Events News Press
30 January, 2024 • Derry ~ Donegal


PRESS RELEASE / Tuesday 30 January 2024                                                                  ulysseseurope.eu

Dame Harriet Walter, Fiona Shaw, Cush Jumbo, Imelda Staunton and Siobhán McSweeney amongst eight stars contributing to Molly Bloom soliloquy film to be shown in June at the new YES Festival in Derry~Donegal

The YES Festival’s multi-disciplinary cultural programme will showcase creative work by female artists from across Europe

The festival is the culmination of ULYSSES European Odyssey 2022-2024, the international cultural programme celebrating Joyce’s masterpiece Ulysses in 18 cities in 16 European countries

Bloomsday – held each year on 16 June – will become Molly Bloomsday in 2024

Award-winning stage and screen actresses Fiona Shaw, Harriet Walter, Cush Jumbo and Miriam Margolyes are amongst the artists contributing to The YES Festival, an international celebration of women’s creativity inspired by James Joyce’s most famous female character, Molly Bloom, from his masterpiece Ulysses.

The YES Festival will take place in Derry~Londonderry and north Donegal from 13-16 June. It is the culmination of ULYSSES European Odyssey, an unprecedented international project supported with funding through Creative Europe that since 2022 has seen partners in 18 cities across Europe take Joyce’s novel as the starting point to explore contemporary issues, from migration to the environment and disability to global data.

Women artists from cities involved in ULYSSES European Odyssey will travel to Ireland for the YES Festival, to present work in venues and public spaces across Derry~Donegal. The programme will include theatre, dance, visual arts, installations, film, writing, photography, textiles, circus, music, rap and song.

There will be a world premiere screening of The Molly Film, a new film featuring Fiona Shaw, Harriet Walter and six other international renowned actresses, each reading one of eight long sentences that form Molly Bloom’s extraordinary stream of consciousness monologue. The final episode of Ulysses, Molly’s soliloquy begins and ends with the word ‘yes’ and has provided inspiration for many artists such as Kate Bush. More details about the film and the other actresses involved will be announced shortly. The screening will take place on Sunday 16 June, which has been dubbed Bloomsday by Joyce fans after the book’s central character Leopold Bloom, but will be renamed Molly Bloomsday in celebration of his wife and to mark the end of ULYSSES European Odyssey.

Other YES Festival highlights include:

An 18-hour cultural journey across Derry and north Donegal, re-interpreting Leopold Bloom’s journey across Dublin and that of ULYSSES European Odyssey across Europe.

The Molly Bed, a large-scale interactive public installation, with a digital screen as headboard conveying messages by women from around the world.

SIRENSCIRCUS inspired by John Cage’s Musicircus, which brings together the public, musicians and nonmusicians to create a powerfully joyous sonic experience.

An unprecedented event on Derry’s 17th century walls, bringing together marching bands from both traditions, linked to the ULYSSES European Odyssey theme of co-existence (episode X of Ulysses)

Dance-In! – a joyous, chaotic dance ‘happening’ inspired by the women that worked in Derry’s shirt factories, involving dance groups from across the city and surrounding area. Bring your dancing shoes!

The Return of Ulysses Trail – each of the 18 ULYSSES European Odyssey city partners will send exhibits from their projects for presentation at venues on a trail from Derry City Football Club in the west of the city to Ebrington Square in the Waterside east.

At a time when more is being written about both Joyce’s wife Nora Barnacle and Molly Bloom, the YES Festival and its theme The Future: A Female Vision invite audiences to think about the role of women in the writer’s life and work, and more widely, in society, in art, in business, in politics, as thinkers, as creatives, as leaders.

The YES Festival is produced and curated by highly respected producing team ARTS OVER BORDERS Ireland, who have received co-funding from the Department of Foreign Affairs Ireland and have developed ULYSSES European Odyssey with partners in the following cities: Athens, Trieste, Vilnius, Budapest, Marseille, Paris, Berlin, Lugo, Copenhagen, Istanbul, Cluj, Zurich, Leeuwarden, Eleusis, Oulu, Lisbon, Dublin and, finally, Derry~Donegal.

