Irish Literature festival Bloomsday comes to Derry and Donegal but in a new way

Dame Harriet Walter, Siobhán McSweeney, Fiona Shaw, Eve Hewson and Adjoa Andoh.Dame Harriet Walter, Siobhán McSweeney, Fiona Shaw, Eve Hewson and Adjoa Andoh.
Dame Harriet Walter, Siobhán McSweeney, Fiona Shaw, Eve Hewson and Adjoa Andoh.
This year, for the first time, Bloomsday, the annual celebration of James Joyce and his masterpiece Ulysses, will become Molly Bloomsday as it spreads north of the border from Dublin for a spectacular all-women inaugural event in Derry and Donegal.

More than 30 female artists and performers from across Europe will converge on Northern Ireland for YES, a new, free festival of female creativity inspired by Joyce’s most famous female character, Molly Bloom.

Among the many highlights of YES will be the world premiere of The Molly Films, a new cinematic suite giving a fresh presentation of a literary masterpiece and featuring a cast of some of the UK and Ireland’s finest actors, including Dame Harriet Walter, Fiona Shaw, Adjoa Andoh, Siobhán McSweeney and Eve Hewson. Each actress will take one of the eight mammoth ‘sentences’ which form the closing episode of Ulysses, famously known as Molly's Soliloquy.

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Each year, on June 16, the day on which Ulysses is set, ‘Bloomsday’ celebrations take place in Dublin and across the world, with readings, performances and any amount of costumed revellers hailing Joyce and the book’s central character, Leopold Bloom. This year, as 16 June becomes Molly Bloomsday for the first time, artists and audiences will take part in an epic YES finale.

YES The Future: A female version.YES The Future: A female version.
YES The Future: A female version.

From 8am on Sunday June 16 to 2am on Monday June 17, an 18-hour cultural Joycean journey across Derry and Donegal will see Ulysses’ Dublin scenes re-interpreted across the compelling and evocative urban and rural scenery of Ireland’s north-west. Molly Bloomsday will be a glorious reimagining of Bloomsday in the city’s streets, bars, historic Guildhall Square and walls and the beaches and coastline of Donegal.

A freewheeling day of literature, music, food, film, conversation, performance, song and surprises, decorated with folklore, mythology and Irish history, Molly Bloomsday will begin at 8am with breakfast at Donegal’s Iron-Age sun-fort An Grianán of Aileach with a dramatic backdrop of the estuary of Lough Swilly sweeping northwards into the Atlantic Ocean; it will take in the spectacular beach at Lisfannon (known in Irish as ‘Lios Feannáin’), before heading into the city for a packed day and evening of events, culminating in late-night music with Miss Trouli from Athens at the City Taphouse before a final stumble home at 2am the next day. As in the novel, at dawn (4.48am) the final event of Molly Bloomsday will be the global digital release of The Molly Films.

Among the highlights of YES: The Molly Bed, a large-scale interactive public installation, with a digital screen as headboard conveying messages by women from around the world in Ebrington Square.

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An unprecedented and exhilarating event on Derry’s 17th century walls will bring together eight parading bands from both traditions, all playing and parading and providing an immense city soundtrack.

O Rocks! a concert of music, conversation and poetry by one of Ireland’s most celebrated artists of recent years, Imelda May.

From June 13-16 2024, Derry will be alive with dance, music, food, public art, literature, conversation and spectacle, culminating in an epic 18-hour finale transposing the famed Dublin locations of Ulysses to new places north of the Irish border.

For details of all events and to book tickets, please visit: www.yesderry.com

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