The annual celebration of James Joyce’s Ulysses could become another much-needed national Irish holiday.
That’s according to People Before Profit TD Richard Boyd Barrett, who said Ireland has less public and statutory holidays than the European average.
“Austria has 13 bank holidays, Sweden has 13, Greece has 12, France has 11,” he told The Hard Shoulder. “Ireland has 10, and that’s only because the Government was pushed after COVID.”
Deputy Boyd Barrett said studies show when people are not “worked to the bone”, they are more productive in the workplace, so businesses should not have economic objections to more public holidays.
“The countries I mentioned, there's absolutely no indication more holidays are having worse economic effects,” he said. “They’re doing better economically.”
June 16th marks Bloomsday, a day of commemoration to the author James Joyce and his book 1922 Ulysses, which takes place on June 16th, 1904.
Deputy Boyd Barrett said Bloomsday would make an ideal public holiday to celebrate a milestone in Irish literature.
“Ulysses is an epic of the ordinary people of Dublin and the world,” he said. “[Joyce] is giving voice to people who are excluded - workers, women, minorities. He's challenging all conventions.”
He said Ulysses is “directly intertwined with the revolutionary movement” of Ireland while also including minorities often ignored in Irish literature, including the Jewish protagonist Leopold Bloom.
"One of the messages I think Joyce is sending is, if we're fighting for the liberation of Irish people who have been oppressed by the British Empire, we also need to identify with other minority groups,” he said.
Deputy Boyd Barrett said this novel that celebrates Ireland serves as a strong tourism opportunity that should be used to create a public holiday.
“Just think how much tourism we get into this country, how much interest there is internationally in this country because of our literary tradition,” he said.
“Precisely because of people like Joyce, Yeats, Shaw, Samuel Beckett and Oscar Wilde.
“That's a huge part of Ireland's international reputation - I see nothing wrong with it being the occasion for a public holiday and break for people.”
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