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Caidreamh Ollscoile UCD

Joseph O'Connor

James Joyce. Yes. Happy Birthbloom. Yes. And the people who like him, they gather to bless, and come mess, and indeed they Yes, I confess. And he wrote in the stream of consciousness, Yes, where you don’t say ‘Your woman did this and then left,’ or ‘Your man moseys in and says he to the room,’ but Bloom, that’s the hero, you’re inside his head, and you’re sailing the seas of his marital bed, or wherever you’re led, by the thoughts that go drifting and shifting in his Yes, as he saunters the city of Yes. And he glancing at motts, and he getting the hots, and he looking at the sky with his roving aye-aye, and he bumps into neighbours, performing his labours, all on a Dublin daze. 

And the words like birds. Confetti-fall of language. And the slang and the Yes and the porter in the taps. And the Sandycove talk. And the Sandymount walk. And the sandwich and a jar. In Davy Byrne’s bar. And his memories mingle and jingle in his pocket and tinkle old songs of the Yes. And the day does be boiling like Blazes. Yes. And the bells and the smells and the apples and the chapels and the hope and the sweet Lemon soap. And Stephen, who don’t be believing in God, but here at the end he encounters a friend, in the kips where the lips of the ladies of the night do be calling like summertime sirens.
And what’s the book about? Well, itself, I suppose. And yourself and myself and herself down the road. All you lads and all you lasses. Ulysses. His missus. See, she’s called Molly.

At home in her bed and there’s thoughts in her head, and some of them shrewd and some of them rude, and some of them flirty and some downright Yes and food for the forehead in a novel he borrowed called Sweets of Sin or something. 

Soliloquy. Yes. Beautiful word. Like ‘solitary’ and ‘eloquent’ got married. Yes. Funny thought. Yes. If words could fall in love. Well, think of the children they’d have. Yes. Like Norah met Jimmy, their wedding so jolly. Kind of a silly. Yes. Symmetry. Cemetery. Paddy Dignam dead. And up to Glasnevin, and maybe to heaven, and Leopold thinking his thoughts. Yes. In his carriage. Thinking of his marriage. And the city roils around him, the noise and the boys and they selling the papers and thinking up capers, and gougers and gutties and bantams and phantoms, and moonfruit and mirth, and mothers giving birth, and Bloom such a darling auld dear. 

Well it’s many a year. Since sweet baby James. And his town is grown up to a right old hames for lately there’s a sadness and a madness in the Yes, see they buggered us up, they’re a pack of greedy Yes, and I’d give them a root up the Yes for themselves and Yes, there’s a mess, there’s no point in denial, but James would remind you, through trouble and trial, there’s things to be proud of, still Yes. Him, yes. More the people we love. Or a novel you read, or a redweathered moon, or something was said in your kitchen. Or walking on his birthday through Stephen’s Green in the Yes of the Yes of the Yes. James Joyce, yes. That’s what it means. A book worth a look for the secret it tells. We can walk from the tomb. And we still might bloom. For the very last word will be Yes.   


Joseph O'Connor is the winner of the Irish PEN Award for Literature, 2012. His stage adaptation of Daphne du Maurier's novel My Cousin Rachel opens at Dublin's Gate Theatre on April 12th.

Joseph O'Connor - Happy Birthbloom