Puck ready to reign over fair

 

This year's King Puck is blond, naturally regal and full of spirit. He was caught high over Rossbeigh beach in Dingle Bay after an epic three-hour chase in atrocious conditions on Saturday evening.

He is to be known as "Jimmy" and he will reign high over the town of Killorglin for three days and three nights. Afterwards he will be released back to the wild.

A number of attempts have been made this year to rein in the ancient fair whose charter goes back to King James I.

Recently Judge James O'Connor at the local District Court rejected an attempt by gardaí to row back on Puck's ancient tradition of long pub opening hours.

The fair committee argued the festival was a unique event and a homecoming festival with far more than drinking. The judge agreed.

He said the annual fair was such an integral part of life that the many who left the area counted their emigrant years in numbers of pucks.

Rejecting the Garda objection to a 3am closing time at last month's sitting of Cahersiveen District Court, Judge O'Connor said the fair was a major event with impromptu singing and "belting out" of songs like Barr na Sráide and Boolevogue.

He himself had seen "no thuggery" in the early hours.

There have also been moves to force the goat to wear an ear tag. The Department of Agriculture this year approached fair organisers saying the goat must be given a flock number and tagged to comply with EU regulations.

However, mayor of Kerry Michael Healy-Rae intervened last week, saying it made no sense to tag a goat that was going to be released into the wild into an untagged flock. It is understood the request has been withdrawn.

Chief goatcatcher Frank Joy said he would have strongly opposed attempts to tag the wild goat. Local man John Mulvihill, who entertained the "goatherds" after the chase at the Red Fox Inn, remarked that "the only thing the king will wear is a crown, not an earring".

This year's team of catchers included women for the first time.

Michelle Heffernan, Suzanne Connolly and Ursula Flynn took part in the epic chase on Faha mountain alongside Frank Joy, his son Francis, Mike Hoare, Damien Keohane, Moss Pierce and Timothy Hoare, who caught King Jimmy. The operation was co-ordinated from the beach by Maura Joy.

About 60,000 people are expected in Killorglin for the fair which runs from August 10th to August 12th and generates more than €6 million. Street entertainment and a fireworks display are the highlights.

An "Elvis Spectacular" on August 10th will mark the 30th anniversary of the death of the king of rock 'n' roll. On stage will be Sweet Sensations and the TCB Band performing the hits from all stages of Elvis's career.

The following night, 14-piece orchestra the Glenn Miller Legacy Band will play a selection of melodies from the big band era.

On Scattering Day, the main act will be the internationally acclaimed traditional Irish music group, Lúnasa, followed by a midnight fireworks display to close the fair.