'Free of charge; free entry, free entertainment': Annual Puck Fair takes place this weekend

'Free of charge; free entry, free entertainment': Annual Puck Fair takes place this weekend
Maeve McCarthy, Queen of Puck Fair. Picture: Don MacMonagle

Killorglin’s Puck Fair, in which the goat acts as king - and the people act the goat, begins tomorrow.

The three-day fair presided over traditionally by a wild mountain male goat is older than the charter of King James which gave it legitimacy in 1603.

Essentially a harvest festival, Puck Fair once marked the beginning and the end of the year for Kerry’s farming community with horses and cattle bought and sold and farm servants hired for the coming year. It was also a time when the Traveller community from around Ireland met up, and emigrants returned home.

Nowadays, while there is no longer a hiring fair, Puck retains its traditional gathering elements for the Traveller as well as the local community.

A male goat is still crowned and hoisted high over Killorglin town for three days and three nights and the streets are filled with dancing and music carousing and stalls. A 12-year-old girl, chosen as Queen earlier in the summer, performs the coronation ceremony.

This year’s King Puck will be crowned by Queen Maeve McCarthy from Cromane Lower in Killorglin. The sixth class pupil at Realt na Mara, Cromane will be accompanied by her lady-in-waiting, Sian Corkery, and up to a dozen assistants.

The Queen is chosen largely on the strength of an essay. Maeve wrote:

I love everything about Puck, from the horse fair on the first day to the fireworks on the last. The food is always unbelievable and with all the stalls you are never bored.

A GoFund me campaign is helping the voluntary committee tackle rising insurance and other costs.

Declan Falvey, chairman of the Puck Fair committee, said: “We pride ourselves on providing the public with an event that is free of charge; free entry, free entertainment – you name it. But with running costs rising across the board, we had to come up with a plan B. Puck is an event that is 100% for the people, so we’re giving those that enjoy it most the opportunity to invest in its legacy."

In a break from convention this year, the cattle fair – typically held on day-two of Puck Fair – will now take place on Monday, August 12.

The three-day schedule includes dance workshops, fancy dress competitions, a fun fair, food stalls, street markets and live music throughout the town.

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