Puck Fair :: Killorglin, Ireland

Upon the rich, rolling green landscape of Killorglin, Ireland there is a gathering. Dating back to at least the early 17th century (and quite possibly to pre-Christian celebrations) the Puck Fair is the oldest traditional fair in Ireland and among the oldest festivals in the world. Most notable for the yearly crowning of King Puck (a captured wild goat) this three day August party is packed with every form of merriment you could imagine. There are many tales regarding the Puck Fair’s origin. The first written mention of its existence was a 1603 charter permitting it to run signed by King James I. Some associate its beginnings with early pagan celebrations possibly as a fertility rite or a ceremony for a productive harvest. Another story says a rogue goat alerted Oliver Cromwell to an impending invasion, saving the town. A third account says it’s related to an attempt by local land barons to raise additional taxes after a ban on billing for livestock was passed by the king. Regardless of its origins, modern day revelers definitely know how to celebrate it.

There is no doubt that the annual crowning of a goat king for the Puck Fair is strange at best. However this humorous tradition is just the beginning of three days of games, concerts, entertainment, fireworks, and more. For sure you will see plenty of that old Irish “meal in a cup”, Guinness. Expect pubs to stay open until around 3:00 am every night and lots and lots of plastic cups teetering around the streets. From August 10th to August 12th there are a wide variety of activities to keep young and old entertained. Aside from dancing to traditional Irish music, some of the regular stuff to see and do include the horse fair, The Lions of Africa, puppet shows, stage performances, wonderful open air concerts and of course partiers can fill their gullets with plenty of food.

Killorglin comes alive each year as revelers from around the world settle in their small seaside town for a raucous yet aboundingly welcoming good time. Booking a room in advance is strongly recommended (unless you’re one of the lucky few to have a generous friend in this town of about 1,500 locals). Once settled in, maybe join one of the parades marching down the street. Or hop into one of their fabulous restaurants (or one of the many food stalls) for a taste of authentic Ireland. This carnival of fun brings you street vendors, dancers, stilt walkers, and oodles of stories to tell (unfortunately what happens in Killorglin doesn’t necessarily stay there). This historic festival is oddly family friendly yet simultaneously the perfect spot for you and your best mates to get to know each other all over again. Puck Fair is the party everyone always wanted, and it’s been hiding in the Emerald Isles.

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