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1982 Recordings

Introduction
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

Director's introduction

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This 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.

My 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.

Our 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.

For 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.

As 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.
William Styles, Director.