Judge refuses to curtail 3am pub closing times at Puck Fair

 

A DISTRICT Court judge yesterday rejected a Garda request to curtail late-night pub opening hours during the traditional three-day Puck Fair in Killorglin, Co Kerry, next month. Judge James O’Connor said as long as he sat as a judge in Killorglin District Court, the pubs would stay open until 3am for the fair.

The 3am closing time of more than 20 pubs in Killorglin during the nights of August 10th, 11th and 12th, when a goat reigns as king over the town, is believed to be unique to Puck Fair.

Supt Michael O’Donovan yesterday argued these opening hours exceeded those of Puck’s sister fairs by an hour.

The oldest fair in Ireland, in Ballinasloe, saw pubs close at 2am, and he would like to see pub opening hours in Killorglin brought back to 2am.

“There is some crime, certainly, judge,” Supt O’Donovan said when Judge O’Connor remarked that “nothing sinister” took place in Puck during the late hours.

“Puck Fair stays at 3am and will stay until 3am as long as I am sitting here,” the judge said. “We went through this last year,” he said, referring to a lengthy airing of the matter at Cahersiveen District Court.

The 3am opening in Killorglin has been in place for the past 32 years. Previously pubs there remained open until 4 am.

Last year’s airing of the matter heard how it took a “considerable” Garda presence to prevent drink-related, late-night public-order incidents.

Vintners argued the fair has a unique homecoming atmosphere, that music sessions took place in most late-night pubs and the fair went back to 1613.

They said extra policing was required, not because of an alcohol problem, but because of the sheer numbers of people – up to 60,000 over three days – visiting the town.