The organisers of three-day Puck Fair, which starts in Killorglin, Co Kerry, tomorrow, believe the wild abandon for which the event is renowned will again prevail.
Fair chairman Declan Mangan last night went as far to say that Puck was “recession-proof” because all the entertainment was free.
Though there are ample ways of spending money in pubs, at Bird’s funfair, and at the scores of street traders’ stalls, people can still enjoy Puck without putting their hands in their pockets — in theory at least.
At the same time, it’s a gilt-edged opportunity for businesses inKillorglin. Estimates of the value of the fair range up to €8m.
The town’s population of about 2,000 is set to grow by a multiple of at least 20 over the weekend, with 40,000 to 50,000 revellers of all ages expected to flock in.
Activities kick off tomorrow with a traditional horse fair at Evan’s Field on the outskirts of the town, with dealers from all around the country attending.
A free entertainment programme, with groups performing on a platform in the town square, starts at midday tomorrow.
The schoolgirl Queen of Puck, Claire O’Sullivan, aged 12, will ceremonially crown a wild mountain goat as King Puck, following a parade and plenty of pageantry at about 6pm.
The goat will remain in a cage high above the rooftops of Killorglin for the weekend, presiding over his loyal subjects enjoying the festive craic on the streets below.
The event is officially 399 years old, as a charter giving permission to hold a fair in Killorglin was signed in 1613. However, the origins of the fair are believed to stretch much further back, possibly to pagan times.
Celebrations are already being planned for next year and the 400th fair.