Consulate General of Ireland in Shanghai celebrates writer James Joyce
An important Irish traditional festival commemorating the renowned writer James Joyce, Bloomsday, which falls on June 16 every year, has been celebrated in Shanghai by the Consulate General of Ireland for 14 years, with more and more Chinese joining in.
This year, the Irish consulate invited guests for a one-hour cruise along the Huangpu River in Lujiazui area. Different sections of the boat were decorated according to the scenes described in Joyce’s influential book Ulysses: the Joyce Gallery, Davy Byrne’s Pub, Mollys Parlour and Sandymount Strand.
The activity attracted about 150 people, including Irish Joyce experts and musicians, members of the local Irish expat community and Chinese literary experts and fans of Joyce. Many were encouraged to dress up in vintage clothes. Straw boater hats, a featured Bloomsday item, lightened up the festive atmosphere. Two guests won the Bloomsday fashion prize for the best Joycian-themed outfit.
Guests were also able to enjoy the riverside scenery as the boat journeyed through the heart of Shanghai. Some read aloud excerpts from Joyce’s stream of consciousness writing in Ulysses, which is a fixed traditional program of the festival.
A mutual friendship
Bloomsday is named after Leopold Bloom, the hero in Ulysses. It celebrates June 16, 1904, the single day in the novel that depicts the life and thoughts of Bloom and other characters between 8 am through the following morning. Bloomsday is celebrated in many countries and includes readings, performances, vintage-style costumes and visiting places which resemble the places described in the famous book.
Therese Healy, Consul General of Ireland in Shanghai, said at the event that she hopes the activity will help Chinese people to know more about Irish literature and history and deepen the mutual understanding and friendship between the Irish and China.
Noel O’Grady, a Joyce expert and singer, shared with the audience the importance of music and songs to Joyce, stories about how some of his songs were introduced as well how Nora, Joyce’s wife, inspired Joyce in his life and works. He told the Global Times that Joyce himself had a beautiful, heart-breaking and unforgettable voice.
Moon in my heart
O’Grady also has a keen interest in Chinese culture, especially Chinese songs. After performing some excerpts from his one-man show “Ode to James Joyce: Portrait of a Tenor,” he also sang the famous Chinese song “The moon representing my heart” (Yueliang Daibiao Wo De Xin) in Chinese.
O’Grady told the Global Times that he loves the idea that people from different parts of the world are all looking up at the same moon. He thinks the analogy “the moon representing my heart” is a good expression for friendship and relationships. Moreover, some of Joyce’s works include images of the moon.
Liu Shiyu, a Chinese student majoring in English translation at Beijing Foreign Studies University, read an excerpt of Episode 1 of Ulysses together with her teachers and classmates at the event. This was her first time celebrating Bloomsday.
Liu told Global Times that her teacher has been leading them to work on the translation of Joyce’s works for almost one year. “The activity provides with us a chance to get close to the life and work of Joyce in a more relaxing way,” she said, adding that it made the obscure work more vivid and easier to understand.
Main: Performers at the event Clockwise from left: Therese Healy, Consul General of Ireland in Shanghai, delivering a speech; Guests at the event; Noel O’Grady performs at the event. Winners of the Bloomsday fashion prize