Over twenty years ago RTÉ Radio celebrated the centenary of
James Joyce with this dramatised full production of "Ulysses".
That marathon programme on Bloomsday, 1982 was a high point for
our public service broadcasting. The production was unique in
its ambition and imagination then, and its achievement stands
unequalled today. Now, here it is, digitally remastered on CD
and MP3, for the pleasure of new generations of listeners and
readers. I thank the Lannan Foundation for supporting this edition
of the recording, Dennis O'Driscoll for our introduction to the
Foundation, and my colleagues Ed Mulhall and Ann-Marie O'Callaghan
for their steadfast vision.
Adrian Moynes Managing Director, RTÉ Radio
Ulysses project started off as far as I was concerned on the the
2nd February 1981 - the 99th Anniversary of Joyce's birth, when
I was called into the office of Mr PJ O Connor, then Head of Drama
and Variety. He proposed a complete reading of Ulysses to be broadcast
the following year for Joyce's centenary. I didn't allow the fact
that I hadn't actually read the book get in the way of my enthusiastic
undertaking of such an ambitious project and it seems strange
now looking back at that meeting that neither of us had any idea
of how long the programme was actually going to be.
journey with Ulysses therefore started with an apprehensive reading
of the text with the help of the Joycean scholar, Roland McHugh
in the role of consultant. In the reading of the book, various
ideas came to me and I moved from the original concept of a straight
reading to a dramatised acted reading using the RTE players. It
was to be almost a year later when we re-remerged from studio
with a 29 and a half hour radio production. It was to become the
longest radio programme ever made and was first broadcast on RTÉ
Radio 1 right across the day from early morning on Bloomsday 1982,
the Centenary year of Joyce's birth.
weeks in studio together were intense and exhausting. The cast
gave more than their best and we inhabited a world where the characters
who wandered across the pages of Ulysses were discussed, analysed
and then brought to life in our studio. It's a tribute to the
RTÉ Players and their talents that many characters in this
production of Ulysses bore no resemblance to those actors who
played them, either in spirit,personality or indeed in years.
me, I tried to remain as faithful to James Joyce as I possibly
could. But then there were the logistical challenges - like recreating
songs that existed only in Joyce's head and what to do with a
held note sung by Simon Dedalus at the Ormond hotel lasting over
two and a half pages in the text but five minutes on radio.
I got to know the work better, I got to like it more and more.
I knew that parts of the writing demonstrated sheer genius. I
knew the cast was quite exceptional. They never questioned if
I was right or wrong. Somethimes I didn't know myself, but my
instinct told me what I was doing was right.