History of Barry’s Amusement
We are not quite sure why the five Chipperfield sisters and one brother brought their unique blend of plays and musical show to Ireland. But back in the 1920's it was certainly a brave and radical step. They were also at the forefront of technology bringing with them one of the earliest movie projectors and introducing many to their first experience of "moving pictures".
As they toured local towns they built a reputation for themselves and such was the esteem in which they held that, when the Royal Italian Circus came to tour Ireland in 1923, they asked Evelyn Chipperfield, the eldest of the sisters, if she would act as their agent.
This was how Evelyn met Francesco Trufelli. He was the director of the circus and a former high trapeze artist. The two fell in love. Evelyn was already in love with Ireland and it was not too difficult to persuade her sweetheart to stay.
Together they continued to tour Ireland before, in 1926, being invited by the Railway Company to set up a permanent site in Portrush. The company had invested heavily in the new station and the Northern Counties Railway Hotel and felt they needed some form of entertainment for the expected visitors.
The young couple jumped at the chance and Barry's was born. But why "Barry's?" Well, it was felt that "Chipperfield's" was too long and "Trufelli's" well, too foreign. So it just happened that the first delivery lorry had the name Barr on it so "Barry's" was chosen.
The first ride was a three abreast Gallopers, followed by Swing Boats, a Dodgem Track, Skittles and a Ferris Wheel. The first Dipper was imported from Germany in 1939 and was all made of wood. Unfortunately it blew down in the Big Storm of 1942 and the shortage of timber meant that it could not be rebuilt. The salvaged timber however was used in the construction of a new dodgem track and some of it is still there today.
The war was, of course, a very difficult time but it also saw the arrival of Americans and in particular the 101st Airborne Division. They stopped off in Portrush for training on the beaches before going to northern France, although it was rumoured that they spent as much time on Barry's boating lake as they did on exercise, perhaps that's why they lost Private Ryan!
The Christmas of 1942 was very special for the children of Portrush. The American soldiers decided to throw a party for them. Barry's was specially opened with free rides and the soldiers provided ice cream, sweets, cakes and even Coca-Cola. Some local people can still recall the excitement of it all.
The war over Barry's continued to expand as more and more people flocked to the "Port". More rides were added and as entertainment technology advanced so has Barry's.
It still remains true however, to its motto of "fun for all the family".