Sean O’Laoghaire, a storyteller and goatherd in Portmagee, Co. Kerry, is hosting his "Queen of the Goats" festival this Friday, August 18.
The festival happens in a field where, according to O’Laoghaire, people and goats "hang out together" and crown a queen goat.
Back in 2020 during the pandemic, O’Laoghaire had taken to broadcasting on social media about his life alongside the goats, as well as the history and folklore that "create the special magic" on the Iveragh Peninsula. (Today, he has just over six thousand followers on Facebook.)
That year, when the historic Puck Fair festival, typically hosted in nearby Killorglin, was canceled due to the pandemic, O’Laoghaire hosted his own, small goat-centric event.
"The first year that there was no Puck, I put a goat up on a few pallets, said a few words to mother nature, and made up this wonderful story about how Puck Fair could be here [in Portmagee] as well as in Killorglin," O'Laoghaire previously explained.
The following year, the event "got a little bit bigger."
"The patrons on my Patreon page picked out a few goats, nominated a few goats, and then the wider audience voted on Facebook, and Ruby Wax was selected as Queen Puck.
"We had a beautiful evening here [in Portmagee]. We had a parade with the goats, we all walked around - a few people, not too many, because I really do feel it's important for [the goats] to be comfortable as well.
"We had some poetry, some storytelling, some music, and some singing."
O’Laoghaire said that huge bouquets of wild plants were presented to the goats, "who found them to be delicious."
"People, including myself, were unsure how it was going to unfold, but it did and wonderfully so," O’Laoghaire said, reflecting on the 2021 event.
"It was really simple, naive, but yet, because of its integral roots in nature, folklore, and tradition, it was very strong at the same time."
In 2022, the Queen of the Goats festival grew even more, with people from as far away as England attending. Azzy was crowned Queen of the Goats during the gathering that was marked with singing, dancing, and poetry, and a meal of goat's cheese, salad, local honey, and chestnut flour pancakes.
Also in attendance at last year's gathering was filmmaker John Kennedy, who documented the unique happening in the short film "The Happy Herd."
View this post on Instagram
At the same time, the festival was officially renamed Queen of the Goats to avoid confusion with the popular Puck Fair. O’Laoghaire says Queen of the Goats is not meant to replicate or compete with Puck Fair, but rather just exist separately.
Queen of the goats 19/08/22Posted by Seán an Seanchaí on Friday, August 19, 2022
This year, Queen of the Goats will be hosted on Friday, August 18 at 6 pm in Portmagee and will be live streamed on Facebook.
Looking ahead to the event, O’Laoghaire said "a wonderful evening will be had by all, people and goats."
He added: "It really reminds me of the days when we brought the hay in from the fields or were cutting and binding the oats and making rooks out of the sheaves.
"That idea of community, nature, and a real harvest is so important to feel as a group and keep that feeling alive, throughout the winter, bringing us back into the spring."