Since the 1600s, a goat catcher goes up into the mountains to catch a wild goat to be crowned King Puck.
Probably well over 400 years old, the “Fair of the He-Goat” was first recognized by King James I in 1603.
Puck Fair kicks off when Queen Puck, a local Killorglin schoolgirl, crowns the goat King.
For three days, King Puck beholds his kingdom from a cage on a high scaffold.
In the old days, the pubs were open all night.
Now, licenses are limited to 3:00 am.
Still, the things that goat has seen…
The goat that saved a town from Cromwell
One legend goes that Cromwell’s English “Roundheads” were rampaging towards Killorglin when they spooked a herd of goats.
One of the brave billies hoofed it into the town.
When it arrived, terrified and exhausted, people in Killorglin realized that something was up.
They were able to prepare for the oncoming attack, and the day was saved.
Another theory suggests that Puck Fair is linked to a pre-Christian harvest festival.
The male goat or “Puck” was a pagan symbol of fertility, like the pagan god Pan.
Of course, in pagan times the wild goat probably would have been sacrificed.
These days, King Puck means business.
It’s about the buying and selling of horses and cattle (and sheep, donkeys, dogs, geese – anything really).
This is done the old way.
Deals are struck in a field or on the street.
A handshake seals the deal.
For over 20 years, the Puck goat catcher has been Frank Joy.
If you suspect it’s the same goat up there year after year, Frank assures The Irish Times that is not so.
“We go to different areas every year. I’d have kind of an instinct it wouldn’t be the same goat.”
On the 3rd day – minus his crown – King Puck is brought down to be led back to his mountain home.
Where he can tell his friends about his brief stint as royalty in Killorglin.
Siobhan is a freelance writer, research addict and lover of twisted history. If you like horrible but amazing history, check out her website www.interesly.com or Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/interesly. Or you can reach her through www.siobhanoshea.com.