Free family festival in Cork city park celebrates the life of a loved one lost

People will come together this weekend for Joy in the Park, to promote positive mental health, writes AISLING MEATH
Free family festival in Cork city park celebrates the life of a loved one lost

The former Lord Mayor of Cork, Cllr. Colm Kelleher at the launch of Joy In The Park in partnership with Cork Mental Health Foundation.  Included are Martin Ryan, HSE Connecting For Life; Brendan McCarthy, Cork Mental Health Foundation; Linda Plover, Joy In The Park; Gabriel Rossi, Cork Circus Factory; Eimear Hallahan (saxophone) Rebel Brass and Luca Andreoni (sousaphone) Rebel Brass. Pic: Brian Lougheed

THE summer of 2022 is one that is replete with the sensation of joyous release, as people are shaking off the shackles of lockdown, the music is flowing, festivals are in full swing, and the flasks and sandwiches are being packed for picnics once again as people are enjoying the long, bright days of July.

If you want to experience this sense of jubilation, then head to Fitzgerald’s Park in Cork city on Sunday, July 17, where there will be a wonderful and free family festival to enjoy.

Aptly named ‘Joy in the Park’, the festival is the brainchild of events manager Linda Plover, and runs from noon until 6pm.

Former Lord Mayor of Cork, Cllr. Colm Kelleher with Linda Plover, organiser and Brendan McCarthy, CEO, Cork Mental Health Foundation and Martin Ryan, Connecting for Life, Cork Programme, HSE at the inauguration of Joy in The Park.  Picture: Brian Lougheed
Former Lord Mayor of Cork, Cllr. Colm Kelleher with Linda Plover, organiser and Brendan McCarthy, CEO, Cork Mental Health Foundation and Martin Ryan, Connecting for Life, Cork Programme, HSE at the inauguration of Joy in The Park.  Picture: Brian Lougheed

Linda was inspired to organise this festival in celebration of the life of her stepdaughter who she sadly lost last year.

“ Not only was she my stepdaughter, she was also one of my closest friends. Her name was Joy and she really lived up to her name and brought so much Joy to everyone who met her. ‘ Joy in the Park’ will be her legacy. Joy loved music, writing, and she adored tea.

“She had an Alice in Wonderland themed party for her 30th birthday. Her personality and interests will all be reflected in the festival, which above all is hoped to spark as much joy as she did in her life.” said Linda.

Supported by Cork City Council, the HSE, and in partnership with Cork Mental Health Foundation, the fun-filled fiesta aims to raise awareness of mental health and suicide prevention, while at the same time being a fantastic family day out with live music, spoken word, children’s entertainment, workshops, and information stalls aimed at nurturing positive mental health for everyone.

Stef Mc Sherry of Kinderama
Stef Mc Sherry of Kinderama

The under sixes will enjoy activities facilitated by Stef Mc Sherry, founder of Kinderama, who will lead the little ones in make-believe adventures and energetic sessions full of music dance and yoga, which will be at noon and again at 2.30 pm.

“I believe that children can start from a very young age to develop practices such as yoga and mindfulness, which will empower them with the tools they need to stay well throughout their lives.

“Kids love doing yoga moves such as the turtle pose, which helps them to get in touch with how they are feeling, and of course they don’t even call it yoga. They are naturally joyous and playful. I also welcome parental participation, it’s good for their adults to play too,” she said.

Cork Circus Factory will also perform.
Cork Circus Factory will also perform.

The Cork Circus Factory will be there to dazzle with their performances, as well as Cork Puppetry Company’s ‘Pompous Creatures’ and ‘Da Silly Heads’ will have a 6 foot mascot walking around throughout the day. And if you want to chill out then Kelsang Dromla from Tara Kadampa Mediation Centre Cork will be holding free meditation classes during the afternoon.

Kelsang Drolma who will be leading the meditation sessions.
Kelsang Drolma who will be leading the meditation sessions.

There will also be a stellar cast of musicians including Kila, Jerry Fish, and Pontious Pilate & the Nail Drivers, Cork Pops Ensemble, as well as young musicians from Music Generation Cork City who will all be taking to the John McCarthy Main stage.

