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A host of celebrities turned out to the Irish Embassy in London yesterday to celebrate a special Bloomsday breakfast, the day that commemorates James Joyce’s classic Ulysses.
Dermot O’Leary, Cerys Matthews, Angeline Ball, Tamsin Greig, Colin Sammon, Lisa Dwan and Aisling Bea were among the line-up who took part, which also celebrated WB Yeats, as the 150th anniversary of his birthday falls this year.
June 16 is the day in the life of Ulysses‘ main character Leopold Bloom, as he experiences Dublin. Like the book itself, breakfast was a good way to start the celebrations hosted by Ambassador Dan Mulhall and his wife Greta.
Irish sausages, soda bread and Clonakility black pudding were on the menu, and O’Leary, whose family hail from Wexford, recited Yeats’ The Stolen Child.
The event celebrated this important day in Irish literature and this year it was combined with a salute to the work of W B Yeats, as the 150th anniversary of his birth is being marked.
Ireland’s Ambassador to Britain, Dan Mulhall started proceeding with a lively reading from the Cyclops chapter in Ulysses. A special rendition of Yeats’s ‘Down by the Salley Gardens’ was performed by Cerys Matthews who proclaimed her love of Irish culture and Tamsin Greig highlighted her deep connection with Ireland, as she grew up in Kilburn. Angeline Ball brought a fitting end to any Bloomsday celebrations with Molly Bloom’s Soliloquy.
Ambassador Dan Mulhall, thanking all the artists, said: “W.B. Yeats and James Joyce are two iconic pillars of Ireland’s proud literary heritage. Their work is loved over the world and it is fitting that these literary anniversaries are so celebrated. It is fantastic to have such a great group bringing the work of Joyce and Yeats to life here at the Embassy.”
The full line-up and what they performed is below. Londoners will also have an opportunity to see more Yeats as part of Yeats 150 and Irish poetry in the coming weeks as it is featured in the Tube as part of Poems on the Underground.