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ISACS Member - Spraoi St Patrick's Parade 2017 | Photographer Graham Cullen
20 minutes reading time (4018 words)

Youth Circus organisations across Ireland - An overview 2017-2018

Irish youth circus inforgaphic study

Discover the variety of organisations running youth and social  circus in Ireland across an infographic study. In 2017-2018, the Irish Street Arts, Circus and Spectacle Network interviewed seventeen organisations running youth circus activities in Ireland and Northern Ireland to map and build a national overview of youth circus activities in the country. The other aim of the study was to identify the sector's needs ahead of future Irish Youth Circus Focus and events. 


In 2017, the Irish Street Arts, Circus and Spectacle Network together with Galway Community Circus led the first Irish Youth Circus Focus at the National Circus Festival of Ireland. This gathering was followed by their second Irish Youth Circus Focus in 2018 and the first Irish Youth Circus Gathering hosted by ISACS member Cloughjordan Circus Club

We are looking forward to being involved in further gatherings among organisation from this fast-growing and stronger connected sector, cultivating the next generation of Circus artists in our country. 


But first, you can learn where the youth circus organisations are located, their size, the activities they provide, the skills they teach, and their main focus in our infographic study.


infographic study youth circus Ireland 2017 2018


Among the seventeen organisations interviewed, some organisations are leading experts in the youth circus sector with a dedicated space for youth circus teaching more than 3000 children a year. Others are emerging organisations who teach workshops to small groups of approximatively 15 children or are even specialised in another circus sector and branching out into youth circus. This data suggests that an average Irish youth circus organisation teaches an average of 550 children a year and is staffed by 17 individuals, although only 3 of them are full-time employees. Among them are 8 teachers, including 1 volunteer teacher; 6 staff working on administrative tasks, including 4 volunteers. In many organisations, some individuals perform multiple roles in the organisations. (eg: teachers and administrative tasks). 

Feel free to download our Irish Youth Circus infographics study 2017-2018 pdf version.


Many thanks to all participating organisations who participated and to our Communications Officer Charlotte Haffner who conducted the survey, as well as Lea Morin, our Communication trainee for assisting in the data analysis.

If you run youth circus activities and would like to be included in future surveys, please contact marketing@isacs.ie


Please consult our interactive map to locate the youth circus organisation nearest you.

You can also find more information on each survey participant below.


Galway Community Circus

galway community circus 1

Galway Community Circus is a charitable organisation dedicated to inspiring and empowering people of all ages and abilities through circus arts, using the fun and innovative nature of circus as an educational tool for personal, artistic, social and community development. They are an Arts Council strategically funded organisation with four strands of programme: Youth Circus, Social Circus, Artform Development and Wires Crossed. Artform development includes professional development programmes for youth and social circus teachers (in-house and international), international research projects, involvement in national and international networks and advocacy work for this artform in Ireland. Galway Community Circus is a pioneer of youth circus in Ireland, committed to the advancement of circus arts through the creation of exciting and enriching opportunities for young people, emerging circus artists and professionals to engage in training, creation and performance on an ongoing basis. Through its groundbreaking programmes and high-quality productions, Galway Community Circus has proven itself to be a cradle of artistic excellence and educational innovation in Ireland.

Galway Community Circus provides a welcoming and professional space where all members of the community, young people and adults alike, can learn, develop and share a diverse array of circus arts skills. They do this by providing a comprehensive range of weekly classes, specialised workshops and outreach programmes throughout the year. Galway Community Circus embraces circus arts through a range of activities, engaging with the worlds of street arts, physical theatre and drama. They offer education and training in a variety of circus skills such as acrobatics (tumbling, acrobalance, pyramids, handstands, trampette), aerial (trapeze, hoop, silks, cocoon, rope/corde lisse, Spanish web), equilibristics (tightwire, unicycling, rola-bola, stilt walking, globe, ladder), juggling and object manipulation (juggling with balls, clubs, rings, scarves, hats, cigar boxes, diabolo, devil sticks, staff, contact juggling, poi, hula hoop, plate spinning), and clowning, while developing performance and production skills.

Galway Community Circus has facilitated numerous outreach programmes operating under the Circus for All philosophy and for a wide variety of community organisations and projects, including School Completion Programmes, Down Syndrome Ireland, RehabCare, Educate Together Galway & Educate Together Claregalway, the National Youth Council of Ireland, Westside Arts Festival, Galway Autism Partnership, Brothers of Charity, DeafHear, Galway Traveller Movement, Youthreach, Youth Work Ireland, Jigsaw, Galway Youth Cafe and Foróige.

