Each year in Killorglin, Ireland, three days in August stand out above the rest. August 10, 11, and 12 play host to the country’s oldest street celebration, known as Puck Fair. Touted by their website as “one of Ireland’s most unusual street festivals,” the event features “12 hours daily of free family street entertainment.” The festival is a must-attend for anyone who wants to be immersed in Irish culture. Read on to learn more about its history and what you can expect to find at the fair.
When Did Puck Fair Start?
No one is exactly sure how the fair came to be. There are references that date back as far as 1603 referring to an event called the August Fair held in Killorglin, so it can be assumed that it was going for years before this time. Numerous attempts have unsuccessfully been made to date the fair.
How Did Puck Fair Get Its Name?
The aforementioned references note the “August Fair,” which is most likely after the month in which it takes place. However, several stories circulate on how it eventually became known as Puck Fair. All of them reference a wild male goat, known as a puck. The most widely accepted of the tales names a goat as the whistleblower on a group of Englishmen led by Oliver Cromwell who were coming to seige the area. As the tale goes, Cromwell’s men disturbed a herd of goats and one brave puck ran off from the group to warn the residents of Killorglin.
Are Goats a Still Part of the Celebration?
Yes, a wild goat is brought to the center stage of the festival and crowned king of the three-day event. He gets to take in the scenes of the fair from his perch on a protected scaffold and participate in two parades. There is also a bronze billy goat statue known as “King Puck” in Killorglin that honors the festival’s roots 365 days a year.
What Can You Do at Puck Fair Today?
The fair is a true celebration of street arts. You’ll find everything from bands and DJs to entertainers on stilts and visits from kid’s characters such as Mickey Mouse. Coronation and dethronement parades for the puck mark the beginning and end of the celebration, and workshops for specific crafts and artisan skills are held throughout the fair. There’s a continuous 12 hours of entertainment planned with one act following another, plus tons of nearby bars, bakeries, and restaurants to duck into for a break. In addition, there are also horse and cattle fairs where livestock and equipment are sold.
Find more information at puckfair.ie.