Bloomsday walking tour this Sunday
Historian Ruth Illingworth is holding a walking tour this Sunday, June 16, to mark Bloomsday and James Joyce’s association with Mullingar.
One of the fathers of modern literature, Joyce spent a considerable amount of time in Mullingar in 1900 and 1901. His father John had been employed by the council to update the electoral register. It is believed that James worked with his father, who was based in the courthouse.
Ms Illingworth’s tour will follow in the footsteps of Joyce and take people to some of the local buildings and sites featured in his writings including the Greville Arms, Mullingar Railway Station and Caffrey’s Bar.
Other places that young Joyce is known to have visited during his stays in Mullingar include the Hill of Uisneach, which he describes in Finnegan’s Wake as the “mountainy mole hill” and Levington Park, which later became the home of another acclaimed artist, JP Donleavy.
The Westmeath Examiner is also mentioned in his writings. Ms Illingworth believes that the paper struck a chord with the writer as it was established in 1882, the year of his birth.
“He never forgot the town and that can be seen as it’s there in his writings,” she said.
It’s believed that Joyce lived in the Pearse Street building that’s now home to Fagan’s Office Supplies. The building was then owned by the photographer Phil Shaw and is where Leopold Bloom’s daughter Millie worked in the ground breaking novel.
Unlike many writers whose work goes out of fashion, Joyce’s status in the literary world has continued to grow since his death in 1941.
The tour will begin in the Market Square at 3pm on Sunday.