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History of IABANY'S Bloomsday Celebration and John Quinn Memorial Address

Ulysses, James Joyce's masterwork, was not only startlingly original.  It also resulted in a revolutionary legal development in the right to free speech and literary expression in a decision by Southern District of New York Judge John Woolsey in 1933.  In honor of that artistic and jurisprudential contribution, we inaugurated the Bloomsday celebration on June 16, 2009.  JaneAnne Murray (founder) and Janet Walsh (organizer) like to call it “the thinking woman’s St. Patrick’s Day.”  It is a day that celebrates Ireland’s literary and legal contribution to the world and the United States in particular, and because Ulysses is at its heart a story of exile, connection and homecoming, the day celebrates the existential emigrant in all of us, who seeks life’s holy grail, as Ulysses protagonist Leopold Bloom puts it, “[l]ove . . . the opposite of hatred.” 

Over the years, we have received generous sponsorship from various organizations, law firms and individuals, without whose support the event would not have been possible.  A particular thanks to the unfailing support of the Consulate General of Ireland, and our regular sponsors, Country Bank, Locks Law Firm, Aidan Synnott, Thomas Fitzpatrick, Brian McCaffrey, John Murphy, and Murray Law LLC. 

June 16, 2009
Co-sponsored by the American Irish Historical Society (AIHS) and The Consulate General of Ireland, our inaugural event was held at the AIHS on Fifth Avenue, with keynote speaker, famed First Amendment litigator Susan Buckley of Cahill Gorden & Reindel LLP.  Her address was entitled “The First Amendment and Indecent Speech: Lessons from Ulysses for the Twenty-First Century.”  During a rollicking half-hour journey through a century of obscenity decisions, Ms. Buckley traced the influence of Judge John Woolsey’s 1933 opinion on First Amendment jurisprudence.  Our ornate and plush surroundings had rarely, if ever, been the setting for the photographs, recordings and videos she shared with a rapt audience.  She was introduced by her law partner, Floyd Abrams, who took great pleasure in introducing himself as an honorary Irishman for the evening.  Niall Burgess, then Consul General of Ireland, read some his favorite passages from Ulysses.  Click here to see Ms. Buckley's speech. 

June 16, 2010
Our second celebration, also generously co-sponsored by the AIHS and the Irish Consulate and held at the AIHS, featured keynote speaker, the Hon. John Gleeson, United States District Court for the Eastern District of New York, introduced by the Hon. Reena Raggi, Second Circuit Judge.  Entitled “The Liberation of Ulysses,” Judge Gleeson’s address brought to life the story of the two trials of Ulysses (the publishers’ obscenity trial in 1921 and the trial of the book itself before Judge Woolsey in 1933), and the role lawyers and judges played perpetuating but ultimately ending the suppression of the novel.  He later developed his speech into an article that was published in the Jame Joyce Quarterly in 2015, “The Ulysses Cases and What They Reveal About Lawyers and the Law”.  Consul General Niall Burgess read National Book Award Winner Colum McCann’s moving reflection on British Prime Minister David Cameron’s public apology for the events of Bloody Sunday, which had just been issued the day before.  Mr. McCann was also in attendance at the event.  The evening was rounded off with a recital of Joyce-era arias by soprano, Lisa Flanagan, and a dramatized reading of the Cyclops Episode from Ulysses.

June 16, 2011
In 2011, with our audience numbers expanding, we moved the event to the spectacular rotunda of the Supreme Court at 60 Center Street.  The Irish Consulate and Culture Ireland, an agency of the Irish Government, generously co-sponsored the event.  Our keynote speaker was Kathleen Sullivan, first female name partner in an AmLaw 100 firm (Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan, LLP), and former dean of Stanford Law School.   Her address, “Our Extravagant Free Speech Tradition,” was an homage to the uniquely American First Amendment, and its historical genesis.  Ms. Sullivan was introduced by her law partner, A. William Urquhart.  Her address was accompanied by a re-enactment of the oral argument in U.S.A. v. One Book Called Ulysses, written from source materials by JaneAnne Murray and Wally Marzano, and featuring Judge Gerard Lynch as Judge John Woolsey, Brooklyn D.A. the Hon. Joe Hynes as the prosecutor, Sam Coleman, and General Counsel of the New Yorker Magazine, Lynn Oberlander, as Ulysses champion, Morris Ernst.

