Tag Archives: Ireland

Celebrating Bloomsday

We’re really excited to be marking Bloomsday on Saturday with a special Beatroot Rendez-Vouz event at the Prince Albert in Stroud. For those of you who are justifiably wondering, “What the hell is Bloomsday?” — well, I’ll tell you.

Bloomsday is a celebration of James Joyce’s landmark novel Ulysses. The action of the novel takes place on one day: 16 June 1904, and closely follows the movements and thoughts of its primary and peripheral characters (many of them real Dubliners) on an ordinary day in Dublin. One of these primary characters is Leopold Bloom — hence the name”Bloomsday”.  The 16th of June was, in fact, the day Joyce met his wife-to-be, Nora Barnacle.

The novel caused a great uproar when it was first published, largely due to its stark depiction of the stuff of everyday life; including eating, drinking, pissing, shitting, daydreaming about sex, wanking, getting drunk and singing, getting drunk and crying, getting drunk and trying it on with the object of your desire, getting drunk and fighting in the street — namely, the things that real people do in real life.

Such offensive material was considered by the bulwarks of virtue to be obscene and damaging to society, and was therefore banned in the US and UK, until elderly men in black robes decided to acknowledge that Ulysses is a titan of modernist literature, and not just dimestore smut.

Every 16th of June since 1954, poets, authors, artists and punters who just love the book have marked Bloomsday in Dublin (and abroad) by following in the characters’ footsteps, drinking in the same pubs, eating the same sandwiches — possibly even using the same loos. Many follow the route the characters travelled in the book, between Sandymount (a seaside suburb of Dublin) and a meandering trail around the inner city.

For example, many people flock to Davey Byrne’s pub on South Anne Street at 11:30am to have a gorgonzola sandwich and a glass of burgundy — the very fare in the very same pub enjoyed by Leopold Bloom in the novel. Enthusiasts dressed in period attire will then read aloud from that chapter, often acting out the narrative.

Basically, it’s a bit of fun. I was lucky enough to be living in Dublin on the 100th anniversary of the day Ulysses takes place. It was like a much more sober — and more genuinely Irish — St Patrick’s Day. I’ve celebrated it ever since. This year, I’m chuffed that I’ll have some of my mates from Dublin here in Stroud to celebrate it with me.

Join the Facebook event here.

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We Love… Jinx Lennon

“From far away/the city looks like a great big chandelier/but when you get near/the light begins to separate/and you see a different landscape …”

Jinx Lennon is one of those characters who is certainly bigger, better, more complicated and far more interesting than any adjectives one can use would suggest.  Punk Poet, Preacher, Singer-Songwriter, Soul Man, Voice of Protest — sure.  Whatever.  Jinx Lennon is unique, and like all unique individuals — whether they be artists, carpenters, saints or sociopaths — he eludes final judgement and definite description.

I was lucky enough to have moved to Ireland in August of 2003, and even luckier to have lived there until March of this year.  I say lucky because had I not come to integrate into Irish society, I wouldn’t have picked up on Jinx’s message, understood the context (or the accent) of his work, or really had the opportunity to witness one of the last and brightest bastions of punk in full operation.

Jinx Lennon is from Dundalk, he’ll have you know.  Location is important with Jinx.  His songs are not so much snapshots of real life; they’re more like bites ripped right out of life’s tender flanks.  Jinx engages you with his songs.  Much in the same way that a foreigner engaging with you intensely may take some getting used to, like a friend or new love or a great work of art, it takes some commitment on your part to reap the full benefit.  You’ve got to have your eyes and ears and mind open, your mouth shut, and your dancing shoes on.

Jinx Lennon takes chunks of life and melts them into poems, distills them down to their essences.  Life is dirt and grime, love and peace, hate and war, sex and oppression, politics and skullduggery; life is flowers growing on top of a landfill, a dove pecking at Saturday night’s vomit, love in the time of capitalism, climate change and extraordinary renditions.  “Know Your Station Gouger Nation!” the title of his second album urges us.  What station is that?

Your station is Ireland in ribbons, bruised and bloodied by a million greedy hands grabbing at the goodies, ripping the sweets out of children’s hands: be it hospitals, education, Ireland’s consitutional mandate to neutrality, or the lifeblood of the country itself, sucked into the sewers of mind, the swamps of Catholicism, the bog of Progress and Development.  Your station is coming in on the frequency of conformity; everybody is listening to the sound of their own dissolution, the shattering of their society into millions of atoms, each alone, dissociated, dislocated, without a language, a patchwork and contradictory identity, an identity confined to possession and location.  Ireland is the train station in the middle of nowhere, trying to get somewhere —  if only the train would come!  Ireland is the upwardly-mobile beast of the borrowed dollar.  Ireland in ribbons, bruised and abused, long-suffering, enduring, knowing right from wrong but casting her lot with the highest bidder.

Jinx Lennon has never been more relevant than he is today.  The banking system suffered a seizure, and we’re told it almost toppled — on top of us, of course.  Ireland hangs together by her ribbons, and Jinx is her poet.  Jinx Lennon is the most modern of all poets: nobody is on top of it like Jinx.  The poet bears the banner, the beacon; the heart in his hand is Ireland’s heart.  We’d be wise to follow our hearts.  That failing, follow the poet who holds it in his capable hands.

www.jinxlennon.com, www.myspace.com/httpwwwmyspacecomjinxlennon


Ben Kritikos
27 December ’09

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