Give me a crash course in . . .


Puck Fair in Killorglin, Co Kerry

When is it?It may get your goat, but there’s no escaping Puck Fair. No matter what’s happening in the world, we can depend on the fact that, according to its website, Puck Fair is held in Killorglin, Co Kerry, “without fail on 10th, 11th and 12th August every year, with 12 hours of free family street entertainment.”

What are its origins?No hard facts available, thus step forward the storytellers and myth-makers.

Theory 1: Cromwell’s troops were on the rampage in the area, and came upon a herd of goats. The silverback equivalent of the herd, the Puck goat, fled back towards Killorglin. He arrived in a state of such chassis the locals were alarmed. Like mountains and Muhammad, the locals usually had to go to the goat. Now the goat had come to them. Cue fear and shaking. The people set about fortifying themselves against the Cromwellian invaders, who it appears did less rampaging in Killorglin as a result. The people may or may not have eaten roast goat that fateful night. It’s no more or less likely than the rest of the story.

Theory 2: Something very long and convoluted to do with Daniel O’Connell, tolls, fairs, a landlord called Blennerhasset, Dublin Castle, a viceroy and a goat. No matter how many times you read this theory, your head will remain addled. So it’s best to stick to Theory 1.

Why is it called Puck Fair?Puck is the name of the behorned Big Fella of the herd. The goat caught for the fair is named King Puck.

Who catches Puck?For the last 21 years the goat catcher has been Frank Joy. This year, the goat-catching involved 13 people over three evenings. In case any members of the public not from Killorglin may suspect it’s the same goat up there year after year, Frank assures us that is not so. “We go to different areas every year. I’d have kind of an instinct it wouldn’t be the same goat.”

What’s the back-up plan?In case King Puck goes hoof-up during the three days of the festival, Frank Joy keeps on his farm “a reserve goat. Kind of like a first sub on a football team.”

Height of the platform the goat resides on for three days?Forty-five feet.

How is Puck prepared for viewing?He is treated for worms and fluke, gets his hooves clipped and his coat groomed.

What does Puck eat?Cabbages. Leaves from ash trees. Tree branches.

What was the name of last year’s goat?Oisín.

And this year’s?Enda

Is there drinking at Puck Fair?Is Puck a goat? Notoriously, the bars were once open all night. Now the licences are for 3am.

Is it the most admirable attempt in the history of Ireland to create a festival out of nothing?Yes.