June 15, 2012
In 2012, our keynote speaker was the late, great Adrian Hardiman – bon vivant, lover of literature and the best things in life, Joyce Scholar in his own right, and Irish Supreme Court Justice in his day job.  His address “James Joyce – The Frustrated Lawyer,” highlighted the role of law in Ulysses, which he noted named 35 lawyers and 32 court cases, and contained innumerable legal references, mostly to contemporary trials and legal issues.  Consul General Noel Kilkenny was also in attendance.  For this event, and since we were in an actual courtroom (the ceremonial courtroom at 60 Center Street), JaneAnne Murray and Wally Marzano dug further back in history and spent months obtaining source materials to develop a transcript for a reenactment of the 1922 obscenity trial involving Joyce’s American publishers.  Our “Bloomsday Players” featured Justice Hardiman as Judge Frederic Kernochan, Walter Lesnevich as John Quinn, James Cullen as prosecutor Joseph Forrester, Wally Marzano and Todd Landor as defense expert witnesses, and JaneAnne Murray and Janet Walsh as the publishers.  Actress Laoise Sexton brought the house down with her reading from Ulysses – the section about Gerty MacDowell on the beach.  
Tragically, Justice Hardiman died suddenly in 2016, and we joined with our Irish legal brethren in mourning his far-too-soon passing.  

June 16, 2014
In 2014, we returned to the rotunda at 60 Centre Street for an evening with the Hon. Gerard E. Lynch, United States Court of Appeals Judge for the Second Circuit.  He was introduced by long-time IABANY supporter, Thomas Fitzpatrick.  Judge Lynch’s address, entitled “Copyright, Creativity and the First Amendment,” charted the combative history of Joyce’s estate on matters of copyright, despite Joyce’s own liberal borrowings from world literature.  For the event, JaneAnne Murray and Wally Marzano created a “twitter” presentation of quotes from the responses obtained by Morris Ernst in 1932 from librarians and booksellers throughout the United States, to assist in the defense of Ulysses in U.S.A. vs. One Book Called Ulysses.

June 16, 2015
In 2015, Lynn Oberlander, then General Counsel of Media Operations for First Look Media and who played Morris Ernst at our 2011 event, returned and gave us much to digest in her address, “Free Speech in the Age of Terrorism, Again.”  She was introduced by long-time IABANY supporter, Aidan Synnott.  The event was held at the Glucksman Ireland House at NYU.  Two weeks earlier, Janet Walsh had published an article in the Irish Voice about the event, “Irish Lawyers Meet for Bloomsday,” in which she reflected on how Joyce would have voted in Ireland’s referendum on same-sex marriage. 

June 16, 2016
Last year, at the National Arts Club, the keynote address – a forceful defense of free speech in the face of speech codes on campus – was delivered by the Hon. Reena Raggi, Second Circuit Judge.  Judge Raggi was introduced by the Hon. Carol Bagley Amon, United States District Court for the Eastern District of New York.  Consul General Barbara Jones was also in attendance.  

The event also featured a Hamilton-inspired rap version of the two trials of Ulysses, written by Janet Walsh with JaneAnne Murray and Wally Marzano, and performed by Walsh, Murray and Marzano. 

June 13, 2017

This year our keynote speaker was David McCraw, Vice President and Deputy General Counsel of the New York Times, who deliveredr a talk in the celebratory spirit of the day entitled: “Two Facts Walked into a Bar…Truly True Tales of Fake News and the First Amendment in the Age of Twitter.” Mr. McCraw was introduced by award-winning New York Times journalist Jim Dwyer. Please click here to see Mr. McCraw's speech. 

The event took place at Federal Hall, site of George Washington’s inauguration, and one of the storied homes of the First Amendment.  It was bookended with a wine and hors d’oeuvres reception, and featured an exhibit entitled “A Twitterized Tribute to Banned Books, created by Bill Bodkin and JaneAnne Murray.  Click here to view the exhibit and click here to read Bill’s introductory remarks. 

A special thanks to the Consulate General of Ireland for co-sponsoring the event.