Welfare of Puck Fair goat to be reviewed in light of complaints

Department of Agriculture says it received 175 calls over animal featured in annual Co Kerry fair

The Department of Agriculture is reviewing the welfare of the Puck Fair goat after receiving 175 animal welfare complaints.

The annual Killorglin, Co Kerry festival, which sees a wild male mountain goat hoisted in a structure over the town, was held last week as temperatures soared.

Crowned “King Puck”, the animal was twice removed from his cage overlooking Killorglin due to concerns over the heat.

A festival spokeswoman said he received hourly veterinary checks and was removed from his suspended cage to rest in the shade.


The Department of Agriculture said its Animal Welfare Hotline had received 175 calls concerning the animal’s welfare by Monday of this week.

A spokesman said the department will take these contacts into consideration and will be reviewing the matter in advance of next year’s fair.

The tradition of capturing a wild goat and displaying it in the town centre on August 10th dates back at least 400 years, with the first written record of the fair going back to 1613.

Usually, the goat crowned King Puck spends most of three days and nights on his perch overlooking the town while the festival takes place from August 10th to 12th.

The Animal Rights Action Network has long been a vocal critic of the Killorglin town tradition. Its founder, John Carmody, called the practice a “shameful and ridiculous spectacle of a time gone by”. He suggested a mechanical goat could be used instead of a live animal.

Local Independent TD Danny Healy-Rae last week defended the tradition, saying the goat has always been well looked after. He criticised people ringing into RTÉ Radio’s Liveline with concerns for the animal as being “against everything”.

Farmers knew instinctively how to look after animals and often did so to the clear neglect of themselves, the politician said.

Ellen O'Riordan

Ellen O'Riordan

Ellen O'Riordan is an Irish Times reporter