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19th Jul 2023

The Puck Fair goat will spend less time in elevated cage at this year’s festivities

Katy Thornton

The placement of the King Puck goat has caused controversy in recent years.

Once again, the King Puck goat is at the centre of controversy in Kerry this week as it was announced that the animal will spend less time atop his elevated cage at this year’s fair.

Taking place in Killorglin every year, Puck Fair is a three-day festival which starts when a goat-catcher goes up into the mountains to catch a wild goat, and brings him back to the town where he is crowned King Puck. He is then sat atop an elevated stand for 3 days, where he is then returned to the wild.

Controversy has surrounded the festival in recent years, with the goat being taken down from his cage multiple times throughout 2022’s fair due to concerns around the animal’s welfare in the heatwave at the time.

“The Puck Fair Committee have come under unbelievable pressure from people complaining about how the Puck goat is treated, and from sponsors, who fear controversy,” said Kerry County Councillor Michael Cahill.

“The committee seem to have had little choice but to decide to keep the Puck off the stand for most of the duration due to different types of threats to the festival.”

“Am I and all my neighbours old fashioned, or are we being held to ransom by ‘snowflakes’, who campaign for animals while wearing cow-skin shoes?”

On the topic of the goat’s safety, the official website says: “The welfare of the goat is of utmost importance to all involved in organising Puck Fair. We have strict protocols in place to ensure this and they are overseen and checked by an independent veterinary surgeon.”

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Concerns for the festival’s old tradition

While there is no solid date to mark the origins of the festival, the Puck Fair is believed to be at least 400 years old.

There are many theories around the original meaning of the festival, with one linking it to pre-Christian celebrations of a fruitful harvest and that the male goat or “Puck” was a pagan symbol of fertility, like the pagan god Pan.

Locals have expressed concern about the recent complaints of interfering with the tradition of the age-old festival.

“Puck Fair is the oldest festival in lreland, running well over 400 years and has contributed enormously to the local economy of the town, and village surrounding areas, and this wonderful, hardworking and caring organising committee deserves all our support in ensuring Puck Fair returns to its former glory.”

This article originally appeared on JOE 

Header images via Getty

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