Okay, truth time: how many non-Irish non-English majors have actually read James Joyce’s epic monster, Ulysses? The book, which takes place entirely on June 16th, 1904, is considered to be one of the greatest English-language novels ever written, covering a day in the life of one Leopold Bloom, Dubliner. Every June 16th for the past fifty years or so, the Irish and literature lovers around the world have celebrated Bloomsday with Ulysses readings and (drunken) merriment. It’s like St. Patrick’s Day, but with the patina of culture!
Here in Chicago, your Bloomsday celebratory options are myriad, so let’s lay out one possible scenario:
1) The Irish American Heritage Center in the far reaches of Irving Park is hosting a Bloomsday reading, with music, tonight at 8pm. Tickets are $10 at the door.
2) Pub time! Northwest Side, please:
• The Abbey Pub has great Irish bar snacks like Curry Fries ($3.95), or if you want something more filling, a Curried Chicken Pie ($8.95) would fit the bill. And if you think curry isn’t indigenous to Ireland, think again.
• Chief O’Neill’s Pub is famous for its Irish cuisine, and its menu is more oriented toward the Emerald Isle than most so-called Irish pubs. Try a cup of Guinness & Cheddar Soup ($4) and a full pound of braised lamb shank with root vegetables ($16.95), and don’t regret a minute of it — your arteries will forgive you in your next life
• Galvin’s Public House has the virtue of being relatively nearby the IAHC on Lawrence and Austin. Other virtues include their all-day service of traditional Irish Breakfast, with two eggs, two bangers, two rashers, black & white pudding, grilled tomato, Irish beans, fries & toast for $8.50. Of course, “all day” ends at 9pm when the kitchen closes, so use your time wisely.
3) Stumble to bed, promising yourself that this is the year you’ll finally read Ulysses.
[Photo: a James Joyce-themed Irish pub in suburban Atlanta of all places, via tmac0381/flickr]