Clowning: Fossett’s Circus is back on the road


The Fossett’s Circus mistress of the ring said the pandemic was the first time in more than 130 years that they had to stop filming.

However, the circus community in Ireland is slowly returning to normal.

Henry McKean met Fossett’s Circus in Kilkenny for Current affairs lunch.

Mistress of the Ring, Marion Fossett, says when the opportunity presented itself, they seized it.

“We’re in the circus business, we’ve been touring Ireland for 133 years – and the first thing that got us off the road was COVID.

“It was very difficult during the confinement; we have survived two world wars, a rise and a civil war and nothing has stopped us.

“COVID came and shut us down – all the circuses, all the funfairs, just shut us down dead.

“But luckily this year … Minister Catherine Martin has developed a live performance support program to try to help get light entertainment back on track.

“Let’s be honest, we all need a little bit of joy.”

‘The hardest’

The company was recently able to take a short 10 week tour of Ireland.

Marion says: “It was just wonderful to be back – the restrictions, of course, were 50 people at the start of our tour.

“It was the most difficult I think, playing in front of 50 people.

“But we take social distancing and COVID protocols very seriously so that everyone can come safely.

“The warmth and welcome from the people when we came back to the towns we visited.

“For coastal racing, we’ve actually been riding the exact same towns at about exactly the same time for 85 years.

“Like a calendar, you can set it.”

And she says it’s up to them to keep the show going.

“My mom was 90 this year and my mom has spent her entire life on the road touring with circuses.

“She came to Ireland in 1952, met my father and married him and never left.

“So her whole life has been on tour, she found the lockdown extremely difficult and I was extremely worried about her.

“So one of the reasons, when the opportunity for the grant arose, I specifically said, ‘Let’s do it to get it back on the road.’

“And the transformation on her has been wonderful.

“Remember that you have the responsibilities of all your ancestors… we are six generations.

“They survived it and did it and went on.

“So that rests on your shoulder to make sure you do the same and keep going.

“It has to improve and grow, and that is what you are striving to do.”

Edward Fossett – a fifth generation artist, also known as Otto the Clown – says people appreciate him.

“Everyone needs a little happiness in their life.

“It was hard to make people laugh, but they come and they laugh, they enjoy the show.

“This is what we are trying to do.”

Send the clowns off: Fossett’s Circus is back on the road

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Main Image: Photo by: Facebook / Fossett’s Circus

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