Daring Dames Festival

Daring Dames is Europe’s only all-female circus festival, putting women circus artistes centre stage. Over weekend 24-26 May 2024, knockabout clowns, astounding acrobats and discussions showcase the very best female circus talent from throughout Ireland and beyond. Set in the beautiful surroundings of Achill Island, County Mayo, Daring Dames is entirely free to attend.

Daring Dames Logo

Join us at a weekend of female performance, talks and huge fun. Everyone welcome. Most events are free but booking advisable as spaces limited.

Want to perform? We welcome all applicants for shows, acts and works in progress. Please email ringmaster@circus250.org and we’ll be in touch.

Programme for 2024

Click on the tabs below to check what’s on each day:

Mulranny Arts Centre

Promenade Network Event - Photo by David Hegarty
Promenade Network Event – Photo by David Hegarty

1-4:45pm Producing in a festival & rural context

BURSARIES AVAILABLE. 5 x €150 travel/accommodation bursaries for freelance emerging producers available through Promenade. Please email Ciara O’Mahony at contact@promenade.ie for more details on how to apply.

Promenade logo

Join us for a Producers Network event hosted by Promenade with a special spotlight on producing in a festival and rural context. This event is for producers from any artistic field – whether you’re just starting out or more experienced. An opportunity to connect and meet like-minded peers in a supportive environment.

  • 1-2pm – Free networking lunch
  • 2-3pm – Panel discussion on producing in a festival & rural context
    Including Dea Birkett (Daring Dames) and Tara McGowan (Cairde Sligo Arts Festival) and chaired by Kath Gorman (Promenade)
  • 3:15-4:45pm – Free 25-minute 1-on-1 mentoring sessions with experienced producers for  any questions you have.

Mulranny Arts Centre

I am Irish yet?

8-9pm Associate Event: Kate Kerrigan – Am I Irish Yet? 

From being the Bombing Irish of Mrs Thatcher’s era to a reviled Plastic Paddy back home in Mayo, bestselling author Kate Kerrigan hilariously reveals what it takes to finally fit in small town Ireland in her taboo-breaking one-woman show. Am I Irish Yet? is a fabulously funny, bitter sweet journey into the dreams and disasters of every second generation kid who grew up in London calling somewhere else home. Suitable for audiences 14+.

Achill Sound Library

11:30am-12:10pm Desert Bloom

A storytelling show for very young children with Angelica Santander. For children 6 months to 2.5 years old and their families. 

Outdoors: Silver Strand, Dugort, Achill Island

12-5pm Daring Feats on the Ground and in the Air

An afternoon of outdoor performances from fire eating and clowning to dazzling aerial performances on Circus250’s aerial rig – the only high flying rig in Mayo! No booking necessary, suitable for all ages. Featuring performances from…

Missy Impossible

Nothing is impossible in this danger-fuelled show or all the family. Join Missy Fortune and enter the danger zone where attempting the impossible is always encouraged with fire eating, hand balancing and the world’s only chair of nails.

Doris and Mabel’s Book Club

Doris and Mabel

Join Doris and Mabel as they get lost in their imaginations and books burst to life before your eyes in this fun, madcap performance on Circus250’s aerial rig. Expect acrobatics, aerial rope, silks, silliness and trapeze!

Out of The Blue

Out Of The Blu

All the way from Turin! Wash away your troubles with the wonderfully subversive and interactive circus show by leading Italian female clown Fra Martó all about doing the laundry. Immerse yourself in laughter and bubbles. Never has trying to keep the house clean been so much fun.

Miz Meg

Miz Meg

Roses fear her, audiences adore her. This powerhouse of sass and unforgettable energy will be bringing her sensational, jaw-dropping bullwhip act to Daring Dames Festival.

What’s Watt!?

What's Watt!?

Old and young gather round
This sensory treat will have you spellbound 
For it is the grand unveiling of a new fangled, obtuse angled, slightly mangled kinetic motion machine!

The road to invention is certainly not smooth….especially if your assistant has a taste for engine oil! Join our pair of batty inventors as they struggle to repair and construct their contraption. Will the clumsy duo get their machine going in the end? Featuring acrobatics, hula hooping, escapology, juggling and lots of laugh out loud comedy. This show is suitable for all ages.

