Lovers of literature in Dublin next week will be spoiled for choice of things to do on Bloomsday, the annual celebration of James Joyce‘s Ulysses. As well as the usual Bloomsday breakfasts, walking tours, and readings — including one in which the present writer in a moment of poor judgment volunteered to participate — there will be free screenings of Joycean films at the Irish Film Institute. Shem the Penman Sings Again and Medicated Milk will be screened on Thursday, June 16th, with both events followed by a Q&A with the films’ directors, Padraig Treahy and Áine Stapleton.
Shem the Penman Sings Again is a new exploration of the real-life friendship between Joyce and Irish tenor, John McCormack. McCormack inspires the character of Shaun the Post in Joyce’s famously ‘unreadable’ final novel Finnegans Wake, in which Joyce portrayed himself as Shaun’s lowly twin brother, Shem. Medicated Milk is a portrait of James Joyce’s daughter, Lucia. Lucia was a talented dancer, writer and musician who spent her life under the control of her father, her family and multiple doctors. Of course, the cinema and Joyce have a strong connection (see video below): he opened Ireland’s first-ever movie theatre, the Volta. The screenings are free but ticketed. For more information, visit the Irish Film Institute website.