Galway Community Circus also works with our European partners such as Caravan Network to promote mobility of young people through intra-European training, networking and performance opportunities; mobility of artists and youth workers through training programmes and opportunities for networking and sharing best practice; research and development in the field of youth and social circus, funded through the Erasmus+ programme


Galway Community Circus is an ISACS Network member.

See Galway Community Circus' ISACS profile. | View Galway Community Circus' website.

Dublin Circus Project 

dublin circus project

Picture: Laura Ivers of Dublin Circus Project by SeveLighting

Dublin Circus Project (DCP) is a non-profit organisation working to develop the circus arts in Dublin through the provision of a training centre, offering adult and youth circus education and host circus events and performances in Dublin.

Dublin Circus Project runs a variety of youth circus training programmes for those aged 4 to 18 years old, from playschool right up through secondary school. Dublin Circus Project also works with community groups, home schools, summer schools, those who are at-risk and anyone else who would like to bring circus to the lives of young people. Dublin Circus Project has previously run Social Circus programmes with Direct Provision centres and other at-risk groups.

Their youth circus section is fast growing and has tripled within the last year. Dublin Circus Project runs teachers training and development days in partnership with other organisations such as Galway Community Circus, and keeps growing their youth tutor team, services and programmes including transition year, secondary school and primary school packages.


Dublin Circus Project is an ISACS Network member.

See Dublin Circus Project's ISACS profile. | View Dublin Circus Project's website.

Circus Factory 

circus factory youth programme

Circus Factory is a community of professional and aspiring circus artists who run Cork’s only dedicated circus training and creation space based in Cork City, Ireland. 

Circus Factory runs weekly classes for young people aged 7 -12 during school term times, and camps during midterm and summer. The weekly classes focus on circus skills such as Acrobatics, tumbling, Juggling, Object manipulation, Diabolo, Hula-hoop, Balance such as Tightwire, Globe, Stilt Walking,  Aerial such as Trapeze and Cocoon Silks and during the midterm camps Circus Factory bring in invited tutors to specialise in Clowning and Theatre. Their classes are fun and accessible, where they teach physical skills and aim to build confidence and team spirit in a non-competitive environment. 

They also offer outreach to schools, youth groups and at-risk groups and host circus workshops and games for kids birthdays. 


Circus Factory is an ISACS Network member.

See Circus Factory's ISACS profile. | View Circus Factory's website.

Cloughjordan Circus Club

Cloughjordan Circus Club

Cloughjordan Circus Club is a youth circus project in Tipperary run by Joanna Williams. She established Cloughjordan Circus Club in 2010. Since it has become a thriving circus club in the heart of Ireland. The club has performed in many St Patrick's Day parades and Festival of Fools and often invites in visiting experts to share new skills with the members. 

Cloughjordan Circus Club offers Circus Skills Workshops to all sorts of groups including adults, children or families; one-off workshops or longer-term projects and courses can be created specifically for your group. Jo has many years of experience creating large-scale circus theatre and site-specific performances for large community casts.

General skills workshops introduce participants to a wide range of circus skills. Skills offered include Juggling, Diabolo, Flower Stick, Hoop, Rola Bola, Tightwire, Unicycle, Stiltwalking and basic Pyramid Building.

Every year, each three weekly classes of 8-12 years and teen classes, prepares for a large performance project with members, often exploring Circus with another art form (circus and dance, music, percussions, theatre, circus and film, etc.). Members have opportunities to attend trips to visit other Circus' organisations or companies and take part in Masterclasses. Monday weekly classes are reinforced with additional artists- choreography/clown/percussion tutors coming on a sessional basis during performance projects.

Cloughjordan Circus Club invites international tutors over to teach on summer and Easter camps for skill development. Their piece in Limerick St Patrick's Day Parade with all 40 members received Best Creative Performance award in 2018.

In 2018, Cloughjordan Circus Club also led their first Irish Youth Circus Gathering and Youth Circus Festival.

Cloughjordan Circus Club is a not for profit organisation with a voluntary board.


Cloughjordan Circus Club is an ISACS Network member.

See Cloughjordan Circus Club's ISACS profile. | View Cloughjordan Circus Club's website.

C Circus K

c circus k

C Circus K is a Community and Contemporary Circus Training Group in Athy Town County Kildare, held in The Arts Centre Woodstock Street. The group trains on Thursday evenings. The classes are suitable for adults of all ages and for children 10 years old and up. The classes are made up of general circus skills and a specific skill. Among the skills, they teach are Juggling, Stilt Walking, Poi, Spinning Plates, Tight Wire Walking, Unicycling, Diabolo, Devil Stick, Hula Hoop, Manipulation and more.

