fools copyThe Festival Of Fools,  now celebrating its 10th year, has become a rite of Spring on the streets of Belfast. A feast of Street Theatre from international performers, purveyors of slapstick, juggling, magic, acrobatics and general mayhem, which has brought laughter and fun to an ever-increasing audience. Its been possible to present this year on year with a package of funding from both public and private sponsors.

This year has been especially poignant as the familiar face of Mike Moloney, co-founder of the Belfast Circus School and stalwart of the festival, is absent. Mike decided to perform his own magic trick by slipping of his life long clowning suit and setting off to create madness and mayhem in the after show. A sad event for those who had the pleasure of making his acquaintance, but are grateful for the legacy of his foresight. He, a native of Australia, was transported to N.Ireland when the darkness hung on the country like a shawl. That was not so much a challenge as a prop for Mike as he drew colour, humour and life from its shadow on to the street with his madcap approach to a problem. “He didn’t run away to join the circus, he ran away to create one”

A further sadness is that the Festivals funds are under threat again. A consequence, no doubt, of austerity and the need to tighten the collective belt and live within our means, as prescribed by our Government. While the millionaire cabinet and its apparatchiks quaff a fine Chardonnay ‘Operation Scrooge’ seems hellbent on stealing our spirit.

I make the annual pilgrimage to the Fools along with lots of other regulars. Weather is always an issue but we are masters in the art of rain.  Seeing the mirth in the faces, old and young and younger, am I to believe  this is money ill spent? These are the faces of the rate payers, the tax payers, the electorate, and the next generation of citizens. Beware you who would deny them the pleasure of joining the circus. I would call you fools but you are not deserving of such an honour.


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