Music, poetry and Mad Hatter tea party

The color purple, the mad hatter, eclectic music, vibrant poetry, fun and joy are just some of the things you can expect at Fitzgerald’s Park in Cork this summer. Carnival atmosphere, the first family day, joy in the parktakes place on Sunday, July 17 and promises to be a fun day celebrating life, the power of words and drama, connection and supporting our well-being.

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

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

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

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

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

She also liked tea and I mean really liked tea. She invented the “double dipper” which was a combo of Earl Gray and Yorkshire tea.

“She threw an Alice in Wonderland themed party for her 30th birthday, which reflected her character very well. It was the Cheshire Cat that suited her as she always had the biggest smile on her face. She was also quite mischievous, just like a child but only ever lost when she grew up. Joy was charismatic, warm and generous. She always wanted to make everyone happy.”

A picture of joy

Joy’s varied nature and warmth will be on display throughout the diverse range of entertainment. With music, spoken word, storytelling, circus and children’s entertainment, plus an engaging program of activities and workshops, there’s something for everyone. In keeping with the event’s focus on mental wellness, wellness information spaces are provided by community groups and organizations participating in the event, such as Minding Creative Minds, Jigsaw, Pieta House, Samaritans, Shine A Light and MyMind.org.

“This event is not a memorial to Joy, but rather her legacy and a celebration of life while highlighting the importance of taking care of our mental health and well-being,” Plover says.

“The past two years have been particularly difficult for many people due to their isolation and inability to access the help and support they need. There has been a huge disconnect and I feel more than ever that we need an event like this to feel connected and bring the community together.

The main stage will offer an exciting lineup of the best live music throughout the afternoon with indie legend and ringmaster, Jerry Fish, thrilling the crowd as always. Innovative traditional and world music group Kila will entertain with their well-known spirited performances, and Cork ska favorites Pontious Pilate and The Naildrivers will also make appearances on the main stage. Young musicians from Music Generation Cork City will take the 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 host the acoustic stage which will feature some of Cork’s finest musicians. During their stay, participants can indulge in afternoon tea presented by Tara’s Tea Rooms of Cork.

Families will have the chance to take part 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 be on the Joy Sylvie Spoken Word stage alongside emerging talent. With yoga, meditation, a mental health panel, art activities, food stalls, outdoor games and not to mention the vintage fairground rides, you are guaranteed an adventurous mix of entertainment.

The Cork Mental Health Foundation is Joy In The Park‘s charity partner. Celebrating their 60th anniversary this year, they defend and accompany 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 organizations and local and community support 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 raising awareness for mental health and wellness,” Plover says. “The event is completely free of charge, and it would not have been 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 by bringing the community together and finding our joy.

  • The event is supported by HSE funding through the Connecting for Life Cork programme, as part of the HSE Mental Health Suicide Prevention Strategy and Cork Kerry Community Healthcare; Cork City Council Arts Office, LCDC Community Section and Community Grant, PARKS, Environment & Amenities, IMRO 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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