Ireland’s friendliest little street festival

Above: The community out on the streets together.

Above: The community out on the streets together.

Every year the residents of Belmont, Donnybrook throw a party on their street. It’s organised by the Belmont Neighbourhood and Environmental Group, first set-up in 2005.

This 18th of July was a Saturday to remember with singing and dancing, and good food and entertainment for all.

Declan Hayden, Community and Social Development Officer with the Dublin City Council (DCC) Community Development Team (South East), provided great support to the street festival. The DCC provided the clown and face-painting on the day, which really added to the carnival atmosphere.

Jack Flash, a professional clown from Philadelphia, was a real hit, performing street juggling and general clowning about for the residents of Belmont. He has been performing for nearly 30 years and even graduated from Clown College!

Above: Jack Flash the clown playing with fire. Images supplied by Sean Brennan.

Above: Jack Flash the clown playing with fire.
Images supplied by Sean Brennan.

Flash served his time in the famous Ringling Brothers’ Big Top three ring circus all over America. The Brothers ran an intensive clowning course in Florida for nearly 30 years, wrapping up in 1997. Over 1,500 clowns graduated from the course, including Flash, who has since moved to Kildare. His most spectacular trick was juggling four flaming torches.

Local children had a great time playing safely in the street, free from traffic for the day. They played with hula-hoops and a ball on a string, and lined up together to watch Jack Flash, while enjoying all the tasty barbequed food and treats.

The entertainment continued long after dusk with street music played by various artists. Young Chris Wong, a singer from Ranelagh, just 16 years old, wowed the crowd and made a name for himself.

Sean Brennan of the Belmont Neighbourhood and Environmental Group said, “Move over Ed Sheeran, there’s a new kid on the block.” He’s someone to watch as he rises towards stardom. More music was provided by Live and Exclusive and The Ukulele Group under the stewardship of ‘Ilo’ Eileen Hassett. It’s not every day you get to see a ukulele being played, let alone seven.

Each year the Belmont Neighbourhood and Environmental Group acknowledge and award people of the neighbourhood for investing their own time towards the good of the community. This year they awarded younger members, with a joint award going to Denise Brennan (17) and Caroline Walsh (21). “Starting a number of years back, Denise and Caroline morphed from participants to volunteers when they became involved in organising the children’s activities for the street party, taking over the running of the family fun quiz, taking ownership of the raffle and much, much more,” said Brennan. “They have also immersed themselves in the activities outside the street party by occasionally helping out with the street clean, attending the AGM and submitting ideas. It is re-assuring and enlightening to see the mantel of volunteerism and community participation being taken up by our younger generation and this award, although it was a token, was richly deserved and equally appreciated by the recipients.”

Events like this really help create new community bonds and reinforce existing ones, just as community groups and DCC intend. Declan Hayden of DCC said their goal is to help support locals build vibrant communities in their own areas, to encourage the inclusion of people who have become isolated, and helping the local environment.

They have grants available each year to help groups such as tidy towns groups and neighbourhood and environmental associations. A lot of community groups across Dublin are getting assistance from the DCC in sprucing up their community with the planting of flowers, and raising awareness of their heritage through setting-up local guided tours and walks. The Belmont street festival is one of many such examples of aiding communities at the grassroots level. Keep up the good work!

By Keith Murphy

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