The ‘Perks’ of a 90th anniversary!

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The August 2019 winners of the Talbot Collection Cork Community, Business and Sports Awards is Ms. Sal Tivy Perks representing the team at Perks Funfair in Youghal, who have been serving the community of East Cork and beyond for over 90 years. This month’s award falls under the Business Award category.

The Awards Scheme is sponsored by the Talbot Collection Cork along with Award Sponsors AIB Midleton & Ballincollig.

William Edward Russell Perks or ‘Jumbo’ as he became known, was a big name for a little boy growing up at the end of the 19th century but it was a name he grew in to. Jumbo Perks would become synonymous with entertainment in Ireland and across the globe.

Theatrics ran in the family and at the tender age of 10 Jumbo knew three things, he loved music, having played for silent movies, he loved entertaining people and, perhaps making the strongest impression at this tender age, playing the violin was a hell of a lot easier than shovelling coal, a job he did after school. However, as “the man of the house”, looking after his widowed mother and her sister, a job was a job, regardless of how back breaking it was and he would do anything to make ends meet.

Caledonian Amusements was famous in Ireland in 1920s, and at the centre of it all was George MacDonald. At one time they were seeking a Fortune Teller for their show to which Jumbo’s Auntie Queenie applied. She wasn’t exactly a fortune teller but knew how to read people and so she got the job. The Perks were now in the funfair business. Jumbo, now a teenager, was put to work in the confines of the steam engine and he was back to shovelling coal, but Jumbo watched, listened and learned everything.

It was while working for George MacDonald that Jumbo met Violet or V as she was known, George’s daughter and immediately fell in love, much to the dismay of her father. They had many clandestine meetings making plans for their future. Eventually they married and went into business for themselves in the funfair industry. And they were on their own: George MacDonald made it perfectly clear that the MacDonald name would not be going with them and with his influence in the industry the newlywed couple found it hard to get suppliers on board especially those loyal to George MacDonald.

Read more inside the latest issue of Midleton & District News.