh Cusak as Molly Bloom.
If you haven't yet seen Delaney's James Joyce rap, which I put up here last Bloomsday then you're missing out on something really good. Fear not, I've put it up again. Just click the arrow and watch it right now.
If Delaney has tempted you to find out more about Joyce, you could do worse than check out Edna O'Brien's James Joyce: A Life which I've recently reviewed. Want more? A little search on "Bloomsday 2012" will come up with enough activities to keep you fully immersed in Ulysses, but if you're not in the mood to party (Joyce himself usually was), you could just pour yourself a Guinness (one of the cans with the widget things if you don't have a pub nearby to get it on tap), open the great book, and have a little read. I can guarantee you will find something fresh, wonderful and worthwhile. Happy Bloomsday!