Circus performers forced to flee floodwaters in Co Cork

Cast and crew of Circus Vegas camp out on road in Mallow after abandoning main tent

Up to 60 members of Circus Vegas have had to camp out on the main road in Mallow after abandoning their 'Big Top' tent following flooding by the Blackwater river at Mallow racecourse over the weekend. Video: Olga Fitzgerald

 

Up to 60 members of the Circus Vegas show - many with families - are camped along the side of the road at Mallow, Co Cork , after flooding forced them into to abandon the “big top” tent on Friday night.

Organiser Jonathon Paolozzi said the circus battled through the night to rescue large American trailers including mobile kitchens, bathrooms and living areas, all of which had to be towed through flood waters, which came to within inches of the tops of the white railings along the racecourse.

As families including children and two babies scrambled to safety, floodwaters from the Blackwater river invaded the racecourse from three sides.

Circus Vegas vehicles parked in Mallow. Photograph: Jonathon Paolozzi
Circus Vegas vehicles parked in Mallow. Photograph: Jonathon Paolozzi

Seating, curtains and props in the main tent were hastily dismantled and taken to higher ground on the Killarney Road, but the tent itself could not be taken down as waters rose above guy lines.

In rain and darkness, the cast and crew moved their belongings and families to safety, using tractors to tow some of the larger vehicles.

Remaining shows on Saturday have been cancelled as the circus organisers assess the damage and the prospects for moving on to Tralee as planned on Sunday. Refunds are being paid to ticket holders.

“It was very sudden. We were lucky to be warned by a groundsman who knew what happens when the river bursts its banks, it was all around us at one stage”, said Mr Paolozzi.

Performers were forced to flee rising floodwaters. Photograph: Jonathon Paolozzi
Performers were forced to flee rising floodwaters. Photograph: Jonathon Paolozzi

On Saturday afternoon as the circus crew were hoping the floodwaters would abate, Mr Paolo said the danger was that rising winds would make it too dangerous to take the tent down.

“We will have to see. In the meantime we are living on the side of the road with traffic going by at 100 km/h and we are trying to keep children from running out the door”, he said.