Goat to spend less time on high stand at Puck Fair

Goat to spend less time on high stand at Puck Fair
Ireland's oldest traditional Puck fair opens in Killorglin, County Kerry, with the horse fair and parade through the town culminating in the crowning of King Puck, a wild mountain goat.

The hours spent by the wild mountain goat on a high stand overlooking Killorglin at the annual Puck Fair are to be severely cut this August.

Concerns about the goat’s welfare on a metal cage during a heatwave dominated the headlines last August and the goat had to be removed on a number of occasions amid fears he would overheat.

However, the changes to the tradition are coming under fire locally and "feelings are running very high," according to a local representative who warns that a way of life is under threat from animal rights and other pressure.

For hundreds of years, the wild mountain puck or he-goat has spent three days and three nights on a 50ft stand in Killorglin.


But this year King Puck’s enthronement will involve a token visit to his stand, after his coronation on August 10th.

He will be raised again on Scattering or closing day August 12th.

The fair committee said Puck was evolving and taking account of changing concerns.

“We are a festival steeped in longstanding traditions but equally, we acknowledge that traditions can and should evolve where there is good reason to do so," the chairman of the Puck Fair Festival committee said.


"While King Puck will still be a major part of the festival, this year his role has evolved. The goat’s welfare has always been and remains of paramount importance to the committee and all of those that love Puck Fair,” he said.

Locals are unhappy with planned changes to Puck Fair. Photo: PA Images

In line with previous years, the goat will continue to be overseen and checked by a vet throughout the three days.

However, the radical change to the 400-year-old festival is causing concern locally and is being attributed to "unbelievable pressure" from animal rights and the media.

Such pressure is a threat to ancient traditions, according to local Fianna Fáil Councillor Michael Cahill.


The Puck Fair Committee have been put in an impossible position, "between the media pressure from so-called ‘Animal Rights’ protesters and the commercial pressure from corporate sponsors, who fear controversy", Mr Cahill said.

Feelings were ‘running very high’ around the Killorglin/Mid and South Kerry region because of this decision, he said.

"The customs and traditions of our country are an enormous responsibility on all of us and we must strive to continue them and not turn into a society with no identity," the councillor said.

The Puck Fair Committee had come under unbelievable pressure from people complaining about how the Puck goat is treated and from sponsors, who fear controversy, Mr Cahill said.

"The goat was always well treated," he said.

"Feelings are running very high around the Killorglin/Mid and South Kerry region because of this decision, as Puck has been part of all our lives growing up. We could not envisage life without King Puck and of course, it is upsetting to see it threatened in any way.

"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? Not everything is black and white, as they say, and compromises may need to be accepted.

"We, the supporters of Puck Fair, will work tirelessly to ensure that Puck Fair is not destroyed for the generations to come," Mr Cahill also said in a statement.

By Anne Lucey

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