Ireland Meets Quebec

in Words and Music 

To rewatch this event on Youtube, click here!

On November 14, 2021, Bloomsday Montreal was delighted to present an afternoon of words and music from Ireland and  Quebec. A cultural event celebrating the deep rooted connections of people, heritage, and traditions. 

Novelist Suzanne Aubry read excerpts from her popular Fanette series and translator Martina  Branagan read the same passages in English with snatches of Irish. 

The Swindlers, a versatile Montreal-based acoustic folk band, played selections to enhance and  dramatize the readings. 

The saga of Fanette—born Fionnuala O’Brennan in Skibbereen, Ireland, orphaned, then cast up on  the shores of Quebec—is something of a publishing phenomenon. It spans nine volumes and has  sold well over 100,000 copies. It’s historical fiction at its best. Bursting with unforgettable  characters, jam-packed with hardship, heroism, and romance, it tells the tale of the plucky young  Irish famine orphan whose deep blue eyes, fierce intelligence, and winning ways ease her rise from beggary to the bourgeoisie within the grey stone walls of 19th century Quebec City. 

Ottawa native, Suzanne Aubry, graduated from the National Theatre School in playwriting. Her novel Ma vie est entre tes mains was a finalist for the Five continents of la Francophonie prize in 2016. In addition to the multi-volume  Fanette series, she has published four more novels and a collection of legends: Le Violon magique. As dramatist and  screenwriter she has had several stage plays produced and written for many of Quebec’s most popular TV series. She  has been president of the Quebec Writers’ Union (UNEQ) since 2017. (photo credit: Audrée Wilhelmy) 

Martina Branagan, fluent in English, French, and Irish, is a marketing, communications, and translation consultant. She holds a BA from Trinity College, Dublin, an MA from St. Patrick’s College, Maynooth, Ireland, and a postgraduate diploma in marketing. She is the editor of Nuacht, the St. Patrick’s Society of Montreal’s newsletter. Martina has translated the first two novels in the Fanette series. 

The books are available for download from Chapters-Indigo. 

The Swindlers, headed by fiddler Jonathan Moorman, play and sing in a variety of folk traditions. In demand in and around Montreal for concerts and private events, they are  releasing a new album, Busted, in December. 

Praise for Fanette 

« Page essentielle de notre histoire que nous sommes invités à parcourir à travers cette touchante histoire d’amour non dépourvue d’obstacles. » Voir « Les émotions, le désir d’ascension sociale, l’aspiration au bonheur, à l’amour et à la sécurité qui donnent corps aux protagonistes de Fanette font que l’on peut difficilement se dissocier du livre, et tout particulièrement du sort de la jeune héroïne, petite Irlandaise aux yeux foncés dont la famille affamée fuira son pays natal en quête de cieux plus fastes. » Nuit Blanche 

“A foundational page of our history to discover through an enchanting love story fraught with obstacles… Emotions, the desire for advancement, the search for happiness, love, and security bring the characters in Fanette so vividly to life that they stay in your mind, especially the fate of the young heroine, a dark-eyed Irish girl whose starving family fled their native land in search of brighter skies.” NUIT BLANCHE 

And for the most recent addition to the series 

« Sept ans après avoir publié le 7e et supposément le dernier tome de cette magnifique saga historique, Suzanne Aubry comble de bonheur son public avec Fanette : la suite, première partie Amitiés particulières, qui arrive en librairie ce mercredi 24 mars 2021. Grâce à son immense talent d’écrivaine, ce roman de plus de 500 pages est captivant du début à la fin. Cette suite de Fanette nous permet de belles retrouvailles avec des personnages qu’on a adorées. Ce roman est totalement à la hauteur de nos attentes. » 

Shirley Noël, LES ARTSZÉ 

“Seven years after publishing the seventh and supposedly last volume of her magnificent historical saga, Suzanne  Aubry is once again delighting her fans with Fanette: the sequel part 1–Special Friendships, in stores Tuesday,  March 24, 2021. Her enormous talent as a writer ensures that this novel, over 500 pages long, is captivating from  beginning to end. This follow-up to Fanette lets us reconnect with so many beloved characters. The novel is  everything we could have wanted.” Shirley Noël, LES ARTSZÉ

To rewatch this event on Youtube, click here!


Bloomsday Montreal presents Bùmarang

in concert

Bloomsday Montreal is thrilled to present Celtic music group Bùmarang in concert at The Wheel Club, 3373 Cavendish Boulevard, on Sunday, October 3, 2021 2:00-4:00 pm. Doors at 1:30. Vaccine passport and identification required. 

