Only in Ireland would a goat be crowned king. The oldest known festival in Ireland, the Puck Fair, is held in Killorglin each year on 10, 11 and 12 August. It is a glorious three day celebration where a mountain goat is crowned king and honoured on the banks of the Laune River. So how does this all work?
Gathering Day is August 10 where a goat is captured from the mountain and brought back into town and given the royal honour of becoming King. The Puck Fair begins with a parade of colourful floats, marching bands and entertainment. It is the main social and cultural event on the Killorglin social calendar which draws many visitors from around the globe.
The parade floats pass through streets lined with people entertaining them as they go. This lasts almost all day as everyone gets into the festival spirit. Late afternoon the last two floats to arrive are the Queen and the King. The Queen of the Puck Fair is one of the local school girls who have the honour of crowning the captured goat King Puck. The King is welcomed into the town and gets erected on a stand in the centre of town to reign over his subjects for the three day festival. On the final day, August 12, which is called Scattering Day, King Puck gets dethroned with a closing parade. He is then given his freedom and released back into the mountains to rejoin his fellow goat family.
Puck Fair comes from the Irish words Aonach an Phoic which translates to mean Fair of the He Goat. It is a time where everyone in the village comes together, forgets their problems and enjoy life. It is a time where new and old friendships are made.
Origins of the festival can be dated back to King James I in 1603, however there were no records kept to prove how the festival began, there have been many stories made up as to the origins. One such plausible and the most popular story told is that King Puck is associated with Oliver Cromwell who was involved in pillaging at the McGillCuddy Reeks. During this session of pillaging a herd of goats were awakened and scattered away to the mountains. The he-goat (puck) was separated from the pack and ended up in the town of Killorglin and the townsfolk took this as a symbol that danger was approaching. The people took up protection of the village and to recognise thanks to the puck a festival was created in its honour.
Next time you travel through Killorglin look out for the town’s beauty pageant winner poised up on its stand watching over its loyal subjects. King Puck is really a handsome looking goat!