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loveofireland

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Sceala Irish Craic Forum Discussion:     puck fair

have any of you been to killorglin and witnessed the puck fair.
i remember news of it back home. but never did get to kerry, to see it.
news from this weekend
goat crowned king of ireland at ancient fair
jimmy, a feisty white mountain goat, was crowned king of ireland on friday at one of the country's oldest fairs.
dating back centuries, the puck fair is an annual festival of drinking, music and dancing celebrated in the town of killorglin in southern ireland. each year a male goat is caught in the surrounding mountains, paraded through the town to a beat of drums and pipes, and then placed in a 40-feet stand where he reigns as king for three days.
the origins of the fair are not totally known, but it always falls on august 10-12. one theory suggests mountain goats alerted residents of the town to an impending attack by english leader oliver cromwell's forces in the 17th century.
another says it may have pre-christian links due to the goat being a pagan fertility symbol like the god pan.
"its origins go way back to the mists of time" the fair's financial controller declan falvey said. "there is a mingling of fact and fantasy." around 100,000 to 150,000 visitors are expected to attend this year. falvey said precautions had been taken at the event, which also features separate horse and cattle fairs, due to a foot and mouth outbreak in england with disinfectant used, and mats placed wherever there were animals.
jimmy himself will receive regal treatment, being fed regularly and checked by his own personal vet. "at the end of 3 days, when he is dethroned, he is brought back up to the mountains and released to join his fellow nanny goats to resume his pastoral duties," said falvey.


i had such a giggle reading some more puck news. this will make you all giggle some more.

given the feral nature of local irish politics, it is questionable whether anybody will notice when a goat takes over the reins of power in killorglin, county kerry, as puck fair begins friday. the wild mountain goat, who has had greatness thrust upon him, was cornered after a three-hour chase by goat catchers frank and francis joy 10 days ago in the caha mountains in ireland's south-west. jimmy, as the blond goat is to be known for the duration of his reign at ireland's oldest fair, will remain unadorned apart from his crown despite controversial moves to have him tagged.
when the department of agriculture approached fair organizers saying the goat must be given a flock number and tagged to comply with eu regulations, killorglin publican and puck fair committee member john mulvihill was aghast.
"it would be a great dishonour to a wild goat to tag him, those old yellow ear tags would be getting caught in bushes. these poor goats roam the mountains, they don't need tags."
mulvihill's pub, the red fox, has played host to not-so-lonely goatherds for 25 years and he has been attending the fair all his life.
"i have been going to the fair since i was five years of age. it's one of the best fairs in ireland. pubs close at 3am, but we'd generally be drinking through the night," he confides.
"we used to bring the goat into the pub after he was caught and there'd be a bit of singing and merrymaking." the goat no longer takes part in the post-bagging festivities, mulvihill explains, as he has to be examined by a vet to comply with regulations.
however, to mulvihill's relief, the department of agriculture appear to have given up on their quest to tag the goat after the mayor of kerry, michael healy-rae, pointed out the futility of the scheme, considering that jimmy would be released into the wild again after discharging his regal duties.
"i didn't hear anything about it since," mulvihill says. "but the vets have checked him out. he's in great condition. he's got a good heart."
his temperament however is not as sweet as it might be, as frank joy attests.
"he'd bite you. he'd do anything with you," says the chief goatcatcher. "he's a young goat and he's vicious," he says. "last year's goat was a bit older and he wasn't as cross."
mulvihill also recalls 2006's goat with fondness.
"he was white with a black head on him, so he suited the guinness very well," he says.
jimmy, "though not the best of goats, is a good goat," with a "nice antler spread," says joy, who has been a goat catcher for 17 years.
"the chairman of the committee back then asked me would i be interested in locating a puck and i said i would. i didn't know what was involved at the time. it's getting harder and harder to find a goat these days and you have to go far into the mountains to find them."
frank joy and son francis do everything in their power to ensure the comfort of the goat during his stay in killorglin.
"he's settling in well," he says. "we feed him lots of greenery; leaves, cabbage and the like. he likes mountain ash trees and heather too."
the goat will be well-fed and watered throughout the three-day festival, joy emphasizes. but any attempt to release from his platform 40 feet above the crowds will be repelled.
"people have climbed up over the years, but the slatted wooden unit we have made for him will be well secured. nobody has ever managed to release the puck. so it'd be a waste of effort and a day in court after," he warns.
king jimmy will receive a grand ceremonial crowning on the first day of the fair, gathering day, complete with elevated throne and his own queen, who welcomes the crowds on his behalf.
he presides in state over the next day, fair day, and then is ceremonially de-throned on the third day, scattering day.
at least 10,000 visitors are expected at puck fair. as well as a cattle and horse fair, parades, dressing-up, and musical entertainment of all kinds, there will be a funfair and an irish singing competition, set dancing and all manner of jigs.
many stories surround the origins of puck fair. it has been suggested that it is linked to pre-christian celebrations of a fruitful harvest and that the male goat, the puck, was a pagan symbol of fertility, like the pagan god pan.
in joy's view, it is a celebration of the nature of the animal itself. "it was a pagan festival with pucks and she-goats. people put up the puck and danced around him. it's a great animal and he never gets a disease. he will eat anything, even ragwort. he's a hardy animal," he says.

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