The virtuosic trio bring Celtic traditions together with classical, jazz, and world influences in unique and innovative stylings. Renowned musicians Kate Bevan-Baker, David Gossage, and Sarah Pagé will play tunes from their album, Echo Land, along with Irish music from past centuries and pieces referenced in James Joyce’s epic novel, Ulysses. They’ll explore the origins of old and cherished melodies and share their own musical origins. Fiddle, flute, harp, bouzouki, guitar, vocals provide a lush, lively, and varied soundscape, a perfect way to spend a Sunday afternoon.

The concert is free. Donations gratefully accepted either online or in person.

If you can’t be there in person you can still enjoy the concert on a livestream, which will be made available from this webpage.

The Wheel Club is a historic and cultural gem. It offers a fully stocked bar and a delicious menu of dumplings and salads. Located just south of Sherbrooke Street West on bus routes 104, 105, and 138, the club has a parking lot and an accessible entrance. Everything old is new again.

Please register for the livestream or to attend in person. Seating is limited. Proof of COVID-19 vaccination and masks required.

Bloomsday Festival 2021 In Review

We had a spectacular festival with you all, and can’t wait for next year in person! Check out videos of our events below!



James Joyce: Friends, Enemies, and Influences: Check out UK illustrator Craig Morriss’s gorgeous, humorous, and insightful caricatures of James Joyce and his milieu here. Craig offers our festival a special platform to view his work and commentary for the second year in a row. And if you fondly remember last year’s installment, it’s still available to view here!


Saturday, June 12

2:00-3:15 PM, Virtually

Opening event: MOLLY IN MOTION 

Famed choreographer Margie Gillis presents a work in progress, in conversation with Dennis Trudeau

Rewatch the event here!


Sunday, June 13 

9:30-11:15 AM, In Person (!) and Virtually

POSTCOLONIAL OLD MONTREAL: An Irish Perspective (Guided Walk with Donovan King)

Join historian Donovan King on a postcolonial walking tour of Old Montreal with an Irish twist! The tour will explore Montreal’s colonial history and the culture and commemoration wars playing out today in the city’s historic district. Interpreted through an Irish-Montreal lens, this tour guarantees that you will never see Old Montreal in the same light again!

Rewatch the virtual event here!


2:00 – 3:45 PM, Virtually

Variety concert hosted by Dennis Trudeau 

Featuring singer Kathleen McAuliffe, violinist Claude Gelineau, tenor and English Concertina Mark Evans,  singer/guitarist Johanne Patry, singer/pianist Geraldina Mendez, Julie Tamiko Manning reading from her play, The Tashme Project: The Living Archives, translator Martina Branagan reading from her translation of Fanette: À la conquête de la haute ville, Peter Behrens reading from his debut novel The Law of Dreams, and José Rafael Silva performing songs that the fictional Stephen Dedalus would have heard as a boy.

Rewatch the event here!


Monday, June 14

10:00 AM – 12:00 PM, Virtually 

Academic panel session 1, moderated by Geraldina Mendez, speaking with John McCourt, Casey Lawrence, and Mary Lawton


1:00-3:00 PM, Virtually  

Academic panel session 2, moderated by Geraldina Mendez, speaking with Cleo Hanaway-Oakley, Marcelo Zabaloy, and Derek Bateman

For our 10th Anniversary we share presentations on the theme of ‘Origins’ by returning Joyce Scholar, John McCourt co-director of the Trieste Joyce School and President of the International James Joyce Foundation, speaking on the origin of Bloomsday, Dublin, 1954;  Spanish translator of Joyce, and Marcelo Zabaloy on a lipogramatic translation of Ulysses.  New voices this year include:

Cleo Hanaway-Oakley, Lecturer at the University of Bristol, U.K., exploring Joyce’s “Blind Stripling”, who is encountered by Bloom in the ‘Lestrygonians’ episode of Ulysses, and whose origins lie, partly at least, in Joyce’s interest in fin de siècle Parisian blindness memoirs and manuals. 

Casey Lawrence, PhD Candidate at Trinity College Dublin, with the intriguing title of “From Cap and Apron to Bella Cohen: the genetics of vicelike corsets”, an exploration of the cross-dressing scene in Bella Cohen’s Brothel from Ulysses

Mary Lawton, PhD researcher in The School of English, University College Cork, Ireland, whose presentation examines the interrelationship of James Joyce’s Ulysses and Phineas Fletcher’s seventeenth-century epic poem Purple Island or The Isle of Man (1633). Both the novel and poem explore the human body.