Tickets not required

Óstán Oileán Acla / Achill Island Hotel

9-10:30pm Daring Dames Cabaret – a free evening of Europe’s leading female performers and their astonishing acts

  • Angelica Santander with The Waitress, a hilarious clown act
  • Anita Woods with her mind-bending contortions 
  • Aoife Raleigh blending strength, skill and comedy in her tyre act T
  • Beryl and her precarious, hilarious tricks with her act Cupán Tae
  • Cake – music, acrobatics and comedy from Angelica Santander, Maria Cornocan and Aoife Raleigh
  • Lisako Ní Chionnaith-Fukuda with her formidable fiddle
  • Miz Meg, a knife-throwing sensation fresh from Circus Vegas
  • Missy Fortune and her 1950’s sideshow Guide to Being a Perfect Housewife
  • Molly O’Brien, a sensational hula hoop performer with her act Unleashed
  • Sadbh Grehan with her mesmerising upside-down chair balance act
  • Tina Machina with her glo club juggling act with intriguing costumes and traditional Swedish music 
  • Ursula Burns aka the Dangerous Harpist with extraordinary music and comedy mayhem

With live music and more to be announced…

Booking advisable as space limited. Suitable for audiences 14+

Óstán Oileán Acla / Achill Island Hotel

Fanque Farewell vintage poster

12pm Talk: Black circus performers in Victorian Ireland and Britain with Professor Vanessa Toulmin, Research Director for the National Fairground Archive at the University of Sheffield, UK

Join Professor Vanessa Toulmin, a world leading expert on the history of circus, in a lively illustrated talk about the long tradition of Black circus performers in Britain and Ireland from 1820s to 1930s. Followed by a discussion.

Tina Segner

1:30pm Talk: Circus and Getting Older with Tina Segner of Tumble Circus

Tina, one half of the legendary Belfast-based Tumble Circus, opens a conversation about ageing in the circus sector. “I’m part of the first generation of contemporary circus performers now getting older and I’m not thinking of stopping anytime soon. But… it’s not as easy as it used to be, I am not as brave and I don’t recover as quickly.” Hear people’s stories and thoughts (and share your own) about keeping on performing or leaving as we all inevitably age.

Grace O'Malley

3pm Talk: Grace O’Malley: The Woman Behind the Legend with Anne Chambers

The iconic female trailblazer ‘the most notorious woman in all the coasts of Ireland’ Grace O’Malley challenged and triumphed over the social and political barriers she encountered in the course of her long and pioneering life by land and by sea in a period of immense conflict and change.

Her biographer, author Anne Chambers, draws Ireland’s great Pirate Queen in from the vagueness of myth and legend and presents the historical reality of one of the world’s most extraordinary female leaders.

4:30pm Daring Debuts (Works In Progress)

Come and see debuts of the finest new female circus work before anyone else. Suitable for audiences 14+. Booking is advisable as space is limited.

  • Angelica Santander with Too Late, a clown performance all about procrastination, social protocols and our emotions.
  • Drag duo Mammy and @erin_go_ bragh (Kate and Leo Kerrigan) with a drag pastiche of Whatever Happened to Baby Jane?
  • Bruna with Waking Up, an acrobatic act which explores themes of resilience, determination and the will to push physical boundaries.
  • Our Daring Dames Festival mentee who will have been working with leading clown Francesca Martello through the festival weekend to develop a work in progress piece.

With more acts to be announced…

Feedback from 2023 festival

It’s really heartening to see a true advocate for artists, Circus and Street Arts – and all this in rural Ireland.

Producer, Galway

Art of any kind is incomplete without an audience and having someone like Circus250 brave enough to create a space where people can try out new work at the baby stages allows work to be developed and so the whole community benefits and flourishes. Thank you for that.

Skin ‘n Blisters, Daring Debuts

Being given a chance to show work to such a welcoming crowd and at such a beautiful venue is not something that comes around often. I can’t imagine a better space to allow myself to show in those the tender new stages of creation. What a gorgeous festival.

Lacuna, Daring Debut

I will never get tired of saying Thank you for creating a safe and friendly space for us to shine, for being brave and taking risks which encourage us to do the same.

Angelica Santander, clown

Daring Dames is an exceptional festival that showcases outstanding female talent.

Bunny Bunny, clown
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