A Summer in Sandycove

Sam Astorga
June 17, 2017

While many students I came with have left weeks ago, I’m still here. I decided to stay in Dublin with the IES Abroad Irish studies program this summer. And to be frank, I am eternally grateful that I get to spend the rest of my summer in Ireland not only to avoid the 110 degree heat in L.A., but more importantly because I feel at home in Ireland, and of course, I get to celebrate Bloomsday.

Today is the  113th anniversary of the day James Joyce met his wife Nora Barnacle, and it is also the day James Joyce set his most famous work, Ulysses. It is called Bloomsday because the protagonist of the book is named Leopold Bloom. But to be frank, for me, this is like Christmas. Ulysses motivated my journey to Ireland. I wanted to experience Joyce’s Dublin and the island he fled from, myself.

But unlike Joyce, I did not find Ireland to be a land of “salt, green, death,” but I found it to be sweet, verdant, and lively. And I found this especially to be the case in Sandycove, the very place Ulysses begins! In fact, for the past three weeks I’ve been going to the James Joyce center at the Martello Sandycove attempting to learn what I can about Joyce and where he resided before he left Ireland.

But what I did not realize is that my volunteer work would entail giving tours with lifelong Dubliners and more importantly avid Joyceans. I suppose if you do what you love than it’s not work. I don’t consider it work because talking about all things Joyce, Ireland, and literature have been some of the best times I have had in Ireland.

And so throughout this whole week there have been Bloomsday celebrations, and I attended a performance of Molly Bloom’s monologue on Sunday and yesterday I attended a musical performance. In fact, they even made me perform a poem I made as a joke in honor of Bloomsday. And it went a little something like this:

Twas’ the night before Bloomsday,

and all through the house

frolicked Leopold

and his unfaithful spouse.

The kidneys were hung,

in the kitchen with care,

in hopes that young Stephen would be there.

Ballocky nestled so snug in his bed,

and black panthers danced in the English man's head.

I at my desk reading Stephen's chagrin

for his trials of pomposity were about to begin.

While everyone in Dublin so soundly slept,

Stephen was shot at and dearly wept.

If the quickest way to Tara is via Hollyhead,

perhaps Stephen should stayed in Sandycove instead.

So what shall we learn on the next day of June?

Well of course that one should not be Buck Mulligan's goon

But I think it's that this land is one of few,

and you can leave Dublin but it can't leave you.

So there's no point in running far away,

because one day on this island is where I'll stay

and have a house in Sandycove under dear Stephen's view.

So today, I shall bask in my holy book, sip on some tea, and write some pretentious stream of consciousness narration, as James Joyce would have wanted everyone to do. And I encourage anyone reading this to pick up some Joyce, or any book for that matter and read!

Since this is my final blog post, I would like to thank everyone that has helped and support me throughout my journey in Ireland from South Pasadena to Sligo to Sandycove. In a month an a half, I’ll be flying back to Los Angeles, and like Joyce I intend on living in exile, but I don’t think I can call Ireland exile when it makes such a nice home.

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Sam Astorga

<p>Greetings, welcome to my blog! My name is Sam, and I grew up in South Pasadena as well as books. I am majoring in history and minoring in Russian language at Occidental College, but I always dreamed of studying Irish history and literature. This semester I am going to attend the Trinity College Direct Transfer program.</p>

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