Music, poetry and a mad hatter’s tea party

The color purple, the Mad Hatter, eclectic music, vibrant poetry, fun and joy are some of the things to expect at Fitzgerald’s Park in Cork this summer. With a carnival atmosphere, the first family fun day, joy in the parktakes place on Sunday 17th July and promises to be a fun day celebrating life, the power of words and theatre, connection and support for our wellbeing.

Nestled in the tranquil retreat of Fitzgerald’s Park, with its tree-lined avenues away from the hustle and bustle of the city, the park is transformed into a festival feel. The Cork Circus Factory will entertain both children and adults with their dynamic performances and the Cork Puppetry Company will perform their ‘pompous creatures’ to complete the carnival spirit.

Joy is behind this quirky and varied family fun day. Not all of us live up to our name, but Joy certainly made a lasting impression.

“Unfortunately, in 2021 we lost someone who is very close and dear to us,” says event organizer Linda Plover. “Her name was Joy and she brought so much happiness to everyone she met.”

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

“Joy loved music and art and a lot of what’s on the program will reflect her personality,” says Plover. “She was a beautiful writer and wrote poetry and short stories and she loved music more than anything. Her tastes were extremely eclectic because she loved everything, new and old.

She also loved tea and I mean really loved tea. She invented the “Double Dipper”, a tea combination of Earl Gray and Yorkshire.

“She had an Alice in Wonderland themed party for her 30th birthday, which reflected her character very well. She was the Cheshire Cat, which was fitting as she always had the biggest smile. She was also quite mischievous, very much as a child, but never lost that as she grew up. Joy was charismatic, warm and generous. She always wanted to make everyone happy.”

A photo of joy

Joy’s diverse nature and warmth will be reflected throughout the entertainment offering. With music, spoken word, storytelling, circus and children’s entertainment, as well as an engaging program of activities and workshops, there is something for everyone. In keeping with the event’s focus on mental wellbeing, wellness information rooms will be provided by community groups and organizations participating in 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 while emphasizing the importance of taking care of our mental health and well-being,” says Plover.

“The last few years have been particularly difficult for many people as they have been isolated and unable to access the help and support they need. There was a big split and I feel more than ever that we need an event like this to feel connected and bring the community together.

The Main Stage features an exciting lineup of top-notch live music throughout the afternoon featuring indie legend and ringmaster Jerry Fish, sure to wow crowds as always. Innovative trad and world music band Kila will entertain with their well known lively performances and Cork ska favorites Pontious Pilate and The Naildrivers will also perform on the main stage. Young musicians from Music Generation Cork City will perform an eclectic mix of music from their program on stage, followed by a magical musical experience from the Cork Pops Ensemble.

The Mad Hatter’s Tea Party tent, meanwhile, houses the acoustic stage, which will feature some of Cork’s best musicians. There, attendees can indulge in afternoon tea presented by Tara’s Tea Rooms of Cork.

Families have the opportunity to take part in circus workshops in the afternoon after being entertained by the unique Cork Circus Factory. Some of Ireland’s best known poets and spoken word artists will be featured alongside emerging talent on the Joy Sylvie Spoken Word Stage. With yoga, meditation, a mental health panel, arts activities, food stalls, outdoor games and not forgetting the vintage carousels at the carnival, you’re guaranteed an adventurous mix of entertainment.

The Cork Mental Health Foundation is Joy In The Park’s charity partner. They are celebrating their 60th anniversary this year and are committed to and support people with mental health issues. The Foundation will join the day to offer advice and information from a range of other mental health organizations and local support and community groups including Shine, GROW, Cork Counseling Services, Cork Women Traveller’s Network and the HSE Community Health Team.

“It’s important to balance that sense of fun, connection, and understanding while also raising awareness about mental health and well-being,” says Plover. “The event is completely free of charge and this would not be possible without the financial support of Cork City Council, HSE, IMRO and Jacobs. Joy In the Park will be a celebration of life while emphasizing the importance of taking care of our mental health and well-being as we bring the community together and find our joy.”

  • The event is supported with HSE funding through the Connecting for Life Cork program as part of the HSE Suicide Prevention Strategy for Mental Health and Cork Kerry Community Healthcare; Cork City Council Arts Office, Municipal Department and LCDC Community Grant, PARKS, Environment and Amenities, IMRO’s Sponsorship Scheme; 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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