Fortunes made and foretold at Puck fair day

If a well-known beer did ringside seats, they would probably be like this — right in front of the cattle ring with a freshly-poured pint in one hand and a cigarette in the other.

Revellers who turned the corner on Killorglin’s Langford St were surprised to find themselves in the middle of a cattle mart.

August 11 is ‘Fair Day’ at Puck Fair and unlike the previous day’s horse fair, the cattle have managed to hold onto their pitch on one of the Kerry town’s busiest streets.

The view from Kerry TD Martin Ferris’ constituency office was equally good.

Outside, Jim O’Connell from Killorglin was selling his cattle and deemed himself “reasonably happy” with his morning’s trading.

“I’ve been coming to the cattle fair at Puck for 40 years and I would not say it was any bigger before than it is now.

“There’s more demand for cattle now,” Mr O’Connell said.

Prices held at around €1,300 per animal, a sight more than what’s available at the factory.

With no weighing system in place, a knowing eye did the grading before palms were spat and the deal sealed.

Buyers came from as far away as Fermanagh, Antrim, Kildare, and Meath and, by lunchtime, the trucks had departed for farms around the country.

One punter commented how “prices like this will not be seen again until next year”, and urged anyone within a 100-mile radius of Killorglin with cattle to sell to come along.

He and his friend were making their annual pilgrimage from Cahersiveen with “the Odearest in the back of the van”.

“We arrived on Wednesday, went to the horse fair yesterday and then for a feed of pints,” he said.

“We’re at the cattle fair today and we’ll have more ice-cream in the evening again.”

The day began at 9am for Gypsy Kathleen Lee, who has been coming to Puck Fair to read palms and cards for more than 70 years.

“I opened the curtains this morning and there were five women waiting outside to have their readings.

“I had to turn them away last night,” said the 80-year-old grandmother and mother of nine, who counts Britain’s Princess Margaret, Daniel O’Donnell and Patrick Swayze among her former clients.

Born in Blarney, Co Cork, Kathleen and her husband spend most of their time in Essex but travel home every year for Puck Fair, the Rose of Tralee and Glenties before heading back to the UK.

Kathleen says she inherited her gift from her grandfather, Gypsy Lee, who told the fortunes of the rich and famous in London’s Portobello and was a well-known face at Puck Fair every year.

She said the gift skipped a generation and none of her nine children have it, but she sees a lot of promise in a granddaughter.

“My granddaughter coming up is fantastic but I would not encourage her to do it because she has her education. I don’t know how to read or write,” she says.

The same clients return to her, year after year, often to tell her how things worked out in their lives or to confirm that the baby she foretold had been born, and not to predict another one.

“We always have a joke as well and I love meeting the people and talking to them. Some of them just pay the €20 for a chat and the laugh and they ask me about Daniel as well,” she says.

She also has a lot of male clients and says that having your fortune told is just as appealing to men as it is to women.

The one thing she does draw the line at is doing readings for children, even though she’s often asked to do so.

“I never did and I’m not going to start now,” she says.

Although Puck has changed over the years, she says it’s still like coming home and she will continue to return for Puck as long as she can.


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