By Sean Moriarty
Bird’s Amusements, who have been coming to Killarney town for 83 years – are hopeful they can maintain their long tradition this summer and are in active discussions with Kerry County Council and Killarney Municipal District officials.
Ireland’s largest travelling fun fair has never missed a summer in Killarney since their first visit in 1937.
The fair, currently operated by founder William Bird’s grandson Don and his children, usually operates in the Fair Hill car park.
In preparation for a hopeful restart the fun fair has introduced a range of measures including appointing several staff member as COVID-19 compliance officers. They have worked with the Irish Showman’s Guild to come up with a range of plans that will see all members of this umbrella group operate to some degree this season.
The family’s permanent fun fair in Tramore County Waterford is operational since late last month and Don Bird is “optimistically hopeful” this will help get the necessary permits to operate in Kerry this year.
“We understand that the Council is very busy trying to reopen the town and we are just another peripheral operation in all of that,” he told the Killarney Advertiser. “My colleague, who looks after the paperwork is quietly confident we will get permits but I prefer to take a more cautious approach – I am optimistically confidant.”
One of the main problems is insurance. They have suspended their cover until they get back up and running but the Council may not grant a permit without insurance in place.
“I would have to spend an awful lot of money to reactivate it and then find I could not start up for the summer,” he added. “I have been given a letter of goodwill from my broker showing that cover can be put in place. I don’t want to put the Council officials under pressure either – they have enough to do to get the town reopened.”
Bird’s Amusements have used Computer Aided Design (CAD) software to plan proposed layouts in the Fairhill car park. This has helped them identify areas in the fairground that may not be complaint with social distancing measures.
Most of their fleet has been parked at their depot near Birdhill in Tipperary since the shutdown – they were due to operate at St Patrick’s Day festivals in Dublin and Bray but that never happened and instead used the down time to train staff and try new methods of operation.
“We tested loads of different scenarios – some PPE does not work in a fairground – there is no point in wearing a face shield that will fly off when on a ride,” he added.