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Bloomsday in Bruff Festival ' seventh year       printable version
03 Jun 2015: posted by the editor - Events, Local, Arts

By Donal Thurlow
On 16 June, Bloomsday, just under two weeks away, the small town of Bruff will celebrate its seventh annual Bloomsday in Bruff Festival.

The festival has developed an eclectic and original approach to its celebration. One interesting Limerick aspect is the link between Bruff and the City, and James Joyce and George Clancy, the mayor of Limerick murdered by the Black and Tans in 1920. Clancy was one of Joyce's few close friends at UCD and the character of Madden/Davin in Portrait of the Artist is is based on Clancy. Each year this friendship is remembered by the placing of a commemorative wreath at a wall plaque on the main street of Bruff. This year it is quite appropriate that the wreath will be laid by the Mayor of Limerick City and County, Michael Sheahan. The Mayor will be joined by Bruff's own Mary Harvey, star of stage and screen for the official opening The festival starts with a re-enactment of one of the most court cases in the history of literature.

The United States v. One Book Called Ulysses was a 1933 case in the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York dealing with freedom of expression. At issue was whether James Joyce's novel Ulysses was obscene. In deciding it was not, Judge John M. Woolsey opened the door to importation and publication of serious works of literature that used coarse language or involved sexual subjects.

The trial court's decision was upheld by the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, which confirmed that offensive language in a literary work is not obscene where it does not promote lust. But Judge Woolsey's trial court opinion is now more widely known, and often cited as an erudite and discerning affirmation of literary free expression. The reenactment will take place in the Old Court House in Bruff, itself an important building in the history of legal precedent. It was in this building that the right of the accused to have legal representation was established.

John Pinschmidt, a published poet with Revival Press, will take on the part Judge John M Woolsey.

The Bruff Festival is always an interesting blend of aspects of the work of James Joyce and this year is looking interesting. There will be the usual readings from the works of Joyce, ranging from Portrait of the Artist to Finnegan's Wake, with dramatic portrayals of some of the readings. There will be the showing of a short film which is a modern interpretation of the short story, Two Gallants from Dubliners.

Another published Limerick poet, Evelyn Casey will be reading from one of the most famous soliloquies in any novel. This is of course the tempestuous outpouring from Molly Bloom that brings Ulysses to a conclusion.

Talks will include topics such as the Cyclops episode, which is based on the character of Michael Cusack founder of the GAA (with a dramatic re-enactment), Dubliners with an emphasis on Two Gallants (the showing of a modern film interpretation of the Two Gallants story, a Munster Premier)

Some important artefacts connected with both Joyce and Clancy will be on display in Bruff for the first time, including the wonderful copy of the Joyce death ask from The Hunt Museum. The day starts at 11.00 am on 16 June at the Courthouse in Bruff , renamed the Thomas Fitzgerald Centre, following the visit of Caroline Kennedy last year.

There will be some interesting guest readers and actors on the day and they range from young exciting poets and actors from Limerick to others who will join the Mayor as he represents the City and County. Paul Casey from Cork City, O’bheal poetry group and Dominic Taylor from The Limerick Writers' Centre will also be making appearances on the day.

There will of course be the usual and traditional Joycean breakfast, as well as a concert to bring the day to a close. The line up for the concert is still growing and will include representatives from Limericks well know group Wild Oats, the outstanding Fergus Costello, and so many more. The final line up for the concert will be announced on Friday. The people of Bruff are already getting their outfits ready and hope that readers will travel to Bruff and join them for a day of Joycean words, music, drama, film and Joycean food from a Joycean Breakfast, through Afternoon Tea and Dublin Coddle in the evening. 

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