Jimmy Bray. Photo: Fionn Große

Jimmy Bray

Host of Super Star Circus and part of the Circus Factory Youth team

When you were small, what did you want to be as a grown-up? I think I wanted to be a rock star. Or else a vet that treated only the cute animals, though I was quickly informed this was a less realistic option than rock star. I guess that’s why I became a Super Star!

Tell us about your career progression to your role today: I started juggling at 18 when I joined the DIT Juggling Society in Dublin. This led me on a detour from the planned computing degree. I found myself very comfortable with being on a stage and found an amazing community I had never known about.

In Galway, I was in a youth circus ensemble and began teaching as an assistant youth circus coach. After this, I spent a year in Berlin working for a youth circus called Cabuwazi. I spent some time in the US teaching circus to kids, before coming to Cork and getting involved with the youth circus program. At the same time, I was developing my own performance skills and have returned to university here in Cork, studying theatre and drama. Super Star Circus is a fun blend of teaching and performance. A lot of the tricks in our show are really easy, and at the end of the show everyone gets to use all the circus equipment and try the tricks themselves.

What is the most enjoyable aspect of what you do? Continuously learning. I can always be a better performer and a more competent teacher. Circus really pushes me to keep trying and keep learning, while also making learning fun.

What motivates you? Fear of entropy, existential dread, consumerism - the usual stuff, I think.

What advice would you give your 15 year old self? “Hold tight! This is gonna suck for a while, but it works out!” I’m sure there’s lots of more helpful things I could say like “start running” or “join a club” but I’ve seen far too much sci-fi to know that messing with causality is bad idea.

If you weren’t in the job you have, what would you be doing? I would likely be living elsewhere. I had intended to stay in Cork for a short time before moving to continental Europe to attend circus school but being involved with the Circus Factory and working with a group of wonderful young people really motivated me to put down roots.

What is your greatest life or career achievement to-date? I feel great gratitude about being able to do something I enjoy earning a living. It makes me happy to be able to do something that has a positive impact in the lives of young people.

For example, a lot of young people who come to Circus Factory workshops have never enjoyed competitive sports but really thrive in a more expressive activity. When I see students becoming more engaged in physical activity and becoming curious about learning, this always feels like a great achievement.

What is the life dream now? My main life ambition is to live a happy, healthy life and eventually be part of one of those gangs of elderly daily sea swimmers in my later years.

How do you switch off? Turning my phone off and reading books or walking in the local woods with the dog. Sometimes, surprisingly, going on a 20k run really helps me switch off if I have the right music and I’m in the right headspace. Then I can just go into flow and its real bliss.

What is your favourite Cork memory? So many to choose from, I’d need a lot of time to decide on just one!

What is your favourite place in Cork? I love the Marina. Something about seeing the ships and industry taking place so close to the city really appeals to me.

Do you have a favourite quote or motto? “…and that a moment of art, a moment parked in a car that sparks a poem or even just a flow is worth more than half the world will ever know.” Paul Curran – Drive.

When are you at your happiest? Probably when drinking coffee.

What is your hidden talent? I’m quite open about my weird talents being a circus performer, so sadly I don’t know that I have a hidden one.

What might we be surprised to know about you? Oh! I did a voiceover for the Morbegs when I was in primary school.

Anything else you’d like to share with us? I’m very much looking forward to seeing you all at Joy in the Park for Super Star Circus.


Name and position: Jimmy Bray, Host of Super Star Circus and part of the Circus Factory Youth team.

Age: 31 years young

Lives: A 110m elevation cycle home on Cork city’s northside

Pets: My fiancée and I share a home with a Jackabee (Jack Russel-Beagle cross) named Molly who features in 90% of the photos on my phone.

Favourite thing about Cork: Cork’s nice goldilocks zone, not too big and not too small. Plus, it has a mighty art community for its size.

Least favourite thing about Cork: Dereliction. So many of the buildings in the city lay empty, while people struggle to find homes.

One thing you’d change about Cork: Bring back the trams.