James Joyce’ Ulysses & Howth Head
Howth has and hopefully always will be a source of inspiration and creativity for those that find themselves drawn here.
This we can say because of the extensive list of famous visitors that have made it so. We’re lucky in that our location does not entice a niche audience – because we’ve found that it’s popular among musicians, writers and artists alike.
One of these being Ireland’s most accomplished novelists, James Joyce. Much can be said for Joyce’s love of Dublin’s streets, but it seems our particular seaside suburbia managed to capture him just as much. Ulysses is known for being ‘reading bucket-list’ material. Yes its size is daunting, but no you don’t have to be a genius to tackle it. We can vouch for that! Joyce’s work is known for being lyrical and entirely sensual which is why you have to give it a go. Especially considering that it’s set on the very paths that most of us often take.
Ulysses is based on Homer’s the Odyssey so one would expect that perilous seas and stunning seascapes would feature, and Joyce certainly doesn’t disappoint. The Odyssey, one of the most epic Greek poems, demonstrates how life is difficult and to get through it is to survive the hardships and get past the obstacles. James Joyce strives to do the same, through a more realistic, intimate and mundane lens wherein Ulysses centers on Leopold Bloom, the son of a Hungarian Jew turned protestant father and Irish protestant mother. Ulysses, in spite of its size, tells the tale of Bloom’s conventional odyssey throughout the course of one day; the 16th of June – which is now celebrated in Irish culture as ‘Bloomsday’.
Howth is mentioned more than once in Ulysses – and demonstrates how clearly appreciative he is of our beautiful peninsula. Ulysses differs a lot from other novels of its time because of its interesting narrative. One of the aspects being that the book is finished through a female perspective – specifically Molly Bloom, Leopold’s wife. Although she has been cheating on him, Joyce establishes her as someone to be sympathetic of, because the relationship between Molly and Leopold is somewhat synonymous to the relationship Joyce had with his own wife. Howth is where Leopold first proposed to Molly, and Howth is where the book ends with Molly remembering why she loves him. Without spoiling anything, this is just one of the trials that Leopold has to face, and this somewhat optimistic resolution ensues that the odyssey, the journey of life has been worthwhile.
“…the sun shines for you he said the day we were lying among the rhododendrons on Howth Head in the grey tweed suit and his straw hat the day I got him to propose to me yes”
James Joyce always said that if Dublin dropped off the face of the earth, we would be able to rebuild it using only his book Ulysses and you’ll see why when you read it. We’re so happy that Howth has been immortalized in one of the greatest works of the literary world, and you should too. Every year on the 16th of June, thousands of Ulysses fans gather in Dublin to celebrate and commemorate the life of Leopold Bloom, and some even flock out to our little peninsula to visit the rhododendrons and see what it is about Dublin’s vista that fascinated Joyce.
Howth is packed full of culture and if you haven’t already, you really must make some time to come out and visit us. Regardless of our small size, we’re loaded with history, heritage, and tradition and as you’ve probably seen it’s a huge source of inspiration to those in the arts.
When coming to Howth, be sure to book in with the Howth Seafood Shuffle and try some of the best seafood Ireland has to offer. A guaranteed enriching experience that only Howth can provide.