“Access to music for children and young people is facilitated by our programmes across Cork city. Self-expression, musical development, inclusion and the wellbeing of all our participants is made possible by our highly skilled and dedicated Music Education Team and we look forward to showcasing some of our talented performers at the festival.” said Aoibheann Carey-Philpott of Music Generation Cork City.

Writer Cónal Creedon will also be reading from his work.

“I’m so looking forward to being part of the ‘Joy in the Park’ festival. It promises to be a kaleidoscopic carnival atmosphere. It’s all about balancing that sense of fun whilst raising awareness for mental health and wellbeing.

“It’s very fitting that the festival offers a nod of recognition to my great friend, the late John McCarthy, a man who was way ahead of his time, championing and highlighting the issue of mental health, and fostering a general understanding of the importance of well- being,” said Cónal, who will be performing on the Joy Sylvie Spoken Word Stage.

There will also be a plethora of other talented writers and spoken word artists performing, including the bilingual Julie Goo, who will share some poems in both English and Irish through which she advocates for self care, and for minding one another.

“This festival is inclusive, necessary and shows how something beautiful can grow from something tragic. I think this will be a creative space where people can talk about mental health and connect with others.” said Julie.

John Spillane, The Finns, The Lost Gecko, Miss Paula Flynn, Annette Buckley, Lizard’s EG, Pat Carey and LOWmountain will all perform at the ‘Mad Hatter’s Tea Party’ stage hosted by Tara’s Tea Rooms.

Niall O’Driscoll from LOWmountain notes the importance of this event.

“When we were asked by Linda to take part in ‘ Joy in the Park’, it was a unanimous ‘Yes’ from all three of us in LOWmountain. This is about mental health awareness and creating an environment where speaking openly about it is so important, especially after the few years we’ve all been through,” said Niall.

“There isn’t a single person in the world who hasn’t experienced some sort of mental health crisis in their lives, be it a result of some inner anxiety or depression, or perhaps as a result of some outer influence like a bereavement or the breakdown of a relationship.

“On the surface, an event like ‘Joy in the Park’ promises to be a wonderful afternoon of music, fun and escapism for all the family, but at a deeper level it tells us that it’s normal to sometimes experience mental health issues, and perhaps even more importantly, that we’re not alone, and that it’s OK to speak openly and seek help.”

‘Psyched’ is a workplace mental health initiative of Cork Healthy Cities and Counties supported by Healthy Ireland, Cork City Council, Health Service Executive, UCC and community workplace partners.

One in four people will use a mental health service in Ireland at some point in their lives, but despite this, many people are reticent to discuss their mental health due to stigma. This needs to change.

PSYCHED is an acronomn for ‘Positive Support You Can Have Everyday’ and wants workplaces to get psyched about mental health, aiming to promote conversations leading to better understanding, to encourage employers to engage with staff to foster positive mental health in the workplace, and to celebrate good practice and innovation in mental health promotion.

Aisling Griffin from MyMind mental health organisation.
Aisling Griffin from MyMind mental health organisation.

‘Psyched’ will have a stall at the festival and encourage people to come and say hello and get more information about the valuable work which they do. Other organisations attending the event include Minding Creative Minds, Jigsaw,, Pieta House and Shine a Light.

Brendan McCarthy, Chief Executive Officer of Cork Mental Health Foundation, said: “We hope that this festival will bring positives to the community which will be diverse and wide- ranging, and as well as promoting all the local mental health services, will also give people a fantastic free family event in Fitzgerald’s Park.

“Cork Mental Health has been working in this area for 60 years, and we endeavor to promote positive mental health, as well as assisting those experiencing mental health issues within the community,” Brian added.

“This event will not only showcase some amazing musical and performance artists, but we also want to highlight the incredible work being done in our locality by many fantastic community and voluntary organisations.

“This event will give people the opportunity to meet the services face to face. From this, we hope that people will be more inclined to seek help when needed.” he said.

Joy in the Park is supported by HSE Connecting for Life Cork Programme, Cork City Council, The Community Section and the LDDC Community grant, PARKS, Shine a Light, IMRO’s sponsorship programme, Jacob’s Engineering, Minding Creative Minds and Music Generation Cork City Programme.

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