Killorglin gets ready for Puck Fair

Preparations were under way tonight for one of Ireland’s oldest fairs – which will once again see “Elvis” crowned king.

Preparations were under way tonight for one of Ireland’s oldest fairs – which will once again see “Elvis” crowned king.

More than 100,000 people are expected to flock to the Co Kerry town of Killorglin over the next three-days to see the crowning of the seven-year-old wild goat, nicknamed Elvis.

The white goat, which was captured on nearby mountains, will be named king of the Puck Fair tomorrow.

The crowds will gather in the small town to see the annual hoisting of the wild male goat or “puck” on to a 40-foot high platform.

“It is a big boost to the area. It will be choc-a-bloc with people it is obviously the busiest week of the year,” Declan Mangan, chairman of the Puck Fair organising committee, said.

“It has become a tourist event now where as it used to be a big homecoming event 30 or 40 years ago.

“It is an unusual event by curiosity it is very unique and it must be the place to be, I’d imagine Mardi Gras must be like it. I suppose it must be worth several million euro to the area.”

A team of goat catchers search nearby Glenbeigh, Rossbeigh and the Seefin mountains each year to catch a good-looking mature animal.

This year the chief goat catcher, Frank Joy, accompanied by a seven-man team, reeled in Elvis, a sprightly white goat, with a spot of black on his coat.

At the age of seven, this year’s King of Puck Fair, is slightly younger than usual.

Mr Joy, who has been catching the wild goats by hand for almost two decades, brought the goat down the rough mountainside terrain to his farm last week.

The goat will be fed a careful diet of herbs and mountain grasses and then released back to his herd at the weekend.

Mr Mangan said: “We are currently gearing the goat up for stardom.”

The queen of the fair, Clodagh O’Shea from Annadale Road in Killorglin, will crown the goat king before he is hoisted up on the platform tomorrow.

The goat will take to his 40-foot high throne overlooking the fair, where he will be fed and watered, for the next three-days.

“Wild goats get domesticated very quickly and he will be sitting down chewing and taking it all in calmly,” Mr Mangan said.

The festival’s roots can be traced back to a charter from 1603 by King James I which granted legal status to the existing fair in Killorglin.

There are also suggestions that the festival is linked to pagan celebrations of a fruitful harvest when the male goat was a symbol of fertility.

“It is believed it has its origins in Celtic times. It is the original Kerryman’s tourist gimmick,” Mr Mangan said.

The main events of the festival include the horse fair which was moved from the town’s streets to a nearby field two-years ago for safety reasons.

There will also be street theatre, singing performances, children’s competitions and a cattle fair.

Juliet Turner will be performing tomorrow night, while Jerry Fish and the Mudbug Club will be taking to the street stage on Wednesday night, and then at midnight on Thursday there will be a fireworks display for the finale.

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