The Community runs weekly Youth Circus Classes, annual performances and workshops.


C Circus K is an ISACS Network member.

See C Circus K's ISACS profile. | View C Circus K's website.

The Irish Aerial Creation Centre


The Irish Aerial Creation Centre (IACC) is a place for people to unlock their creativity. IACC is Ireland’s first purpose-fitted space for aerial dance and home to their founders Fidget Feet Aerial Dance Company.

The Irish Aerial Creation Centre offers different type of training for adults (explorers, improvers or skilled) in a safe and fun environment. IACC also provides some training for kids aged from 4 years to 17 years.

The main focus of the centre is providing a centre of excellence for the creation and education of aerial circus. Professional development is supported by the Irish Arts Council’s grant through residencies, classes, workshops and performance opportunities. IACC houses the first intensive professional programme for aerialists in the country and is a home for creativity in aerial circus on an international scale. IACC is also partners with Irish World Academy of Music and Dance, offering the only aerial dance courses to third level students in Ireland. With funding from Limerick City and County Council, the IACC is a unique way for individuals, communities and businesses, both local and national to discover talents they didn’t know they had and develop new skills and abilities they never thought they could achieve.


The Irish Aerial Creation Centre is an ISACS Network member.

See The Irish Aerial Creation Centre's ISACS profile. | View the Irish Aerial Creation Centre's website.

Taking Flight - Education & Performance

Taking Flight youth circus Radoslav Katanik

Picture: Stephen Cadwell with his daughter at Taking Flight, Dublin by Radoslav Katanik 

Taking Flight studio is situated on the Cross Guns Business Park, Phibsborough. Taking Flight is an organisation specialised in the training of verticals where one or more artists perform aerial acrobatics while hanging from a specially manufactured fabric or a rope; support like the trapeze, hoop, cocoon, and doubles. Taking Flight runs classes and workshops in creativity, helping you to develop your own movement vocabulary, personalise moves and create new acts.

The classes are open for aged from 1 year to 18 years and more. Taking Flight has also developed a Circus Arts Instructor training with ENC, Montreal and initiated a secondary schools’ project where they work at upskilling teachers to facilitate student-centred creative work within the context of a show and performance development.


Taking Flight is an ISACS Network member.

See Taking Flight's ISACS profile. | View TAKING FLIGHT's website.

Lioness Aerial Fitness

youth circus lioness aerial

Lioness Aerial Fitness was founded by Lisa Byrne. She was one of the first qualified pole and hoop instructors in Ireland. Now, the organisation works in Ireland and Northern Ireland but also Internationally. Lioness Aerial Fitness holds classes in Wexford and Waterford. They cater for all levels of ability and fitness and offer beginners and advanced level classes, from 2 years to 18 years and more. The classes are Pole fitness, Aerial Hoop and Flexibility classes. Lioness Aerial Fitness also provides also camp as well as circus shows and performances.

The youth classes allow kids to explore the world of circus performers in a safe and fun environment under the watchful eyes of 2 fully qualified and insured instructors. Students learn circus skills like Aerial Hoop, Aerial Hammocks, Pole, Acro Balance, Hula Hooping, POI and much more.


Lioness Aerial Fitness is an ISACS Network member.

See Lisa Byrne's ISACS profile. | View Lioness Aerial's website.

AcroAer Sligo

acraersligo yout circus

AcroAer is an aerial dance company offering weekly classes in aerial fabric, cocoon, hoop & trapeze to all abilities. The organisation was founded by Orla Buckley. AcroAer is located in Ardaghowen, Sligo and currently host training in two venues: The Nest, Quay Street, Sligo and Oxfield Centre, Drumcliffe, Co. Sligo. AcroAer Sligo aims to develop aerial skills thanks to circus classes and workshops for the people aged from 6 years to 18 years and more. Social Circus is their main aim.

This year coming 2019 they are planning to run an Aerial rigging course in Sligo, a sports first aid course and also an Aerial Hoop teacher training with Paper Doll Malitia at the end of October. They are also planning a two Aerial training event in March 2019 named 'Sligo Sessions' with workshops in Hoop, Rope, Cyr wheel and Hammock.


AcroAer is an ISACS Network member.

See AcroAer Sligo's ISACS profile. 

