Every year, on August 10th, 11th and 12th, a town in the southwest of Ireland celebrates a festival with a unique tradition. For as long as locals can remember, a male goat has been captured from the local mountains, brought into the town, hoisted on a tower and declared a king for three days and three nights. Killorglin, County Kerry, is the home to one of the unique festivals in the world.
What may seem like a strange tradition is now a world renowned festival called Puck Fair. The roots of the festival are shrouded in mystery. The first written record of the festival comes from 1603 when King James I granted legal status to the fair. However, it is believed that the fair is much older than this. One of the legends which surround its existence comes from the Cromwell invasion of Ireland. When English soldiers were rampaging through the local area, they frightened a mountain goat which ran into the town of Killorglin, warning the locals. Most likely this festival can trace its roots to pre-Christian paganism. A horned goat was a symbol of fertility, and the locals would have honoured the animal in the hopes of a good harvest.
Old & New Traditions
The festival still maintains some of its ancient traditions. It still hosts a cattle and horse fair, where farmers buy and sell livestock on the open streets. It is also a traditional fair for nomadic Irish travellers, a distinct ethnic group in Ireland. For generations, these people have travelled to the festival.
Puck Fair now takes on a modern element. Live bands take to a stage in the centre of the town. Bars stay open until 3 am, serving the many visitors come to the festival until the early hours. Even the local legal system supports the fun of the festivities. Local District Court Judge, James O’Connor, said: “Puck Fair stays at 3am and will stay until 3 am as long as I am sitting here.”
If you are looking for a unique festival to tick off your bucket list, then look no further than Puck Fair.
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