Derek Bateman, PhD candidate from Concordia University, discussing literary allusions to Shakespeare in the “Scylla and Charybdis” episode of Ulysses.

Rewatch the first half of the event here, or the second half here!


Tuesday, June 15 

10:00 – 11:15 AM, Virtually

Origins of Irishness in Cinema: From Joyce and Silent Film to John Ford and Darby O’Gill

Led by Kerry McElroy, PhD, and Irish podcaster Cian Gill

Kerry McElroy is a film and cultural historian and writer with a recent doctorate from Concordia in the PhD Humanities. Her thesis, entitled Class Acts: A Socio-Cultural History of Women, Labour, and Migration in Hollywood, focused on the actress as working class subject and included fieldwork interviews she conducted with women in Hollywood across professions. She has published articles on cinema, women, history, culture, and politics in Irish AmericaThe Independent, and Serai, among other magazines. She holds master’s degrees from Columbia and Carnegie Mellon Universities.

Cian Gill writes and hosts the Wide Atlantic Weird podcast, a show that takes a critical, but never cynical, look at strange beliefs. Recording from County Cork in Ireland, Cian takes a special interest in tales of the mysterious, weird fiction, and folklore from Ireland. The show features original research, analysis, and contributions from experts in fringe thought from around the world.


2:00 – 3:15 PM, Virtually

Anne Lewis in Conversation

Belfast-born Montreal author, artist, narrative coach and Edward R. Murrow award-winning journalist Anne Lewis shares some current work including her memoir of Leonard Cohen to be published by Simon and Schuster in 2023.  In conversation with Dennis Trudeau.

Rewatch the event here!




5:30 – 6:15 PM, Virtually

Simple Soda Bread — A Cooking Class with Jonathan Cheung from Appetite for Books

Get ready to bake with Jonathan and in no time you’ll have a fresh loaf of soda bread to go with your dinner! Check out the ingredients you might want to have handy here.

Rewatch the event here!



Wednesday, June 16 

Kevin wright11:00 AM – 1:10 PM, Virtually 

Readings from Ulysses, hosted by Kevin Wright

Rewatch the event here!





2:00 – 3:15 PM, Virtually 

Molly Bloom’s reverie (Ulysses Chapter 18) read by Kathleen Fee, with musical accompaniment by Geraldina Mendez

Rewatch the event here!

Earlier Events

Feb 2: James Joyce’s Birthday Celebration


Festival Bloomsday Montreal celebrates James Joyce’s birthday every February 2.  Because, why not?


In fact, the 2020 celebration at the Westmount Library (02-02-2020 for the numerologically inclined) was one of the last times we were able to gather in person before COVID-19 upended our lives.  The Westmount room was full to bursting and quite unlibrary-like: the wood paneling echoing with chatter and laughter as people passed around sweets and refreshments.  Our master of ceremonies, Kevin Wright, got the lively crowd under control and introduced a roster of readers for an entertaining hour of stories, reminiscence, and recently rediscovered excerpts of Joyceana.  After a piece of birthday cake all headed out into the snow.


This year we all assembled on Zoom for another evening of readings by and about Joyce, again hosted by Bloomsday Montreal’s president, Kevin Wright, whose erudition sparkles behind a gracious, genial smile.  Kevin has plumbed the depths of Joyce’s work to uncover some little-known gems that suit this year’s theme: Origins.  A distinguished group of local “originals” including the delightful literary sisters, Peggy and Colleen Curran, and theatre stalwart, Clive Brewer, brought them to life.  


Jan 6: “The Midnight Court”


To kick off our 10th anniversary year, Festival Bloomsday Montréal presented a dramatic reading of The Midnight Court, a racy, word-rich, bawdy poem, widely regarded as the greatest work of comic verse in the history of Irish poetry.  Women take the men of Ireland to court for shirking their duties between the sheets.  “It’s enough to make us broken-hearted—legs galore and none of them parted.” 


Composed 250 years ago by Brian Merriman, our rollicking English translation was penned in the 1950s by David Marcus. 


Featuring performers Kathleen McAuliffe, Julian Casey, and Kathleen Fee, the music of Bùmarang and Kate Bevan-Baker, directed by Elsa Bolam, scholarly commentary: Elaine Bander, PhD, hosted by Dennis Trudeau.


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