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Take our colourful guide to one of the oldest and liveliest festivals in Ireland held annually in Killorglin, County Kerry.
Welcome to Puck Fair in Killorglin, County Kerry. This is one of the oldest festivals in Ireland and it’s going to celebrate its 400th anniversary next year.
The origins of Puck Fair are disputed but the most famous legend relates back to the 17th century when Oliver Cromwell and his army were raiding Irish villages. They came across a herd of goats and all of them fled away except one. The king goat, Puck. He ran down to this village, Killorglin, to warn the village members. And they protected themselves because of his warning. So to celebrate him and to thank him, they have this festival every year in August.
So here we are with the wild mountain goat, King Puck.
There was a charter granted to the town. The English king granted the local landlord permission to have a fair here. He charged tolls to the people of the town. And its been going on ever since. That’s the documented proof. We beleive it was going on before that but we have no documentation. We actually have the original charter in our posession.
The first day would always be known as the Gathering Day, where the fair people used come in and gather and mix. The horse fair was on the first day. These were all, you must bear in mind, on the streets. So you’d have hundreds of horses on the streets on the first day.
Just loose. Loose. No health and safety, no barriers, no high vis jackets. The second day would be the cattle fair. That still happens on the street.
Shetland ponies and cattle on the streets.
Oh yeah, we saw some of that.
It happens with barriers and a little more safety at the moment.
And then the third day is called the Scattering. So the Gathering, the Fair day and the Scattering. And it has eolved now into one of Ireland’s top festivals. And in the recession we’re in, there’s thirty six hours of free entertainment.
No charge. No charge at all.
How do you choose the goat?
The goat isn’t chosen. That goat is a genuine wild mountain goat.
They’re very different sizes. Are they different breeds?
No. Just that that one came slightly bigger. He’s a child’s pony. That’s a child’s pony now for riding. That’s more or less for show. That’s more an ornamental pony.
So we’re here at Puck Fair and we’ve just listened to your band, Doctor Foxe’s Olde Timey String Band. And it was great. We really enjoyed it. And could you tell us the experience of playing here and how long you have been playing at Puck.
Yeah, yeah. We’ve been playing here for the last three years. I think the first year we played, we set the record for most gigs played by a single band during the three days of Puck. I think we played eleven gigs in three nights.
Oh my God.
Yeah, we almost died afterwards. And then we had to go to Galway and play more gigs.
And no Puck Fair would be complete without a pint of beer to celebrate the ocassion.