June 08, 2017
Travelling back in time to Dublin in the 1900's thanks to a Ulysses and VR collision
By: Eoghan Kidney

Every year, on June 16th, Joyceans across the globe mark Bloomsday, a day that celebrates Thursday, June 16th, 1904—the day famously depicted in James Joyce’s masterpiece, Ulysses.

Ireland’s first ever Bloomsday was celebrated 63 years ago, in 1954, by Patrick Kavanagh and Flann O’Brien, two literary giants of the 20th century.


The pair visited a number of locations from the book, including the Martello Tower at Sandycove and Davy Byrne’s pub, reading sections of Ulysses and rejoicing at one of the greatest novels ever penned.

In anticipation of Bloomsday 2017, we’re celebrating the occasion a little differently at The Dock.

1900’s Dublin, from inside the walls of Area 2.1

Inside the walls of Area 2.1, our custom-built makerspace, lies an Oculus Rift, containing a piece of software that myself and a friend completed developing late last year.

This software presents a user with the opportunity to dive into the past, transporting them to Dublin City in the early 1900’s, to a period of time that became the foundation for James Joyce’s Ulysses.

If you’ve ever sat down to read the book, you’ll be familiar with the often-perplexing writing styles, and the regularly puzzling jumps between thought and reality, which can make it difficult to read and absorb.

Hit play above to get some insight into what the experience is like.

A Next Generation Learning Experience

Our objective with the Ulysses VR project was to create an immersive educational experience, that leveraged the immense possibilities posed by the new generation of VR headsets.

Designed in Unreal Engine 4, the experience explores the potential for expanded storytelling through virtual reality, in the hope that it immerses the user in an environment that enhances concentration and promotes learning.

A ‘blooming’ Great Learning Experience A ‘blooming’ Great Learning Experience

Ulysses VR enables the user to step into the beginning of chapter three, to a virtual Sandymount Strand (only 12 minutes from The Dock, as it happens).

Once there, the chapter will be read to the user, while illustrations hover around them in real-time, using textual annotations, images and links.

The scene itself was designed to accurately portray how it would have appeared during Joyce’s time, and is the result of many visits to the National Archives and countless hours spent pouring over old maps of the area.

If you would like to try Ulysses in VR for yourself, it will be available as part of a public showcase on 18th June in Fitzgeralds in Sandycove.

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