Aerial Cirque

AerialCirque parentchild workshop

Aerial Cirque was founded by Ria Murphy, an actress and international aerial performer born in Belfast, raised in California. Based on Exchequer Street in Dublin City Centre, Aerial Cirque is a home for budding and professional Aerialists. Aerial Cirque teaches adults and children’s aerial classes, aerial yoga, and flexibility classes, and provides stunning high-end aerial performances for festivals, corporate events, launches, nightclubs, runways, weddings, and more. 

Aerial cirque aims to improve aerial and acrobatics skills for people from 8 years to 17 years but also provides training for adults and teacher training programmes. Aerial Cirque allows developing group and solo performances thanks to their youth shows.


More information on Aerial Cirque's website.

Wobbly Circus

Wobbly Circus youth circus

Established in 2007 by John Paul Staniforth and Claire Keaty, Wobbly Circus is an award-winning circus and street theatre company. It creates innovative circus and street theatre shows and provides colourful interactive stilt walkers, unique entertainers and circus skills workshops for festivals, corporate events, weddings and other occasions. Dedicated to providing top quality unique entertainment Wobbly Circus brings together Ireland’s best professional circus, street performers and entertainers. Wobbly circus works also with some of Ireland’s best costume designers enabling them to create stunning costumes to suit any style or theme. Wobbly Circus has performed at many of Ireland’s biggest festivals in Ireland including Waterford Spraoi Festival Arts Festival, The All Together Now Festival, The Rose of Tralee & The Electric Picnic. It strives to create new and exciting circus and street theatre that is accessible to everyone.

Wobbly Circus youth programmes are aimed at young people 9 years to 18 years but also for adults. They aim to bring news skills such as juggling and object manipulation, balance with rola bola, stilts, ball walking, tightrope, unicycle… and acrobatics. Wobbly Circus mainly works with secondary schools but also primary schools on more occasional basis.

Wobbly Circus also works with youth and adult learning and special needs groups.


More information on Wobbly Circus' website.

Waterford Circus Project

waterford youth circus project endamoran web

Waterford Youth Arts is a youth and community arts resource which enables young people to participate in creative activity as a means of self-expression and development in a safe, professional and enjoyable environment. Waterford Youth Arts provides a comprehensive quality response to the creative aspirations and developmental needs of young people in the Southeast.

Waterford Circus Project is the circus wing of Waterford Youth Arts. Led by Aerial artist Enda Moran, it aims to bring circus skills from object manipulation, balance, acrobatics to theatre and storytelling, and performance to young people in Waterford.

Waterford Circus Project is aimed at young people 8 years to 15 years and aims to bring new skills and performance opportunities to young people in Waterford. The organisation regularly collaborates with schools and local communities to organise students exchanges and workshops. Their annual performances are supported by Waterford County Council. In 2019, Waterford Circus Project hopes to collaborate with Circus professionals and other youth circus groups.


More information on Waterford Youth Arts website.

In Your Space Circus

in your space circus youth

In Your Space Circus, based in Derry, is the Northwest’s leading Circus and Street Theatre Company. The charity is responsible for the Carnival of Colours, the Wonder Windows in Derry/Londonderry and many of the circus characters, shows and parades you see across N.I.

They run an in-house circus school working with more than 70 people each week from their premises on Waterloo Street. Youth Circus kids have a chance to get involved in the In Your Space Circus Troupe which performs at a range of Festivals and Events across Northern Ireland. Participants also have opportunities to take part in Masterclasses, Summer Camps, Peer Education programmes, Troupe development and a Junior Board. Circus skills taught include juggling, diabolo, flower sticks, tumbles, acrobatics, trampette, stilt walking, hula hoop, rola-bola, aerial, clowning, and character creation. 

In Your Space also provides circus workshops to some of the regions most disadvantaged children and young people through their Good Relations, Mental health focussed and Outreach programmes. The workshops focus on developing confidence, self-esteem, teamwork and communication using Circus Skills and Performance as a vehicle for learning. Their team of tutors have undertaken training in Social Circus (working with those experiencing disadvantage), Holistic Circus (working with those with disabilities) as well as Child Protection and First Aid training.


More information on In Your Space Circus website.

Belfast Community Circus

Youth Circus belfast community circus school Cornmarket Kathryn Carson

Belfast Community Circus School was set up in 1985 to promote personal and community development through the teaching of circus skills. Belfast Community Circus School operated workshops and created shows in a variety of venues before moving to into Ireland's first dedicated circus building in the heart of Belfast's Cathedral Quarter in 1999. Since moving into their Gordon Street premises, Belfast Community Circus School has seen a massive growth in all aspects of its work including youth circus, professional development for artists, performances and outreach work involving travelling to youth, community centres and prisons to take workshops as well as bringing circus to people with challenging background and people with mental health disabilities.

