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Dublin-Born Actor to Read From 'Ulysses'

June 15, 1989

Shay Duffin, a Dublin-born actor known for his one-man play about Irish writer Brendan Behan, will appear at Ventura's City Bakery on Friday in an evening of anniversary readings from James Joyce's "Ulysses."

Friday is the 85th anniversary of the single day in which Joyce's classic novel takes place. It is known to Joyce fans as "Bloomsday," after the book's main character, Dubliner Leopold Bloom, and over the years has become a time for Joyce readings.

George Keenan, owner of City Bakery, said he initially had thought of lining up readers to go through the entire novel, but realized that he would need 40 even for an abridged 20-hour version. Through a customer, he reached Duffin, now a resident of Redondo Beach, who enthusiastically agreed to a much shorter evening of readings.

Duffin said he has been a Joyce enthusiast since his childhood.

"I was baptized in the same font . . . at St. Joseph's in Terenure," he said in his thick brogue. "And his three-story house overlooked our two-story house. In the evenings, his house prevented our house from getting any sun."

Someone who likes to promote the "intelligent" Irish--"I hate the drunken-Irish image"--Duffin, 52, relishes celebrating Bloomsday.

"It's probably the most famous day in English literature," he said.

And one of the most controversial. "Ulysses" was once banned both in this country and Ireland for its sexual candor.

Friday's celebration, which starts at 7 p.m., will also feature readings by John Stark, a Canadian actor known for his one-man show of humorist Stephen Leacock, and Bruce Collins, who teaches English at Ventura College.

Keenan, whose East Main Street bakery frequently plays host to poetry readings, believes that the celebration is the only one of its kind this year in the Los Angeles area.

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