Shut your Eyes and See! NCBI and James Joyce Cultural Centre Collaboration

Blond woman reading a book


Wednesday 16th June 2021, For Bloomsday 2021, NCBI (National Council for the Blind of Ireland) and The James Joyce Cultural Centre are celebrating the importance of James Joyce as a visual impaired writer. From childhood, Joyce suffered with his eyesight and had to overcome ten difficult eye operations. Yet despite all the pain and challenges this brought to his life and work, it’s the clarity of his writing and the extraordinary vision and insight in his sense of character and place that still astounds the reader today.

June Tinsley, NCBI Head of Advocacy and Communications said “the connections between Joyce and vision impairment and NCBI are numerous from his own experiences of being vision impaired through to some of his characters being blind to his father’s death in our NCBI national headquarters in the former Drumcondra fever hospital. Together with the James Joyce Cultural Centre, we’ve created a series of videos to celebrate these many connections through a range of presenters reading or singing extracts of Joyce’s work.”

Darina Gallagher, Director of James Joyce Cultural Centre said “people often overlook or are unaware that James Joyce was visually impaired. It is important to celebrate this part of him and how it influenced his highly acclaimed work. It demonstrates how his vision impairment did not hinder his artistic talent and accomplishments. A lesson that is equally important today when we need to focus on ability rather than disability”.

The videos include:

  • Senator David Norris reading an excerpt from A Portrait of an Artist as a Young Man
  • Emilie Conway (a visually impaired artist) doing a dramatization from a scene from Ulysses
  • Maya Kostick (12-year-old digital Braille reader) reciting an extract from A Portrait of an Artist as a Young Man
  • Frank Callery (historian) discussing the connections between the Joyce family, Joyce’s characters and vision impairment
  • Darina Gallagher (Director of James Joyce Cultural Centre) reading from Ulysses.

Also, in celebration of Joyce, the NCBI Library Access Service has produced copies of:  James Joyce, A Biography in audio, Braille and digital formats. These copies will be available from the NCBI Library Access Service on Bloomsday 2021.

All videos are available from the NCBI YouTube channel.
Watch the videos on Youtube