No kidding around: Puck Fair goat to get fan during festival heat

The Sam Maguire Cup will also make an appearance at this year’s opening parade on Wednesday
No kidding around: Puck Fair goat to get fan during festival heat

The goat will be coronated as 'King Puck' at the annual Puck Fair in Killorglin, County Kerry, on Wednesday. Picture: Don MacMonagle

The wild goat at this year's Puck Fair in Killorglin may be given a fan to cool him down, the fair’s spokesman has said.

If necessary, the animal will be taken down a level also, if the heat gets too much, Declan Falvey confirmed. It comes as animal rights activists and others expressed concern for the goat whose coronation takes place on Wednesday in the midst of a heatwave.

Traditionally at the Puck Fair, the wild goat spends the bulk of the festival on a 50ft stand overlooking the town. The festival takes place each year on August 10, 11 and 12.

The puck is looked after by a team of goat catchers, while a local vet monitors the goat’s health and he is given a full health check before his coronation and being hoisted on the stand. As well as being fed, the goat is inoculated.

“The water is changed on a regular basis and a local farmer sources the best of heather,” Mr Falvey told Liveline. “We will make sure we will look after the goat.” However, callers to the programme said goats were not able to cope with heat and they panted a lot and would be unable to drink.

Mr Falvey insisted “this is a wild mountain goat, used to living on heights”.

“We will do everything in our power and if it means keeping him down we will keep him down,” he said.

The puck is looked after by a team of goat catchers, while a local vet monitors the goat’s health and he is given a full health check before his coronation and being hoisted on the stand. Photo: Don MacMonagle
The puck is looked after by a team of goat catchers, while a local vet monitors the goat’s health and he is given a full health check before his coronation and being hoisted on the stand. Photo: Don MacMonagle

The goat was a hardy animal and a balmy breeze on high would keep him cool, he added. In recent years, the cage had been made bigger and Mr Falvey said they will "uphold the tradition as best we can".

Concerns were first raised about the welfare of the puck goat in 2015 when an animal rights organisation said the goat’s capture and confinement was wrong under the provisions of the 2013 Animal Health and Welfare Act.

Aran, the Animal Rights Action Network, said their concerns spanned the range of the festival — the catching of a wild goat, parading it through the town and exposing it to noise and drunken revelry.

Meanwhile, the Sam Maguire Cup will make an appearance at this year’s opening parade on Wednesday. It is the first time that the cup will appear in the coronation parade.

The ancient event — which is at least 400 years old — returns to the Laune river at the foothills of the MacGillycuddy’s Reeks after what is effectively a three-year gap.

For the first time, the All-Ireland football final (which Kerry recently won for the 38th time) was held in July — normally a month when the cup is being handed back to be prepared for September. Visitors are already gathering in advance of the crowning of King Puck on Wednesday.

The goat, a fine well-fed specimen, was captured in the MacGillycuddy’s Reeks, and is multi-coloured. Veterinary inspections have taken place already and the goat's health will continue to be monitored.

This year’s parade is about family fun, with a full programme of events from early morning on Wednesday including the traditional horse fair and traditional music and dancing.

The coronation parade around the town will be led by Queen of Puck Alesha Williams, 12, who will accompany the goat at the head of the parade.

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