Bloomin’ Fun-ion: Where to Celebrate Bloomsday in Lower Manhattan

06/12/2024 in
Bloomin’ Fun-ion: Where to Celebrate Bloomsday in Lower Manhattan

Many of the greatest stories in fiction — from “Dazed and Confused” to “The Warriors” — take place in the span of a single day. The epic book “Ulysses” by James Joyce is definitely not one you can read in a day, but its events do unfold entirely on June 16, 1904. That day has come to be known as Bloomsday, after “Ulysses” protagonist Leo Bloom. In Joyce’s native Dublin, fans of the Irish author dress in Edwardian clothing, don bowler hats and participate in readings.  But you don’t have to go to Dublin to show your appreciation for Joyce and his unique perspective on commas. Here’s where to celebrate Bloomsday without leaving Lower Manhattan. 

Visit the Irish Hunger Memorial

We’ve praised the Hunger Memorial’s sneaky beauty recently, but any attempt to feel Irish in Manhattan should start with a visit to this half-acre hunk of rural countryside in Rockefeller Park. It’s built with native Irish flora and stones, serving as a lasting reminder of the deep connections between the Irish famine and immigration to New York City. 

Have a pint at Ulysses’ 

If you’re celebrating Bloomsday, you must check out the Stone Street spot named after the inspiration itself. The two-decades old Ulysses’ pub at 58 Stone St. is not only named after the book, it shares a theme with it: the restaurant’s founders were Irish and Greek, evoking how the characters in “Ulysses” take on a journey similar to that in Homer’s “Odyssey.” 

Read up on the classics at McNally Jackson

The Seaport outpost of this local independent chain, located at 4 Fulton St., is a contender for prettiest bookstore in the city.  It’s almost too easy to get lost in its stacks and its collection of Irish authors, including Joyce. It’s also a great place to pick up one of Joyce’s much more, let’s say, digestible reads, like “Dubliners,” if you’re Joyce-curious but not quite ready for the big leagues. 

Contemplate the magic of words at Poets House

Bloomsday celebrants  usually host a lot of readings, and a great place to gear up for that is the Poets House, which recently reopened after years of closure from flooding. The tree-surrounded space at 10 River Terrace was founded in 1985 and has grown to a 70,000-plus collection of poetry books, chapbooks and other related material that visitors can browse online and in-house. 

Do an Irish pub crawl 

In Dublin, Joyceans will be crawling to some of the actual pubs that Leo Bloom and the other characters pass in “Ulysses’,” but, with our neighborhood’s great collection of pubs of our own, you can certainly make your own version here. The Irish vibes run strong at places like Ryan Macquire’s, Monk McGinn’s, the Irish Punt, the Irish American and of course the Dead Rabbit

Take a romantic stroll

Joyce didn’t just randomly set “Ulysses” on June 16, 1904 — it was the real-life date on which he met his wife, Nora Barnacle. (Leo Bloom’s wife, Molly Bloom, is actually based on Barnacle.) Cap off your Bloomsday with a romantic stroll in Battery Park, along the Harbor or at the Seaport for some old-timey vibes. 

Tags: bloomsday

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