Bruff goes full-on for Bloomsday

Donal Thurlow, Director of Bloomsday Festival. pic: Cian Reinhardt limerick post newspaper bruff
Donal Thurlow, Director of Bloomsday Festival. pic: Cian Reinhardt

WHAT do James Joyce, a former Mayor of Limerick and the town of Bruff have in common?

Sinn Fein councillor Thomas Clancy and now, a celebration of Bloomsday.

Joycean scholar and director of Bloomsday in Bruff, Donal Thurlow, told the Limerick Post, “I would travel to Dublin for Bloomsday and people travel to London but there is a Joycean connection right here in Bruff”.

Donal, who has lectured on Joyce in Dublin and Trieste, explained that the late George Clancy, who was Mayor of Limerick was born and educated in Bruff.

“Clancy studied at University College Dublin and he was a friend of Joyce. He even persuaded Joyce and others to take Irish language lessons with Padraic Pearse”.

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Thomas Clancy became the model for the character Madden in Joyce’s posthumous novel ‘Stephen Hero’ and for Davin in ‘A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man’.

Clancy’s pub in the town features a plaque which commemorates the friendship between the two men.

“Joyce remembers Clancy in a letter in 1935 where he makes it clear that Clancy was the only one who called him by his first name,” said Donal.

Now in its tenth year, Bloomsday in Bruff is a celebration of Joyce and the events in his novel ‘Ulysses’, which is set on June 16, 1904.

And this Saturday, June 16 is marked out for Joycean events in Bruff starting with an opening ceremony in the Lower Main Street at 11.30am with award-winning local actress Mary Harvey. This will be followed by a traditional Joycean breakfast in the restored church of Ireland building.

There will be readings and songs during the breakfast and then a stroll through ‘Ulysses’, with locations transformed into the Dublin settings of Joyce’s work.

A Trieste-style Cafe will be set up in the afternoon and there will be readings, food, and live music from the era before the annual Joyce Lecture at 4pm on ‘Feminism, The Women of Ballyhoura, the Suffragettes and James Joyce”.

‘We’ve had people come from the UK and as far away as the USA. It’s a wonderful celebration,” said Donal.