Sister act at Barry's

THE doors of Northern Ireland's iconic amusement park will open for another year later this week – and two daughters will keep the faith with the promise the made their late father and the legacy he left them.

Frank Trufelli ran Barry's Amusements in Portrush for 35 years until his death 15 months ago.

Now his daughters Kristina and Lisa have taken oven the reins of the fun park that has brought excitement to generations, with the aim of continuing a family tradition that goes back over 80 years.

The sisters both have young families and will combine the running of their households with the running of Ireland's biggest amusements centre – scotching rumours that the site overlooking the Atlantic could be making way for private housing development.

Barry's will open its doors on Good Friday and its attractions will be in full swing through to the end of the school Easter holidays. After that they will be open at weekends until the full-time summer season begins in June.

"It's a huge challenge for both of us but we have got to know the business pretty well by helping our father in recent years", admits Kristina.

Throughout the winter the two sisters have supervised the 12 full-time staff licking the fun park into shape for the new season, ensuring the 13rides and countless games pass stringent industry safety standards, and in recent weeks 130 part-time staff have been employed after exhausting rounds of interviews.

"As local people we are very conscious of the importance of the complex to the local economy, and we have every intention of continuing to play that part", said elder sister Kristina.

Rumours have circulated in recent years that apartment blocks would put an end to the fun in the middle of the seaside resort, but they have been scotched by the constructions of two new attractions, costing 500,000.

A woman's touch is nothing new to Barry's since it was founded in the late 1920s by the sisters' grandparents Francesco and his wife Evelyn, a member of the famous Chipperfield circus family. Their grandmother and aunt ran the business for years before their father took over in 1972.

"It's a huge family tradition we are carrying on and we are proud to do it", says Kristina. "It's also a promise we made to our father and, of course, we will keep that."

Another young female member of the family will also put her expertise into the fun factory, Kristina's 14-year-old daughter Francesca.

Along with four-year-old brother Max, and Lisa's four children whose ages range from one to six, there is plenty of specialist knowledge of what the younger generation want from the fun park!

Meanwhile as the family look to the future, the history of Barry's has been published by a 67-year-old retired Belfast professor who fell in love with the famous fun fair at the age of four.

James Fairly – emeritus professor of zoology at Galway University – calls his book "Fun is our Business" and in 140, 000 words and almost 200 illustrations, it traces the birth and development of the Ulster institution.