Utica Celebrates Bloomsday 2018 on Varick Street – By Sue Romero

July 2, 2018

UTICA NY – “Sign me up for next year!”

A merry band of pub crawlers dressed in bright green T-shirts could be seen making their way from pub to pub on Varick Street in Utica, NY, on June 16. Joining James Joyce fans around the world that day, we had gathered to retrace (in a metaphorical way) the path of Joyce’s fictional character Leopold Bloom just as he strolled the streets of Dublin in the novel Ulysses.

The Utica Bloomsday Pub Crawl included stops at four pubs and the Irish Cultural Center of the Mohawk Valley, which is under construction.

Our group of about 60 started out at Utica Brews Cafe where we received our shirts and goodie bags containing round wire-frame glasses, much like the ones James Joyce used to wear, as well as candies and our passports which would serve as our program for the day and our door prize tickets.

Then we were off to Saranac Brewery’s 1888 Tavern where Mark Sisti put the pub crawl into context for us with a bit of history about James Joyce, Ulysses, and the tradition of Bloomsday pub crawls. The musicians of our own Craobh Dugan set the mood with traditional Irish tunes, and a group of costumed Craobh Dugan dancers performed traditional steps. The musicians and dancers travelled along with us performing at each of the stops.

After that we stopped at Nail Creek Pub and enjoyed the sunny day out on the porch while we heard Herkimer College professor Matt Powers give a rousing reading from Ulysses. Powers is director of the Little Falls Theater (LiFT) and founder of a new dramatic podcast called The Brass Lantern.

Next we were off to see the amazing progress that’s been made on the Irish Cultural Center. Last year, we saw steel framing and samples of the stone that would be used to cover its outside walls. This year we were able to walk upstairs where we saw the rooms taking shape and the many windows installed allowing plenty of light into the very generous amount of space that will soon be home to Irish cultural events. The stone now covers most of the outside of the building. The center’s owner and developer Vaughn Lang joined us there in a champagne toast.

Then we gathered at Lukin’s Brick Oven Pizza. Its stylish industrial design served as a pleasant backdrop to poet Tom Townsley’s reading from Ulysses. Tom, who teaches English at Mohawk Valley Community College, has recently published a book of poetry called Night Class for Insomniacs.

Finally we made our way over to the Celtic Harp Irish Pub where we heard the multi-talented actor, writer, musician, and teacher Ann Carey give a spine-tingling performance of the final reading of the day: Molly’s Soliloquy.

Several members of the pub crawl won delightful door prizes, and everyone said they had a wonderful time and are looking forward to the third annual Utica Bloomsday Pub Crawl, tentatively set for June 15, 2019.

We would like to thank our many generous donors who helped make the day such a grand success, including: The venues (Utica Brews Cafe & Pub, Saranac Brewery, Nail Creek Pub & Brewery, Irish Cultural Center of the Mohawk Valley, Lukin’s Brick Oven Pizza, The Celtic Harp Irish Pub & Restaurant); door prize donors (The Great American Irish Festival, University of California Press, The Blarney Rebel Band); music and door prizes (Craobh Dugan); James Joyce eye glasses (Wilcor); portable sound system (Big Apple Music) and the T-shirt and passport designs and event promotion (Green Pencil Content).

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