James Darmody – The Eccentric Five Club Juggler

James Darmody 1900

James Darmody, of Middlesex, Massachusetts (USA), was born November 19th, 1860 to Richard Darmody and Delia Susan McInerney. We don’t how he got started as a juggler, but we do know that he was one of the first performers to juggle five clubs and that he was also known for his “gun juggling” with a rifle. Darmody was a popular performer in the late 1800s and early 1900s. Below is a very rare picture of him juggling five clubs, taken from my collection. We know from newspaper clippings that he performed five clubs at least as early as 1903.


James Darmody 1905

Darmody was quite famous for his club juggling skills, offering $1000 to any juggler who could equal his skill. His gun spinning and manipulation was not as polished, with reviews stating that this part of his act was “crude and unanimated.” The club juggling part was always much better received. Darmody (2)

James Darmody 1900


James Darmody 1905

In 1899, Darmody was involved in a case of pre-automobile road rage when his buggy collided with another. The owner of the other buggy attacked Darmody, who defended himself by punching the man so hard in the temple that the man died as a result a few days later. James Darmody was acquitted of any crime as many witnesses testified that he was not the aggressor.

It is unknown when James Darmody’s career started or ended, but he was performing at least as early as 1897 (and probably much earlier) and at least as late as 1911. He passed away in Middlesex, Massachusetts (USA) on February 20th, 1952. He never married or had children.

Until recently, the four images above were the only of Darmody of which I was aware. However, fellow juggling historian Erik Åberg recently shared the following photo of Darmody with me .

Courtesy of the Erik Åberg Collection

What struck me right away regarding this photo was the fact that he was juggling three clubs of one type and two of another type. Most surprising was the fact that the three clubs at the top of the photo are identical to three clubs on display in the Museum of Juggling History, which you can see below.

These five-sided mirrored clubs were owned by George Moore, a juggler whose career was beginning as Darmody’s was ending. It is possible that these were passed down from Darmody to George Moore. It’s impossible at this time to say for sure.

There is much still unknown about James Darmody. If you have any additional information or photos, please contact me.

David Cain is a professional juggler, juggling historian, and the owner of the world's only juggling museum, the Museum of Juggling History. He is a Guinness world record holder and 16 time IJA gold medalist. In addition to his juggling pursuits, David is a successful composer, songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, and singer as well as the author of twenty-six books. He and his children live in Middletown, OH (USA).

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