Bruff Bloomsday festival is the biggest outside Dublin

Donal O’Regan


Donal O’Regan

THE BLOOMSDAY festival in Bruff has grown to be the biggest celebration of James Joyce outside Dublin.

THE BLOOMSDAY festival in Bruff has grown to be the biggest celebration of James Joyce outside Dublin.

Four years ago it started as a one day festival, but due to its popularity it has grown every year by a day.

This year’s four day festival commences on Thursday, June 14.

Bloomsday marks the anniversary of a journey taken by fictional character Leopold Bloom through the streets of Dublin on June 16, 1904, which was chronicled in Joyce’s world famous novel Ulysses.

Donal Thurlow, director of Bloomsday in Bruff, says they combine fun and academia.

“People often ask us why Bruff? The connection between Bruff and Joyce is Joyce’s best friend in UCD was George Clancy, who was the Mayor of Limerick murdered by the Black and Tans in 1922. He was a great friend of Joyce and Joyce based the character Madden in Portrait of the Artist on George Clancy. Frank Prendergast unveiled a plaque last year to record that connection,” explained Mr Thurlow.

They commence their many events on Thursday afternoon with an Edwardian tea dance in the Church of Ireland on Main Street from 4 to 6pm.

It gives people a chance to dust off their 1904 style outfits, said Mr Thurlow. On Friday they bring Bloomsday in Bruff to Limerick city.

“We are co-operating with Limerick Writers Centre between 1 and 2pm in the Milk Market. We will bring in some singers, readers and perform a 20 minute show. On Friday evening at 8pm we have an amazing line-up at the Eve of Bloomsday concert in the national school hall. The star of the show will be Suzanne Murphy - internationally known opera singer,” said Mr Thurlow. To book tickets, €25, contact 086 2463326.

Actress Mary Harvey performs the opening ceremony at 10.30am on Saturday morning with music and readings on Main Street.

“Then we stroll down to the church where we seat a couple of hundred people for a Joycean breakfast, Joyce was famous, not just for a full Irish, but he liked liver and kidneys as well,” said Mr Thurlow.

They head to the park where the best 1904 costumes are judged; watch the butcher boy bicycle race and call in to Clancy’s in the afternoon for crackers, gorgonzola and red wine like Leopold Bloom.

In the Old Bank B&B at 5pm, Gerard Hanberry will give a lecture. Bloomsday culminates with the annual dinner in the church. The festival concludes on Sunday at 4pm with a one woman show called Joyced in the church. For full details see

On behalf of the committee, Mr Thurlow thanked their sponsors Limerick County Council Arts Office, Clonakilty Black Pudding, Pallas Foods, Shannon Development, Bord Failte and all the local businesses including the Old Bank for sponsoring a competition.