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Bellringers at Taney Church to celebrate Bloomsday. Michael Ryan
the bells of ulysses

Dundrum's Taney Church rings original bells referenced in James Joyce's Ulysses to celebrate Bloomsday

The original handbells from St. George’s have been reunited with the church bells referenced in Joyce’s Ulysses after 35 years.

CHURCH BELLS RANG at Taney Church in Dundrum this afternoon, as ringing master Michael Ryan led ringers in celebration of Bloomsday – using the bells referenced in the renowned novel Ulysses.

A commemoration of Dublin author James Joyce’s 1922 novel, Ulysses, Bloomsday marks the day on which the novel is set in 1904. Across the world, fans of Joyce celebrated the day through a variety of activities. 

In Dublin, dedicated fans facilitated a celebration spanning from Tuesday to the day itself. The five days consisted of readings of Joyce’s work, tours, and exhibitions. 

In Taney, a number of ringers gathered to ring the church’s bells to mark the occasion. 

The bells in Taney Church were mentioned within the iconic novel by Joyce. Originally in St. George’s Church on Temple Street, the bells were put into storage when the church closed down in 1990. A set of handbells that had been rung in St. George’s had gone missing around this time. 

In December 1999, the church bells were dusted off and placed into Taney for the beginning of the millennium. They rang in the year 2000, and have been operational ever since.

On Thursday, after 35 years, the St. George’s handbells were rediscovered and returned to their sister bells – just in time to be rung today in tandem. 

Unknown Bellringers at Taney Church earlier today. Michael Ryan Michael Ryan

Ringing master Michael Ryan told the The Journal that he “couldn’t believe” their luck at having found the bells. 

“The timing was just unbelievable,” he said. “It was just great to have them back. Now we can start teaching people with them as well.”

Mr Ryan has been ringing church bells for almost 50 years. He started off in John’s Lane Church on Thomas Street where he was an altar boy, after climbing the tower with a friend of his. 

“I thought these people were great, because they let me out onto the balcony and they look all around Dublin, then they brought me up to the bells, and I just got hooked,” he said.

I said, I’ll do this, and ever since then, I’ve been ringing bells.”

He now has a team of roughly twenty-eight ringers who help operate the eight bells in Taney Church. It is one of five towers in Ireland that have people behind the ringing of church bells. 

The bells are referenced in a number of pages within Ulysses. Protagonist Leopold Bloom, for whom the day is named, mentions the bells of St. George’s ringing as he embarks around Dublin. 

The bells are rung three times a week for practice, and before and after service on Sundays. 

“We have a lot of ringers who want to ring,” Mr Ryan said. “So look, I could think of worse things to do.”

He spoke of an appeal for bellringers across the country, and urged anyone interested to contact their local tower or any church to be put in contact with a ringing master. 

“Even though we have a lot of bellringers, there are a lot of towers that do not have them.

“Even to contact us, come and talk, contact us. We always take ringers,” he said. 

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