They teach young people from Belfast and its surrounding areas a variety of circus skills (clowns, juggling, stilts, object manipulation, acrobatics, tightwire, Chinese pole,  trapeze, aerial rope and hoop). Their mission is to: 'Transform lives and communities through the power of circus arts and street theatre'. They are one of the most prolific arts organisations in Northern Ireland and a leading light in the international world of social circus. They have programmes throughout Belfast and further afield. One programme they started in Lisburn has now become its own Circus School and functions separately from Belfast Community Circus School. They are also a training school for professional teachers and performers of circus arts. Belfast Community Circus School has links with many overseas circus schools, and often organises trips to visit them.

The Belfast Community Circus School produces a number of shows featuring young people each year. Performances take place in the Circus School and on the streets, including annual shows in the Festival of Fools. The Circus School also programmes a season of street theatre running each Sunday over the summer months in Cotton Court in the heart of Belfast's Cathedral Quarter. Acts featured are a combination of artists based in Belfast and visiting artists from Europe, USA and Australia. In addition, the Belfast Community Circus School has established a social economy trading wing called Premiere Circus. This operates as an agency securing work for artists based in Belfast who work across Ireland.


More information on Belfast Community Circus School website.

Streetwise Circus (Morton Community Centre)

Streetwise community circus

Streetwise Community Circus Workshops (est. 1995) offers a wide range of circus workshops available throughout Northern Ireland run by staff from our team of over 30 experienced tutors.

Streetwise Community Circus Workshops aims to make circus skills accessible to people throughout Northern Ireland, irrespective of gender, age, disability, or economic, religious or cultural background, by providing circus workshops throughout the community run by teams of experienced tutors. Social circus is the main focus of their organisation and they run many outreach programmes such as 'ag-ibility', disability equality and challenging behaviours training for people with autism, dementia, awareness, Alzheimer and hearing disabilities.

Streetwise Community Circus Workshops aims to make circus performing/teaching a viable and sustainable living for their members by providing them with training in the form of clown training, disability awareness and providing directors for acts, providing samba training and the provision of facilities to help develop new material. They also provide facilities to help develop new material, of high quality to raise the standards in performance, act development and creativity within their membership. Tutors are provided with training in teaching circus skills, social circus, 1st Aid, Child protection issues, health and safety, disability awareness and Makaton, to make their workshops an inclusive and safe environment for individuals to participate in circus skills.

Streetwise Community Circus Workshops’ aim is to develop new markets for performers and circus workshops and increase existing markets by making acts and workshops available throughout Ireland but Streetwise Community Circus Workshops also works in partnership with challenging behaviours and social circus organisations in Montreal.

Streetwise also provide a wide variety of circus acts, mobile characters, carnival packages, even stage shows and are specialists in live street entertainment.


More information on the Streetwise Community Circus website.

Community Circus Lisburn

ACNI FoF CommunityCircusLisburn Image Pictured are Samir Javed Faith Flynn Alex Magee and Anna Hawkins from Community Circus Lisbun

Community Circus Lisburn (CCL) is an independent youth circus based in Northern Ireland’s third largest city. It is a registered charity run by a voluntary committee and a contracted Project Manager.

Community Circus Lisburn started as an outreach project led by Belfast Community Circus School in 2001.  Its success inspired the local community to form an independent youth circus, so the benefits to the young people in the area could continue. Community Circus Lisburn was constituted in 2003 and has grown from strength to strength, including the development of an outreach program, and in 2019, an early years project.

Community Circus Lisburn works to develop circus arts in the local area, which includes the city of Lisburn, and the surrounding rural area. They provide access to circus training for children, young people and members of the local community through workshops. This includes a regular program for ages 8-18 on Tuesday nights at the ISLAND Arts Centre, where they are a resident arts company. They also run outreach workshops with local schools and community groups for ages 2-25.

Their regular program has performance opportunities throughout the year, including a major performance in December at the ISLAND Arts Centre, local carnival parades, an intensive creation week over the Easter break, and since 2015, participation in Festival of Fools.

Community Circus Lisburn have an emphasis on accessibility, the use of circus as a tool for personal and community development, and increasing the profile of circus in the local area.

They have a youth-led approach, with regular opportunities for young people to input on the focus of workshop programs and performances.

Creativity is an important part of the regular program, alongside increasing circus skills, transferrable skills, and above all, empowering young people to greater realise their potential and develop creative expression.


Learn more about on Community Circus Lisburn Facebook page

Interested in getting involved in the sector? Join the Irish Street Arts, Circus and Spectacle Network today!

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