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RTÉ Celebrates 100 Years of James Joyce’s Ulysses



On February 2nd, 1922, Sylvia Beach published James Joyce’s Ulysses at a little bookshop in Paris – one hundred years ago. The book, which took 7 years of Joyce’s life to complete, would have a profound impact on our culture and literary world. No modern literature compares to Ulysses in terms of scope.

The 100th anniversary of the publication of James Joyce’s Ulysses will be marked by RTÉ with an extensive and ambitious programme of related content on television, radio, and online.

Commenting on the programme, Ann-Marie Power, Group Head, Arts and Culture, RTÉ said: ”I’m delighted to see such diversity of coverage across RTÉ to salute this important centenary. It reflects its endurance that a century later Ulysses continues to conjure fascinating new interpretations of itself, and new ways for us to see ourselves. 

“As a young man Joyce felt out of place in his country. The Ireland he determined to leave, wasn’t changing at the pace of his imagination. By the time Ulysses was published Joyce was forty. Ireland was grappling with its new status in the world, a precarious, compromised state of independence. Who would James Joyce’s equivalent be today? What would they be saying? Where would they be leaving and heading? RTÉ programming stimulates such questions. As we look back to Joyce and the world that he created and lived they are as provocative and relevant as ever.” 



100 Years of Ulysses 

(RTÉ One, 10.15pm, Thursday February 3rd) 

A new documentary devised by historian Frank Callanan and directed by Ruán Magan, sets out to unlock one of most impregnatable and explosive books of modern times. Featuring interviews with writers and scholars including Eimear McBride, Paul Muldoon, John McCourt and Margaret O Callaghan, illuminative archive film and photographs, newly commissioned art works by Jess Tobin, Brian Lalor and Holly Pereira and a beautiful original score by Natasa Paulberg, 100 Years of Ulysses promises to bring viewers on an enlightening journey into the heart of one of the most inspiring and influential novels and reveals how it remains as relevant today as it ever was. 

The documentary is dedicated to Frank Callanan who died in December 2021 – read an appreciation of Callanan’s life and work here. 


(RTÉ One, 7pm, Wednesday 2nd February) 

WhileUlysses was banned in the US and Britain until the 1930s; and right up to his death in 1941, Joyce was out of favour with the Irish establishment, these days, Bloomsday in Ireland is celebrated like a national holiday. Across the world, Ulysses is still the subject of continuous debate, obsession, and intrigue one hundred years on. 

Celebrating the novel’s enduring legacy, presenter Anne Cassin views the first ever printed copy of Ulysses with Katherine McSharry at MOLI (Museum of Literature Ireland); meets booker prize-winning author, Anne Enright who shares her thoughts on the famous book; visits the Joyce Tower in Sandycove to chat with one of the early curators, Vivien Igoe; and returns to Studio 9 in RTÉ with actor Patrick Dawson to hear about the marathon 30-hour radio dramatization which was broadcast in 1982. 

This special Nationwide programme will be produced by Ann Marie O Callaghan


Sunday Miscellany 

(RTÉ Radio 1, 9.10am, Sunday 30 January) 

Marking the centenary of Ulysses by James Joyce on Sunday Miscellany, Fran O’Rourke unearths a recording of Joyce’s favourite Greek song and Lorna Siggins traces Joyce’s footsteps in the French village of Saint-Gérand-le Puy, where the family lived from 1939-1940. Producer, Sarah Binchy 

Book on One (during Late Date) 

(RTÉ Radio 1, 11.20pm, Monday 31 January – Friday 4 February) 

Highlighting the worldwide significance and influence of James Joyce’s novel Ulysses on other writers, Book on One features the award-winning novel ‘the house on eccles road’ by Canadian writer Judith Kitchen. It is read by the author. In the novel it is June 16th, 1999, in Dublin, Ohio and it is Molly and Leo Bluhm’s wedding anniversary. They wake up together and go on to spend the day apart. Their life echoes that of Molly and Leopold Bloom, who in Ulysses lived at 7 Eccles Street, Dublin in Ireland, almost a century earlier in 1904. Judith Kitchen weaves an enthralling tapestry of a single day, an ordinary day, yet a day that might change the lives of Molly and Leo Bluhm forever. Producer, Clíodhna Ni Anluain 


(RTÉ Radio 1 – 7pm, Wednesday 2nd February) 

Arena broadcasts a special edition dedicated to Ulysses with contributors including Colm Toibín, Nuala O’Connor, Mary Costello, John Patrick McHugh and Catherine Flynn. 

Blue of the Night with Bernard Clarke 

(RTÉ lyric fm, 9pm – midnight, Wednesday 2nd February) 

Finnegans Wake – Suite of Affections is a new work from Roger Doyle who has composed musical settings for a selection of extracts from Finnegans Wake voiced by actors including Aiden Gillen, Barry McGovern, Olwen Fouéré and Thibaud Empey. Much as the text does, Doyle’s work moves between different styles and registers. Bernard Clarke plays selections from the album, which will be released later in February at the Centre Culturel Irlandais in Paris. Clarke also revisits an archive interview with Barry McGovern on Joyce’s use of music and song as a literary device within Ulysses. 

Opera Night 

(RTÉ lyric fm, 9pm, Saturday 5th February) 

James Joyce’s Chamber Music: The Lost Song Settings and the Story of an Intriguing Collaboration. To celebrate James Joyce’s 140th birthday & the centenary of the publication of Ulysses, Friends of the James Joyce Tower & Trilling Trilling Productions present a concert featuring for the first time in Ireland, Geoffrey Molyneux Palmer’s settings of Joyce’s Chamber Music with Dean Power (tenor), Mairéad Hurley (piano) & Susie Kennedy (narrator). 

In 1907, the year of its publication, Palmer wrote to Joyce asking permission to set some poems from Chamber Music. Joyce enthusiastically received the ten songs he was sent and wrote: “I hope you will set all of Chamber Music in time” and “I shall be glad to hear from you and to know that your delicate music is meeting at last with the appreciation it deserves”. Joyce tried to arrange publication of the songs on several occasions, but Palmer was hesitant, and it never happened. 

Born in Staines in 1882 (the same year as Joyce), Palmer moved to Ireland in 1910 and lived in Sandycove with his sisters who ran the Rathdown School in Glenageary. The songs seemed to have been lost until a researcher Myra Teichel Russel found them at Southern Illinois University, Carbondale in 1981. She discovered that after Palmer’s death in 1957, a Joyce collector Dr Harley Croessmann bought the Chamber Music manuscripts from his sisters for $56. He eventually gave them to Carbondale. Russel published the songs in 1993.  


RTÉ’s Ulysses at 100 – James Joyce Celebrated offers a brilliant opportunity to delve into all things Joycean. Its vast offering includes Caitriona Balfe and Stephen Rea reading excerpts of Joyce’s writing, new writing inspired by Ulysses from Mary Costello, Ian Maleney, Joseph O’Connor, Nuala O’Connor; documentaries about his family including Lucia Joyce as well as the places that feature in Ulysses. This year-round constantly growing curated site also includes RTÉ’s ever-popular marathon 30-hour radio dramatization of Ulysses, first broadcast in 1982, the centenary of the birth of Joyce.