Puck crisis eases as 'Billy' the goat's papers are sorted


HOPES WERE high last night that a Northern Irish goat chosen to be this year’s King Puck will make it to Killorglin in time after the North’s Minister for Agriculture, Michelle Gildernew predicted that the matter would be resolved shortly.

Ms Gildernew said that she was confident that concerns about the process of animal health certificates which would allow the animal travel south from Ballycastle in Co Antrim would be resolved in time to allow it travel to Killorglin for the festival which starts on August 10th.

“I am glad to say that the King of the Fair should be arriving on time for the festival,” said Ms Gildernew who said that she had been contacted about the matter by the Mayor of Moyle District Council, Cllr Cara McShane. “Given the distance the goat has to travel and considering its welfare it is proper to ensure that the appropriate steps are taken and it’s my understanding that Mayor McShane will personally deliver directly the relevant forms to the parties concerned and all will be sorted.

“So in all there’s no acting the goat on this issue,” quipped Ms Gildernew after the tight controls on the animal’s travel arrangements had led to fears in Killorglin that they might not be able to get a replacement goat in time.

The departments of Agriculture in Northern Ireland and the Republic were upbeat about the goat’s chances of getting to Killorglin in time to be crowned King Puck.

In Killorglin, Puck Fair chairman Declan Mangan expressed delight at the news that the 400-year-old festival would have a goat to crown as King Puck.

“I haven’t heard anything official from anybody yet but we’ve had phone calls from friends of friends and it’s looking good which is great news because we would have been hardpressed to get a replacement if this goat wasn’t allowed travel down,” he said.

The goat, which was caught near Fair Head in Co Antrim by Séamus Blaney and 12 men, may be the offspring of a goat trapped in the McGillycuddy Reeks for the Oul Lamas Fair in 1979.

“It was one of about 15 wild goats moving about. They were here, there and everywhere, never staying in the one place. It meant us following them every day, but we used grass and sweeteners to feed them and eventually lull them into a false sense of safety. It was just a question of picking our moment and grabbing it. It happened a fortnight ago around the time of the run-up to the Twelfth, and we felt it appropriate we call it Billy,” said Mr Blaney, a member of Moyle District Council.

“I expect the agriculture people to give the all-clear either tomorrow, or Friday and it will travel south in a goat cart. We’re not saying who the driver is, or the route he will take, because I’ve no doubt there will be those looking to release it – just for the craic.”