The Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus, the “The Greatest Show on Earth,” is closing in May after 146 years of performances. High costs and dwindling attendance following an earlier decision to remove elephants from the show were cited as reasons. A 19th century form of entertainment couldn’t survive 21st century audiences.
Brothers John Ringling North and Henry Ringling North, heirs to the five founding Ringling brothers, sold the circus in 1967 to the current owners, ending more than 80 years of Ringling family control. The brothers became Irish citizens in the early 1960s, shortly after Henry purchased Northbrook, their father’s ancestral home, at Kilconnell, County Galway.
A collection of 1,200 books belonging to Henry was bequeathed to the James Hardiman Library at NUI Galway in 2014.