Joy in the Park: Music, poetry and a mad hatter's tea party 

The inaugural family fun day is named after a woman who 'brought happiness to everyone who met her'
Joy in the Park: Music, poetry and a mad hatter's tea party 

The Lord Mayor of Cork, Cllr. Colm Kelleher, Martin Ryan, HSE Connecting For Life; Brendan McCarthy, Cork Mental Health Foundation; Linda Plover, Joy In The Park; Gabriel Rossi, Cork Circus Factory; Eimear Hallahan (saxophone) Rebel Brass and Luca Andreoni (sousaphone) Rebel Brass. Picture: Brian Lougheed

The colour purple, the mad hatter, eclectic music, vibrant poetry, fun and joy are some of the things you can expect at Fitzgerald’s Park in Cork this summer. With a carnival atmosphere, the inaugural family fun day, Joy In The Park, takes place on Sunday, July 17 and promises to be a fun-filled day celebrating life, the power of words and theatre, connection, and support for our wellbeing.

Set in the quiet retreat of Fitzgerald’s Park, with its tree-lined avenues away from the bustle of the city, the park will be transformed with a festival feel. The Cork Circus Factory will entertain both children and adults alike with their dynamic performances and the Cork Puppetry Company will parade their 'Pompous Creatures' to complete the carnival vibe.

Behind this quirky and diverse family fun day, there is Joy. Not all of us live up to our name, but Joy, she most certainly left a lasting impression.

“In 2021, we sadly lost someone very close and dear to us,” says event organiser, Linda Plover. “Her name was Joy and she brought so much happiness to everyone who met her.” 

Joy’s passing was a difficult time for her family and friends who feel her loss deeply and hope to encourage others to seek support and help at times of difficulty and embrace their wellbeing. While the event has a strong focus on supporting our mental health, it is also a celebration that is wonderfully unique, as much as Joy was. In every corner of this festival, Joy can be found. From The Mad Hatters Tea Party to the Joy Sylvie Spoken Word Stage, Joy and the very meaning of her name, will be discovered.

“Joy loved music and the arts and a lot of what is being programmed will reflect her personality,” says Plover. “She was a beautiful writer and wrote poetry and short stories and she absolutely loved music. Her taste was extremely eclectic because she loved everything, new and old.

She also loved tea and I really mean loved tea. She invented the "double dipper" which was an Earl Grey and Yorkshire tea combo. 

"She had an Alice in Wonderland themed party for her 30th Birthday which very much reflected her character. She was the Cheshire cat which was fitting as she always wore the biggest smile. She was quite mischievous too, very much as a child but never lost that when she grew up. Joy was charismatic, warm, and generous. She always wanted to make everybody happy.” 

A photo of Joy
A photo of Joy

Joy’s varied nature and warmth will be displayed throughout the diverse line-up of entertainment. With music, spoken word, storytelling, circus, and children's entertainment alongside an engaging programme of activities and workshops there is something for everyone. In keeping with the event's focus on mental wellbeing, wellness information spaces are provided through the community groups and organisations attending the event, such as Minding Creative Minds, Jigsaw, Pieta House, Samaritans, Shine A Light, and

“This event is not a memorial to Joy, but rather her legacy and a celebration of life whilst highlighting the importance of minding our mental health and wellbeing,” says Plover. 

“The last couple of years have been particularly difficult for many people through being isolated and not being able to access the help and support they have needed. There has been a huge disconnect and I feel more now than ever we need an event like this to feel connected and bring the community together. 

The Main Stage will deliver an exciting line-up of top live music throughout the afternoon with indie legend and ringmaster, Jerry Fish who will excite the crowd as always. The innovative trad and world music band Kila will entertain with their well-known lively performances, and Cork ska favourites, Pontious Pilate and The Naildrivers, will also make an appearance on the main stage. Young musicians from the Music Generation Cork City will be on stage to perform an eclectic mix of music from their programme, followed by a magical musical experience by the Cork Pops Ensemble.

The Mad Hatter’s Tea Party tent, meanwhile, will be host to the acoustic stage which will showcase some of Cork’s finest musicians. While there, attendees can indulge in afternoon tea presented by Tara’s Tea Rooms of Cork.

Families will get the chance to participate in circus workshops during the afternoon after being entertained by the unique Cork Circus Factory. And some of Ireland's most renowned poets and spoken word artists will feature on The Joy Sylvie Spoken Word Stage alongside emerging talent. With yoga, meditation, a mental health panel, art-based activities, food stalls, outdoor games, and not forgetting the vintage fairground carousels, you are guaranteed an adventurous mix of entertainment.

Cork Mental Health Foundation is the charity partner for Joy In The Park. Celebrating their 60th anniversary this year, they advocate and provide support for people with mental health difficulties. The foundation will be joined on the day to offer advice and information by a number of other mental health organisations and local support and community groups including Shine, GROW, Cork Counselling Services, Cork Women Traveller's Network, and the HSE Community Health Team.

“It's important to balance that sense of fun, connection and understanding, whilst raising awareness for mental health and well-being,” says Plover. “The event is totally free, and this couldn't happen without the funding support of Cork City Council, HSE, IMRO and Jacobs. Joy In the Park will be a celebration of life, whilst highlighting the importance of minding our mental health and well-being through bringing the community together and finding our Joy.” 

  • The event is supported with funding from the HSE through the Connecting for Life Cork programme, as part of the HSE suicide prevention mental health strategy and Cork Kerry Community Healthcare; Cork City Council's Arts Office, The Community Section and the LCDC community grant, PARKS, Environment & Amenities, IMRO's sponsorship programme; Jacobs Engineering and Shine A Light with additional programming support from Minding Creative Minds and the Music Generation Cork City Programme.

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