The burning to the ground of Ted - a giant teddy built each year with help from the local farming community in north Kerry to direct children to an enchanted fairy festival - is being investigated by gardaí.
Ted, made up of five large bales of straw and ten square bales of hay and almost three metres high, is the mascot for the annual Kilflynn Enchanted Fairy Festival.
He is erected each year at the crossroads to the village off the main Tralee to Listowel Road and several hours work and many hands go into his making.
But on Tuesday morning at around 5.30am gardaí were alerted that Ted, who had only been constructed that evening, was on fire. Plumes of smoke had been spotted for miles around on the flat north Kerry plain.
Gardaí said Investigations are continuing.
Enchanted Fairy Festival chairman Mick Brady said the committee are genuinely perplexed about the fire or if anyone could have set out to burn Ted.
“We genuinely don’t know,” Mr Brady said.
They have now replaced Ted exactly as he was – except this time he has returned as fireman Ted with a hose attached for extra security.
The Kilflynn Fairy Festival takes place in an ideal setting of the charming village with a bridge and trees and holy well renowned for cures.
The festival consists of a fairy parade, with a king and queen of the fairies and several sprites.
Although not based on Shakespeare’s Midsummer Night’s Dream, the festival does feature well known ancient and Elizabethan sprites.
The two-day festival was dreamt up by local people to spark the imagination of the young. Now in its sixth year, it is timed for the weekend when schools close and it attracts visitors from Northern Ireland, the UK and Europe as well as locally.
Around 5,000 fairy followers attended last year’s magical event.
Among the highlights of the weekend will be the magical fairy trail; knights, wizardry and drumming; may-pole dancing and dancing with the fairies; bottle and dummy drop off; a wishing tree; family picnic areas; street entertainment; bouncy castles, face painting; food and crafts fair “and lots, lots more”.
The opening parade takes place at 7.30pm on Saturday.
Meanwhile, in a statement, the garda press office said gardaí in Tralee were investigating a fire which occurred at Kilflynn, Tralee yesterday at 5.30am.