A picture of a Barrys funfair at Lansdowne Green in Portrush in the late 1920s.
FOLLOWING the news that the North Coast's premier amusement park has been put up for sale, local politicians have had their say on the recent developments.
Last Friday, the Trufelli family – who currently own Barry's - announced that they are selling the business as a going concern. Almost immediately, speculation began to mount that property developers would be the most likely buyers, whilst a Belfast-based adventure centre was also believed to be in the running to purchase one of Northern Ireland's best-known entertainment venues.
Shock was the overriding emotion amongst local elected representatives following the news. UUP councillor Richard Holmes described Barry's like the “the jewel in the crown of Portrush’s tourism scene”.
In a statement, the UUP's East Londonderry candidate said: “This has obviously been a difficult decision for the Trufelli family, and it will be an anxious time for the staff who face an uncertain future as the business changes hand.
“The Trufelli family have clearly stated that they want to pass on the baton after almost 100 years and it is essential that the business is maintained as part of the great tourism offer that Portrush possesses. Barry’s is as synonymous with Portrush as Harland and Wolff’s Samson and Goliath are with Belfast. It would be sad to see the iconic business making way for development land,” he added.
Sinn Féin MLA Caoimhe Archibald described Barry's like "an institution", a point which was reiterated by the SDLP's Cara Hunter.
In a statement, Ms Archhibald said: “Barry’s is a local institution and news that it is to be sold will come as a shock to many.
“Barry’s Amusements has been a landmark in Portrush from 1926, it is a place that many people will have fond memories of and indeed the place many local young people would have gained their first job,” she continued.
Cllr Hunter added that she hopes a resolution can be sought surrounding the sale of the popular North Coast venue.
“It is welcome that the 11 full-time staff from Barry's Amusements will remain employed throughout the process. I will seek to ensure that they are kept updated through the selling process. I hope a buyer can be found soon and Barry's will remain a North Coast institution, bringing joy to many, for years to come,” she said.
DUP MLA Maurice Bradley highlighted the fact that Barry's Amusements holds a special place in the hearts of many local people.
“When we think of Portrush – we think of Barrys,” MLA Bradley said in a statement. “Barrys holds a special place in all of our hearts and throughout the years it has helped make many memories for both local families and those from further afield.”
He continued: “I know that this decision would not have been taken lightly by the Trufelli family, and I am hopeful that a buyer will be found and that the full-time staff employed there will be taken on.”
The SDLP's John Dallat says that local people are indebted to the Trufelli for the years of many happy memories.
"As a community we owe a debt of gratitude to the Trufelli Family for the huge contribution they have made to Portush since 1926 spanning many years and covering a huge span of history," he said.
"As a young teacher in my first post in Donegal in the 70’s I brought schoolchildren to Portrush where I knew they would be safe in Barry’s, looked after and given the time of their lives.
In the evening I was given enough money back to buy each child a meal in a fish and shop across the way. That is my lasting memory of a family that wasn’t in the business to grab all but to send each and every child home with lasting memories of an experience which was unique to Barry’s," added MLA Dallat.
At this stage, the facility remains on the market, however, the feeling remains clear that local politicians do not wish for any property development at the Eglinton Street site.