Come celebrate Joy In The Park: A Cork festival that is both fun-filled and a fitting legacy

It will be a celebration of life; minding our mental health and well-being; and helping everyone find their joy
Come celebrate Joy In The Park: A Cork festival that is both fun-filled and a fitting legacy

The Lord Mayor of Cork, Cllr. Colm Kelleher, at the launch of Joy In The Park in partnership with Cork Mental Health Foundation. Celebrating life and raising awareness for mental health and well-being, Joy In The Park will take place in Fitzgerald's Park on Sunday, July 17, noon-6pm.

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 first ever ‘Joy In The Park’ event will take place in Fitzgerald Park in July, the family orientated free day will feature renowned music acts such as Jerry Fish, John Spillane, Kila as well as a myriad of spoken word, theatremakers, storytellers, children’s entertainers, circus performers, wellness activities, alongside a delicious food market.

‘Joy In The Park’ is the brainchild of Linda Plover, who has been behind the scenes at many events in Cork over the last two decades. And this is one of the most personal projects she has taken on.

“In June last year, my family lost someone very special and dear to us. Her name was Joy and she really was everything her name represents. Anyone who met her, fell in love with her warmth, kindness and sense of fun. She loved music and the arts, she herself wrote poetry and short stories and was a beautiful writer.”

Linda is very clear about the intention of the event. 

It will be a celebration of life; minding our mental health and well-being whilst bringing the community together.

“Joy In the Park is not her memorial however, it's rather her legacy. It will be a celebration of life; minding our mental health and well-being whilst bringing the community together. A lot of what has been programmed reflects Joy's personality; she had extremely eclectic taste musically and loved being involved in all sorts of activities. My intention was to capture that, but at the same time, this event is for every single person out there, it's about there being something for everyone - musically, artistically, participatory and everything in-between. 

Jerry Fish: To perform at Joy In The Park.
Jerry Fish: To perform at Joy In The Park.

The entertainment lined up on the day makes up a bumper schedule.

“We have Indie legend Jerry Fish, trad world music group KILA, Cork Ska favourites Pontious Pilate & The Naildrivers, The Cork Pops Ensemble and some very talented young musicians from the Music Generation Cork City Programming performing The John McCarthy Main Stage. 

"I wanted to acknowledge all the brilliant work of the late John McCarthy, who organised the Mad Pride Festival which also took place in Fitzgerald's Park some years ago; I feel he was very much at the forefront of opening up the conversation about mental health, fighting stigma and raising awareness, so in tribute, we have named the main stage after him.”

It’s not just the music that will make the day, there will be quite an emphasis on enjoying the day with a cuppa and a chat, as Linda continued.

“Joy loved tea! In fact she collected teapots. She had an Alice In Wonderland themed party for her 30th and so we will have The Mad Hatter's Tea Party Tent, with Tara's Tea Rooms from MacCurtain Street serving afternoon tea; this will also host the acoustic stage with an amazing lineup of artists and headlined by the mighty John Spillane. We have the Joy Sylvie Spoken Word stage with some incredible poets, writers, hip hop and spoken word artists including Cork's own acclaimed writer, Conal Creedon.”

There won’t just be songs, poems and prose on offer as there will also be an array of extra entertainment. “We have the likes of The Circus Factory, a procession of the pompous creatures from Cork Puppetry Company, storytelling, outdoor games, kinderama movement for kids, various crafty activities; we'll even have Pipers Vintage carousels and to complete the carnival vibe, we'll have a New Orleans style jazz procession by Rebel Brass as well as GMC Beats ‘Rap A Mile’ taking place at various times during the afternoon.”

It is extremely important to balance that sense of fun with connection and understanding, whilst raising awareness and supporting mental health and well-being and that is very much at the heart of Joy In The Park

Running throughout the day alongside the entertainment will be the wellbeing and mental health support aspect of Joy In The Park, Linda went into deeper detail about who is involved. “It is extremely important to balance that sense of fun with connection and understanding, whilst raising awareness and supporting mental health and well-being and that is very much at the heart of Joy In The Park. We will have The Support Hub with a number of organisations and support groups there on the day, offering information and supports including Pieta, Shine A Light, Jigsaw, MyMind, GROW, Cork Counselling Services, Shine, The Samaritans as well as the HSE Cork & Kerry Community Health Care Team.”

It’s not just talk and conversations that will be coming from these organisations Linda explained. “Some will also be holding a number of wellness workshops and activities from art-based activities such as working with clay to drumFIT and Tai Chi. What I love about these organisations getting involved and putting together these activities is that it enables people to approach these groups, to be comfortable seeking support or even just to join in and feel a part of something. As well as the workshops and activities, we have The Couch Sessions in association with mental health organisation Minding Creative Minds, which I'd like to point out is Ireland's first 24/7 (32 county and our Irish overseas) wellbeing support programme for the entire Irish creative sector. Essentially the living room is coming outdoors and there will be a number of mental health panels, podcasts, as well as a bit of craic and banter with Ringo Music Bingo and the Happiness Ensemble as part of 49th North Street well-being network.”

Organising this event has required several partners, especially to keep it a free event, Linda credits the support was given to help develop her original idea. “I needed to do something positive; a lot of people have been struggling with their mental health, heightened hugely through the restrictions of covid and as we move on from that. I felt now more than ever, we need an event that is both joyous and brings everyone together. Cork Mental Health Foundation came on board as the official charity partner and their support and guidance have been invaluable. The last few months have taken me on an incredible journey finding out how much help and support is out there and I want everyone to know about them!

Kila: Also on the bill for Joy In The Park.
Kila: Also on the bill for Joy In The Park.

"There are so many layers to our mental health and finding the right support is crucial, therefore it was very important to get as many organisations as possible involved and help increase awareness of all the supports out there. In terms of funding something like this, that has been another journey - as I say this event is for everybody and it is free. There is no way we would have been able to make this event happen if we hadn't received the appropriate supports and funding and so I'm extremely grateful to the HSE through the Connecting for Life Cork programme, as part of the HSE suicide prevention mental health strategy and Cork Kerry Community Healthcare; Cork City Council's Arts Office, The Community Section and the LCDC community grant, PARKS, Environment & Amenities; IMRO's sponsorship programme; 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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