Derry was chosen as the final city because Molly Bloom’s soliloquy begins and ends with the word ‘yes’, and on the streets of Derry, the word ‘yes’ is used as a greeting, a colloquial form of ‘hello’. The city was also chosen as the main location for the female-led programme, because historically the city relied on a predominantly female workforce, with women often the main breadwinners at the time that Joyce wrote Ulysses. When it was published, more than 40 shirt factories were operating in the city, with women making up most of the workforce. The YES Festival connects that historical context with contemporary female creative production.

Shauna Kelpie, Artistic Curator for the YES Festival, says: “Countless words have been written about Ulysses, very often from the male perspective, so we’re really excited that the YES Festival should be created by women and to see how they interpret Joyce’s masterpiece. The YES Festival will celebrate the work of established and emerging women artists from across Europe in a packed programme of events and activities as we welcome the world to Derry and Donegal over four exciting days in June 2024 – including the first ever Molly~Bloomsday on 16 June. Local people and communities as well as visitors will have the chance to connect, share and interact with a diverse range of artforms curated to showcase the exceptional creative talent and distinctive voices of women.”

Seán Doran, co-director of ARTS OVER BORDERS with Liam Browne, says: “In bringing Joyce’s Dublin-based novel Ulysses north in such a deliberate way, the YES Festival seeks to highlight the year in which he was writing the Penelope episode (Molly’s soliloquy), 1921, which also happened to be the year that the Government of Ireland Act divided Ireland into two territories, Southern Ireland and Northern Ireland – a political development that Joyce would have been acutely conscious of. There is a poignancy that the largest ever celebration of Joyce’s epic novel, commencing in Athens in 2022 and taking place across 18 European returns not just to Dublin but to both parts of Ireland for its final two episodes – episode 17, Ithaca, in Dublin with the award-winning Museum of Literature Ireland (MoLI) along with the UEO Grand Arts & Society Symposium (GASS) at Trinity College Dublin, and finally, with episode 18, Penelope, in Derry~Donegal.”

Artists travelling to Derry~Donegal from mainland Europe for the YES Festival include:

DJ and music producer Miss Trouli from STEGI.RADIO, Athens, Greece

Artist and filmmaker, Lilli Kuschel, Berlin, Germany

Writer Noémi Kiss, Budapest, Hungary

Queer visual activists Ioana Ofelia and Daniela Groza, Cluj, Romania

Actor and playwright, Hanin Georgis, Copenhagen, Denmark

Tapestry artist, Catherine O’Connor, Dublin

Electronic music DJ and producer VRGN, Eleusis, Greece

Choreographer Gizem Aksu joined by Banu Açıkdeniz, Sema Semih and Gizem Nalbant, Istanbul, Turkey

Dancers Jolanda Bazzi and Laila el Bazi, Leeuwarden, Netherlands

Singer Zoe de Souza, Lisbon, Portugal

Visual artist Gethan Dick, Marseille, France

Circus artist Hanna Moisala from Oulu, Finland

Photojournalist, reporter, and documentary filmmaker Monika Bulaj, Trieste, Italy

Textile artist Morta Jonynaitė, Vilnius, Lithuania

ULYSSES European Odyssey is funded through the Creative Europe programme, with additional support from funding partners in each of the cities involved in the project. ARTS OVER BORDERS have received additional funding from Ireland’s Department of Foreign Affairs.

For more information visit the website:https://ulysseseurope.eu/episode/derry-donegal/yes-festival ENDS


More details about the YES Festival will be released shortly. For information about the festival and the full ULYSSES European Odyssey programme, please contact Ben McKnight: [email protected] / +44 (0) 7716 778 850.

Notes to editors

Organisations and locations hosting YES Festival events include: St. Columb’s Hall, New Gate Arts Centre, Ebrington Square, The Guildhall, Londonderry Bands Forum, Celtronic, Gasyard Wall Féile; Derry City Walls, Museum of Free Derry; the Peace Bridge (Ebrington Parade Ground); Ebrington Hotel; Nerve Centre; The Playhouse; Old Foyle Railway; Holywell Trust; Derry City Football Club; Millennium Forum; Pilots Row Youth and Community Centre

About ULYSSES European Odyssey

ULYSSES European Odyssey is a three-year, transnational and multi-disciplinary programme inspired by James Joyce’s landmark novel, which runs until June 2024. It includes public events, interventions and symposia in 18 cities in 16 countries: Athens, Berlin, Budapest, Cluj, Copenhagen, Derry-Donegal, Dublin, Eleusis, Istanbul, Leeuwarden, Lisbon, Lugo, Marseille, Oulu, Paris, Trieste, Vilnius and Zurich.

