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Duffy's Circus owner (91) in positive test as the Irish fairground industry counts cost of virus

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Tom Duffy, one of the top circus ringmasters and owners in Ireland, has tested positive for coronavirus at the age of 91. (Ben Birchall/PA)

Tom Duffy, one of the top circus ringmasters and owners in Ireland, has tested positive for coronavirus at the age of 91. (Ben Birchall/PA)

PA

Tom Duffy, one of the top circus ringmasters and owners in Ireland, has tested positive for coronavirus at the age of 91. (Ben Birchall/PA)

Tom Duffy, one of the top circus ringmasters and owners in Ireland, has tested positive for coronavirus at the age of 91.

Mr Duffy's son David said: "He was tested as a precaution because of a slight infection he had. The doctors were surprised he tested positive as he wasn't showing any symptoms.

"Dad has beaten cancer twice. This will be no bother to him."

For 20 years the Duffy family have lived in Bohermeen, Co Meath, which the ringmaster, his family and animals call home.

The circus, which dates back to 1870 and is one of the oldest big tops in the world, had been set to open in Galway last month.

Usually at this time of year the circus is doing its rounds in Ireland. But the coronavirus has "completely destroyed" the working life of circuses, fairgrounds and fun fairs operating in Ireland, an umbrella group is warning.

The Irish Showmen's Guild, which represents up to 50 families working in the industry, say they are "fearful" of a backlash once restrictions are eased.

Guild spokesman Charles O'Brien said: "The whole industry is devastated. We are not exactly hand-to-mouth at the moment but we are close to it. It is a real juggling act at the moment. So many festivals have been stopped and a result we couldn't be there.

"Some members are fearing they will have to sell equipment in order to survive financially despite not wanting to do this.

"Local communities may not want us back in their areas - as we travel in and out and move on to other counties, we are transient and not a stationary industry - due to aftermath, worries and fears brought about by the coronavirus pandemic.

"The past couple of years have tested our industry immensely, insurance premiums nearly put us off the road. Covid-19 has done that."

Belfast Telegraph