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Picturing Joyce at the European People's Festival

Updated: Nov 4, 2022

I first imagined including James Joyce in the Irish cultural show of the European People's Festival, when we had the last festival in Portugal in 2019 but I didn't imagine that it would have been green lit with such enthusiam.

Carmel Duffy and Morgan Fagg at the start of the parade

The Irish team co-ordinator Carmel Duffy immediately suggested not only that we could include Ulysses in this year's act but that we could incorporate a little Bloomsday style while doing it.

The European People's Festival was celebrating 30 years this year and it seemed right to include Ulysses' centenary, especially the costumes as part of the festival includes a parade at the start of the festival which ideally includes some kind of traditional dress.

Our German neighbours from Badsegberg for example dress like cowboys and Indians, and honour the German writer Karl May who wrote westerns that were popular in Germany.

They have a fantastic Karl May show in Badsegberg with live action cowboy and Indian fights in an amphitheatre setting that includes explosions and burning horse drawn carriages.

I hope the Irish delegation appreciated the Joyce themed suggestions, and hopefully we will be able to include Joyce at the heart of future cultural shows.

BACKSTAGE: Irish dancers and singers before the winning Cultural Show.

Supporting our efforts, UNESCO City of Literature supplied over a 100 beautiful booklets by At It Again which we were able to give out at the Irish stand, Tourism Ireland in Madrid also gave generously by supplying plenty of UNESCO pens, Bloomsday maps and some much appreciated Bloomsday hats, which we were able to incorporate in the show.

I'm a big fan of the At It Again, Romping Through Ulysses guide books which is part of their Romping through Irish literature series and I hope others will enjoy them too, and it is also worth checking out Romping Through Dracula, and Romping Through Dorian Gray. I must complete their collection with Romping Through Gulliver's Travels, as soon as I finish my own travels.

It was very hot for the parade and Cultural Show but I loved bringing Joyce to the festival and I believe, we might have left a little of Joyce, Ulysses and Bloomsday behind in Luxembourg, as I finished the festival two days after the rest of the delegation, with a picnic with some of the Luxembourg volunteers in the nearby forests.

After a week of talking about Joyce and Ulysses with the Luxembourg volunteers, we even wore those boater hats one last time, as we celebrated a Bloomsday style birthday with Tamya Saransig.

Thanks to Tamya and her sister Sayla, and all their family and friends, for making us feel so welcome in Schifflange, again.

Supported by

UNESCO City of Literature

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