Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
A goat atop the Puck Fair stand. August 2004
Killorglin (Cill Orglan in Irish) is a town on the Ring of Kerry, in County Kerry, Ireland. It is located on the river Laune , which boasts a rowing club and a new boathouse. The population of Killorglin is 1359 (CSO 2002) although this expands considerably during Puck Fair due to transient visitors and returning emigrants.
Killorglin is a major activity centre for Kerry and has a number of tourist hostels on Dromin Hill.
Every year on the 10,11 and 12th of August, Killorglin holds Puck Fair one of the oldest fairs in Europe.
Every year a group of people go up into the mountains and catch a wild goat. This goat is brought back to the town and a young person crowns the goat. The goat is then put into a small cage on a high stand in the middle of the town. From this moment on the fair has started there is singing and dancing. The local farmers bring cattle and sheep and barter. There is a funfair in the main square. When the fair ends they finish with fireworks.
Puck Fair History
Although there is no written evidence of when Puck Fair started there are several legends about the fair. One legend holds that the "Roundheads" from the Kilgobnet area were planning to attack the Killorglin folk. The Roundheads tried to catch some goats up in the hills but the goats were too fast and escaped. One male goat got separated from the herd and fled down to Killorglin where he alerted the villagers to the raid. The villagers, having a chance to prepare their defences, won the battle. King Puck is always be celebrated on that anniversary.
It is thought that the fair started in pre-Christian times as a celebration for a good harvest. The goat may also represent the pagan god, Pan.
King James I granted legal status to the fair in 1603. There is another piece of written evidence from the 17th century which states that Jenkins Conway, the local landlord, had the right to collect a sum for every animal brought to the fair. This indicates that the fair was well under way by this time.
The acclaimed book Things My Mother Never Told Me by Blake Morrison (Vintage 2003 ISBN 0099440725) tells the story of the author's mother who was from Langford Street in Killorglin. She had left Ireland for England and put her past behind her. It was only after she died that her son went through a collection of old letters from the 1940s and pieced together her life from World War II courtship to Yorkshire country doctor.
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