Killorglin, Co. Kerry is the venue for one of the oldest and definitely most unusual festivals in Ireland. The festival is held every year in early August for three days, when King Puck is honoured over three raucous, wild and amusing days and nights.
Before the festival begins, a group of people go up into the mountains and catch a wild billy-goat, the goat is then brought back to the town and the Queen of Puck Fair, who is a sixth class student form Scoil Mhuire, Killorglin crowns him ‘King Puck’. The goat is then placed in a cage and hauled up high over the town and the festival commences. The most common story relating to the origins of King Puck, relates that while Cromwell’s roundheads were pillaging neighbouring villages, they routed a herd of goats, the billy goat or ‘puck’ broke away and headed towards Killorglin. His arrival in the town, soaked with sweat and exhausted alerted the townspeople to the coming danger and gave them time to protect themselves and their stock.
Another legend relating to the festival details that an Act of British Parliament empowered the Lord Lieutenant in Dublin to make an order making it unlawful to levy tolls at horse, cattle or sheep fairs. Tolls in Killorglin were collected by Mr. Harman Blennerhassett. He enlisted the services of the young Daniel O’Connell who directed Blennerhassett to hold a goat fair as goats were not covered by the legislation. Thus the fair was held with a goat hauled high over the town to show to all that the fair was indeed a goat fair. Blennerhassett collected his tolls and the town gained a king.
Nowadays the festival contains a very comprehensive list of events which includes a horse fair, cattle fair, traditional Irish music sessions in countless taverns and on stands in the town, Irish set dancing, street performers and national and international acts on stage trucks around the town.
Russell Shortt is a travel consultant with Exploring Ireland, the leading specialists in customised, private escorted tours, escorted coach tours and independent self drive tours of Ireland. Article source: http://www.exploringireland.net
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