Killorglin Puck Fair

10th August 1603
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Although official permission to hold the fair was granted by charter from King James I in 1603, the Killorglin Puck Fair is, in fact, much older than that. So old, in fact, that nobody really knows for certain when or why the tradition of venerating a goat as king came into being.

The Puck Fair is a 3-day event held every year on the 10th, 11th, and 12th of August in Killorglin, Co. Kerry. During the festival, a male goat, or puck, is taken from the mountain into the town where he is raised upon a platform and crowned as King. The coronation is performed by a young girl, usually about 12 years old. She, in turn, is named the Queen. Once the Puck has been crowned and the people have cheered, the revelry begins. This is often regarded as Ireland's oldest festival and is a deeply ingrained tradition for the people of this small town in county Kerry. 

Each of the 3 days of the Puck Fair has a set purpose. The first is known as The Gathering Day. This is the day wherein the procession and coronation of the goat takes place in the evening. He is brought through the town where the crowds will have gathered to see their king. He is then crowned by the Puck Queen and raised upon his platform high above the cheering crowd. The second is The Fair Day, where cattle, sheep, pigs, and horses are traded. This was once the biggest cattle and horse fair in Kerry. There is also gambling, music, and dancing as the revelries go on all through the night. The third and final day is known as The Scattering Day. As the name suggests, this is the day when the fair comes to an end and the people go their seperate ways for another year. 

There are 3 different theories regarding the origins of the crowning of the Puck. The first is that it was a pre-Christian pagan tradition to celebrate the harvest festival of Lúnasa, and that the Puck represents fertility. The second is that it commemorates an event in history where a Puck goat is said to have saved the town from invasion by arriving into the town in an exhausted state, warning the locals that Oliver Cromwell's forces were on their way. Thirdly, there are some who say that the Puck was introduced to the August fair by Daniel O'Connell who won a legal battle to stop the fair from being tolled by finding a loophole whereby goats could be traded without the restrictions normally put on cattle, sheep, or horses. An agreement has never been made regarding the origins of the Puck Fair, but regardless of its beginnings, the Fair is a spectacle unlike any other and a powerful tradition for the people of Killorglin. 

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