THE owner of one of Cork’s most iconic funfairs – Piper’s – which has been an institution in Kinsale for almost 90 years, said he cannot understand why Cork County Council is ‘so against’ him.
Brendan Piper also said that he fears the iconic funfair may never return to the tourist town.
Speaking to The Southern Star, Brendan said he was totally shocked, upset and annoyed when Council officials informed him, just three weeks ago, that he would need to provide a €60,000 bond before he could set up in the newly-resurfaced car park on Pier Road.
‘This was a bolt out of the blue and it’s a huge sum of money that I will not be able to come up with. They told me that the bond has to be in place in case the surface gets damaged by the building up and dismantling of the funfair for the summer season,’ said Brendan.
‘I was all ready to go this year after an absence of four years. I have my public liability insurance in place, my staff are ready to go and the rides have been serviced. But now I’m facing this obstacle. I was really looking forward to getting back to business this year.’
He added that it is impossible for him to secure a bond of that amount from the banks as he hasn’t been trading for the past three years due to Covid.
It was only last summer that the Council agreed to allow the funfair set up in the town park, while the Showman’s Wagon was removed from its location on Short Quay. Public protests were also held at the time to show support for Brendan and his family and he thought that everything was finally resolved. ‘Since I was told I needed this bond, I have been contacting companies all over the country that provide bonds, but with no success as I’ve been told this is a very unusual request.
‘I have also spoken to other colleagues in the Showman’s Guild and they have never heard of a bond of this magnitude,’ he said.
Brendan is even prepared to leave out three of his rides this summer, including the swing boats and giant slide, which require staking, in an effort to appease Council officials.
‘A local architect has even contacted me and he is willing to come in and survey the car park grounds before we start building up and again after we dismantle it.
‘Also, the remaining rides I have will be built on top of heavy duty plastic to protect the ground surface.’
He is now proposing to draft a letter from his solicitor, which would state that he will put right any potential damage to the park after the summer season.
‘The Council just don’t want to know, to be honest, and all they are saying is that if I can’t come up with the €60,000, then I can’t go into the car park. I met them recently again but their stance is the same.’
He asked them to reduce the figure of the bond but they refused. ‘We are just a small traditional family funfair and the only thing I have is the public support out there.’
Cllr Sean O’Donovan (FF) said it is ‘very unfair’ that the Council is asking Brendan to come up with this bond, especially when he hasn’t traded for four years.
‘These bonds are apparently very difficult to get and it seems like it’s another obstacle being put in front of him. He has done all that has been asked of him and yet the Council won’t budge,’ said Cllr O’Donovan.
A Council spokesperson said it was a matter between the Council and the potential licensee and they would not discuss it with a ‘third party’.