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April 3, 2022

Fascinating Pictures of Traveling Circuses in Northern Ireland in 1910 and 1911

In the early years of the 20th century, a number of circuses toured Northern Ireland providing entertainment, tricks, and a lot of excitement for the crowds.

Though the dim lighting condition inside the circus’ tent prevented images from being made of the acts in progress, local photographer Herbert Cooper was able to take pictures of the clowns, acrobats, and animals outdoors, as they rehearsed their acts and mingled with the local people.

During this time, he documented various circus shows that arrived in Strabane, a town in Northern Ireland, the three main ones being Duffy’s Circus, Buff Bill’s American Circus, and Hanneford’s Canadian Circus.

His pictures capture scenes from the parade in Abercorn Square, Strabane, from a wall of death act (using a car), and of the animals of the circus, including lions and a sign for ‘bears that talk’.

Performers with Buff Bill’s Circus

Performers with Buff Bill’s Circus

The Dixie Girls of Buff Bill’s Circus

Lady on a horse, with a clown watching

Clown on a horse, with a lady watching

Duffy’s Circus, two women and three children

Duffy’s Circus, three men and two dogs

“Funny George,” a clown with Duffy’s Circus

A child photobombs a man from Duffy’s Circus

Acrobats with Duffy’s Circus

Performers for Duffy’s Circus

A crowd of people around a clown and a donkey, 1910

Buff Bill’s Circus, two children and a man sitting on the steps of a caravan

An animal wrangler with Buff Bill’s Circus introduces a child to a baboon

Two clowns in front of a wagon

Two clowns in front of a wagon

Circus performers pose in front of a wagon

Circus performers pose in front of a wagon

Performers with Duffy’s Circus

The members of the Wilson & Duffy Combined Circus

Young performers with Hanneford’s Canadian Circus

Performers and horses with Hanneford’s Canadian Circus

The tent master of Hanneford’s Canadian Circus

Hanneford’s Canadian Circus, two children called Lola and May

A clown with Hanneford’s Canadian Circus

A clown with the Grand Circus

A clown with Scott’s Circus

A circus performer

(via Cooper Photographic Collection, Public Record Office of Northern Ireland, Rare Historical Photos)


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