STRANDED: Stephen Courtney, his wife Teresa and baby Cora are unable to move from Fels Point in Tralee as a result of COVID-19 restrictions.
By Sean Moriarty
A circus that was due to perform in Killarney this week is stranded in Tralee as a result of COVID-19 restrictions and urgently needs diesel or electricity.
Circus Vegas, which is one of Ireland’s longest-running, is stranded in the Fels Point area of Tralee and is calling on the Council to allow it to connect to the local electricity mains or for locals to donate diesel so they can heat and light their caravans.
The touring circus, operated by the famous Courtney family, is one of three circus families in Ireland, and was due to perform in Killarney this week as part of the town’s St Patrick’s Day Festival. The Fossett and Duffy families each run a circus, while two different branches of the Courtney family run separate tours.
Circus Vegas was only able to perform on Tuesday and Wednesday last week before they were shut down. As a result, they have not earned a penny since last Wednesday night (March 11).
There are 29 people currently stuck in Tralee as they do not have enough diesel to move on.
Many of their performers are from Eastern Europe and cannot return home because of travel restrictions in their homelands. They cannot move from Tralee either as they have already siphoned diesel from their fleet of trucks to power generators to keep their caravans warm.
Management were able to secure Social Welfare payments for some of the staff so they have money for food. They were already in difficult times as they were unable to erect their Big Top during the many storms to hit Ireland in recent months and have only worked for a total of two weeks since Christmas.
They are looking for permission to connect to an ESB-owned power-point nearby but so far have failed to secure the required permits.
“We operate on a week-by-week basis,” Stephen Courtney told the Killarney Advertiser. “We are ok for food and water, we need diesel or if anyone knows someone high up in the Council or ESB, ask them if we can connect to the power box. We cannot do it without a permit and we are not going do anything illegal.”
Circus Vegas has been offered a field near Killarney by a local businessman but it is unable to move as trucks are currently without diesel. Even if they did move they are left with the same problem as any new location would require either a diesel or electricity supply.
“If I moved the whole lot I risk getting in trouble with the Gardai, they will be asking me why am I moving everything – it won’t look right,” added 48-year-old Mr Courtney who was born into Circus traditions. “We don’t get any money from the Government, we are not considered performing arts by the Arts Council. This could be the end of Circuses in Ireland.”
If anyone can help the circus, either in terms of diesel or securing the correct permits to connect to the mains box in Fels Point, Tralee should contact Stephen Courtney on 085 8637495.