Jack Quann
Jack Quann

11.04 20 Jun 2020


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The Irish, family-run circus chain Duffy's Circus says it looks set to miss out on all its planned seasonal shows for this year.

The company was about to open a show in Galway when the first coronavirus restrictions were announced.

Head of the company, David Duffy, told Down to Business the final nail in the coffin was that a circus tent was deemed an indoor event.

"Last night's announcement has changed the whole picture.

"It was actually quite devastating for the circus industry as it is - I'm sure for all the arts sector, the events sector, the funfairs.

"I was getting confident: the fifth phase was taken away, which was the last phase, so we assumed that's where we were going to be."

"Obviously naively of me I was fairly confident that the one metre rule would come in.

"But then last night's announcement regarding 50 people from the end of the month and then 100 people from July 20th that just knocked the wind out of our sails.

"We have 50 of a company, so technically that means we can't actually show to anybody."

He added that re-opening seems 'unlikely' due to the fact that the circus is a seasonal event.

"Yesterday evening we had a meeting here amongst the family and it's looking like now that our season isn't going to go ahead for this year."

"It's going to be quite an emotional decision, because even on a personal side, Dad is very concerned.

"He's 91, he's in the care home and he just wants to be back out so that he can try to help us.

"This is a legacy that's been handed down for generations - so although it is a business, it's our way of life".

"I'm also totally aware that we're not the only ones in this situation, there's thousands and thousands who have been affected".

Duffy's Circus Picture by: Tom Duffy's Circus

Mr Duffy said he had hopes at the beginning that the restrictions would be minimised.

"Initially it was only going to be for a couple of weeks for everything to close, so we decided that we would just stay in Galway and leave the big top up and then we would just re-advertise and open again.

"Obviously after a week or so, we could see this wasn't going to be a short fix - so we returned home.

"We put the big top up in our winter quarters because the artists obviously have to keep fit.

"They have to practice and train every day - so it was a good place for them to be, both for their physical and mental health.

"We managed to get 20 of our people away, back home, before their borders closed.

"But the other 30 weren't able to get home - so they're all here together with us, so we're all kind of locked down in a sort of community bubble."

His father, Tom, who is 91-years-old had a battle with COVID-19.

"Dad has been in a care home for the last two years now.

"A couple of months ago he was tested [for COVID-19] and he tested positive.

"Dad has beaten cancer twice, he was given six months to live 25 years ago after having surgery for colon cancer.

"And then 15 years ago he had one of his kidneys taken away, also with cancer, and he was back on the circus in four or five days.

"So he said COVID wasn't going to be much of a problem to him, and that's how it turned out to be".

'Technically we can't show to anybody' - Duffy's Circus set to miss 2020 shows

00:00:00 / 00:00:00

  

Main image: Picture by: Tom Duffy's Circus

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