A Guide to Festivals in Ireland
There are also hours of free family entertainment including parades, fireworks, cultured street entertainment as well as day and night concerts, as well as a cattle fair and a horse fair. This is certainly one of the more unusual festivals in Ireland, but it's also the oldest. No one is really sure how this fair started, although there are a number of different theories. There are several versions of the origins of King Puck. One labels Puck a Paul Revere of sorts. The story involves English leader Oliver Cromwell and his "Roundheads," while pillaging the Irish countryside, frightened a herd of goats, one broke away and entered the town of Killorglin looking exhausted, which warned the townsfolk that danger was on its way.
The other story claims that the annual Killorglin fair had been a toll fair (this is back in the early 1800s), but then it was ruled illegal to levy tolls at cattle, sheep or horse fairs. - but this did not include goats, and on August 10, 1808, with the help of a barrister named Daniel O'Connell, a fair was held in Killorglin and a goat was paraded on stage to prove that it was indeed a legal goat fair. - so the town got a fair and a king.
It is also possible that this festival began in pre-Christian times, to celebrate a successful August harvest. In pagan times, the male goat, or "Puck" was celebrated as a symbol of fertility, like the pagan god Pan.
Matchmaking Festival Lisdoonvarna County Clare September-October 2009
This festival takes places over six weeks during the month of the September and the start of October, in the gorgeous County Clare town of Lisdoonvarna. Historically, this festival helped young Irish men - many of whom would have been working as farmers in isolated rural areas - meet young Irish women. The town even has an official Matchmaker: Willie Daly, who carries on an old family tradition. Today, this festival is a little less about matchmaking and more about music, dance, and good old-fashioned debauchery, Irish style.
The AIB Street Performance World Championship Dublin City June 18-21
Dublin City Center usually has some really good street performers, most famously on the main shopping street, Grafton Street, which is especially famous for its street musicians. But the street performance world championships, which take place in June in Merrion Square, are truly a spectacle to behold. Last year a duo called The English Gents astounded their audience with remarkable feats of strength and agility, using props such as cups of tea and newspapers in a most imaginative way.