Cullen’s Funfair hit hard by coronavirus

The proprietor of the famous Cullen’s Funfair says COVID-19 is likely to set business back by at least five years.

Monday, 25th May 2020, 5:02 pm
Sean Cullen.
Sean Cullen.

Sean Cullen told the ‘Journal’ that the fairground season has effectively been wiped out by the coronavirus.

The 160 -year-old family-run company that has been entertaining people all over Ireland since the 1860s has had to borrow more money just to get through the crisis.

“This is going to have a longer term effect on businesses like ourselves where you mightn’t get out this season and you may get back out next season but because we’ve had to play catch up and take out more borrowing in order to keep our equipment and survive it means the ongoing effect of this will be much longer. It will put us back about five years,” he said.

Cullen's Funfair at Ebrington in the pre-COVID-19 era.

Mr. Cullen said the level of COVID-19 support from government for family businesses like his was limited.

“Things like funfairs are so far down the list of what people feel are priority businesses. No funding or consideration has really been given to this type of business.

“They have given us a little support within the broad spectrum of the granting system which they give the self-employed. It’s not specifically geared for us but it’s geared for self-employed people,” he said.

That it was no longer going to be business as usual for the outdoor entertainment sector became apparent just before St. Patrick’s Day.

“We went to Newry, paid for the site, paid for all the advertising and fencing and security and were ready to open on the Friday but had to pull the plug because the coronavirus had taken a new leap forward,” said Mr. Cullen.

“As far as I’m aware it’s going to be at least August in terms of doing an event. Even at that our season is coming to a close in September. So our summer season is pretty much wiped out.

“Our entire family depend on whatever we make from our summer season. So therefore your entire family’s total income has been annihilated,” he said.