The invitation illustration for Tuesday’s celebration of WB Yeats and James Joyce at Dupont Circle in Washington, D.C. The image was the winning entry in a competition organized by the Irish Embassy, and is the work of Barrie Maguire.
By Ray O’Hanlon
The cultural world is this week saluting William and James.
And though the celebration is centered in Ireland, it has nothing to do with the protagonists at the Battle of the Boyne.
Rather, the William and James on the minds of so many around the globe are William Butler Yeats and James Joyce.
The 150th anniversary of the birth of the former has been observed in recent days while Tuesday will see Bloomsday celebrations in many countries in honor of James Joyce.
Much of the celebrating, as it always is, will be in the United States.
And this year, in addition to the many gatherings and events in cities such as New York, there will be an especially significant celebration of both Yeats and Joyce in the nation’s capital.
On Bloomsday, Tuesday June 16, there will be a lunchtime open air public concert at Dupont Circle, from 12.30 to 1.30 p.m., featuring music and readings from the works of Joyce and Yeats.
The event is being organized by the Irish Embassy.
“We are encouraging people to join us for a lunchtime picnic as we recreate a typical Bloomsday event. There will even be bike riders in Edwardian dress,” said an embassy statement.
The readings at Dupont Circle will be by Gregory Baker, Assistant Professor of English, Director of Irish Studies Catholic University of America; Christopher Griffin, Professor of English, George Washington University; Coilin Owens, Professor Emeritus, English Department, George Mason University, and Fionnuala Quinn, organizer of the annual Washington D.C. Bloomsday Bike Rally.
Music is being provided by John Feeley, Ireland’s leading classical guitarist, and Fran O’Rourke, a singer and professor of philosophy at University College Dublin, who will perform a selection of music related to Joyce and Yeats.
Both are also performing at an evening event at the Cosmos Club being hosted by Ireland’s Ambassador to the U.S., Anne Anderson.
Congressman Richard Neal, Senator Ed Markey and Deputy National Security Advisor, Ben Rhodes, will read two Yeats poems each.
Terry Cross-Davis of the Folger Shakespeare Library will do a reading from “Ulysses.”
In addition, a short play involving an encounter between Yeats and Joyce has been written for the evening event by Joe Hassettt, an attorney and Yeats scholar.
Thoor Ballylee, the Gort, County Galway 16th-century Hiberno-Norman tower house, once owned by Yeats, will reopen this summer following a donation of €30,000 from Mr. Hassett.