Highlighting the contemporary relevance of Joyce’s work, partners in each city are taking one episode of Ulysses to explore contemporary issues facing Europe, including citizenship and democracy; migration; youth; Europe’s ageing population; social media; food production and sustainability; education; religion and social co-existence; gender freedom; the environment; mental health; and neighbourhoods and community.

Cross-sector symposia in each city will result in chARTer 309, a new democratic exploration of the relationship between arts and society, to be published in 2024. 30 artist exchange residencies are also taking place, and 18 writers from different literary genres and each city have been commissioned to contribute to EUROPE-ULYSSES (working title), a new book also to be published next year.

ULYSSES European Odyssey was conceived and originated by Lead Artistic Partner ARTS OVER BORDERS (Ireland’s acclaimed presenting body for cross-border arts festivals). They have developed the project with Lead Partner Netherlands-based Brave New World Producties (established after Leeuwarden-Friesland European Capital of Culture 2018 with the aim of investing in young artists through international collaborations in non-traditional settings), working with partners in each of the 18 cities. ULYSSES European Odyssey is funded through an award from the European Commission’s Creative Europe Fund.

For further information, please visit the ULYSSES European Odyssey website, or email [email protected] [if email is missing please refresh the page].


ARTS OVER BORDERS is Ireland’s presenting body for cross-border arts festivals. DORANBROWNE (Seán Doran and Liam Browne) are its founding Artistic Directors.

In 2012, Seán Doran created the Bio-Festival model, also the model that led to ULYSSES European Odyssey.  The Bio-Festival is a bespoke format which takes its inspiration from the genius of a single artist (or a single artwork) and their association with place.  AOB’s work is curated with an innovative contemporary sense of place, both rural & urban, throughout border communities and landscapes – In Ireland what AOB now call the northern literary lands of its 11 border counties.

ARTS OVER BORDERS has presented 13 cross-border literary multi-arts festivals in Ireland from 2012-2022 including the internationally acclaimed Happy Days Enniskillen International Beckett Festival which brought The Berliner Ensemble to Ireland for the first time (since 1939) with Georg Tabori’s infamous Warten Auf Godot and involved other international artists including theatre directors Robert Wilson, Peter Stein and Max Stafford Clark, actors Toby Jones, Klaus Maria Brandauer, choreographers Merce Cunningham, Maguy Marin and Mark Morris and the work of visual artists Antony Gormley, Tacita Dean, Joseph Kosuth and Steve McQueen. Other AOB festivals have included A Wilde Weekend in Enniskillen and the Lughnasa FrielFest celebrating the work of playwright Brian Friel (1929-2015) in Donegal & Derry involving actors Maxine Peake, Imogen Stubbs, Alex Jennings and Tamsin Greig. 

As DORANBROWNE, AOB’s Artistic Directors curated the Seamus Heaney HomePlace Opening Year Programme (2016/17), Liverpool’s Sgt Pepper at 50 Festival (2017) and f r a g m e n t s, The Waste Land Official Centenary Festival across 22 churches in the City of London in April 2022.


ULYSSES European Partners: 

Arena Ensemble (PT)
Blaagaard Teater (DK)
Babes-Bolyai University, Faculty of Theatre and Film (RO)
Brave New World Producties (NL)
Budapest Brand nZrt (HU)
Commune di Trieste (IT)
Create.Act.Enjoy (RO)
Critical+Xwhy Agency (LT)
Fundación Uxío Novoneyra (ES)
gethan&myles and Collectif ildi ! eldi (FR)
Lumo Light Festival (FI)
Museo Joyce Trieste (IT)
Museum of Literature Ireland, MoLI (IE)
Noorderlicht (NL)
Rimini Protokoll (DE)
Teatrul National Lucian Blaga din Cluj-Napoca (RO)
Vilnius City Museum (LT)
Yalan Dünya Films Ltd. (TR)

Department of Foreign Affairs, Ireland

Provinsje Fryslân