Inis Mor, Aran Islands, Co. Galway

February 27 – March 1, 2009

Father Ted is the most Irish sitcom, and easily the best, of all-time. (Although it was produced by a British production company, it was set in Ireland and featured an entirely Irish cast.)

It achieved a cult following, and depicts the lives of three Irish Catholic priests who live on Craggy Island, a fictional island.

The annual Tedfest on the Aran Island of Inis Mor is a celebration of the progam, and features a everything to do with the cult sitcom Father Ted, such a “Lovely Girls” competition, a “Song for Europe”, a priests and nuns sports day

The weekend starts with a cabaret on the Friday in Craggy's own nightclub, The Crag. The next day is Sporting Saturday with various hilarious events such as priests and nuns sports day or buckaroo speed-dating, all in fancy dress of course. Don't expect anything too holy on Spiritual Sunday - it's more cups of tea followed by an end-of-festival party.

Puck Fair

Killorglin, Co. Kerry

August 10-12, 2009

The idea is strange, yet simple: every year, a group of people from Killorgin, a town in County Kerry, go to the nearby mountains, the MacGillycuddy's Reeks, to capture a wild goat. The captured goat is then crowned “Kind Puck” in the town by the Queen of the Fair, a local schoolgirl. Then the party begins – for three days, pubs are permitted to say open till 3 am, and it is estimated that around 100,000 people visit the town over the three days. The goat is kept in a cage in the town, and is later released back into the wild.

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, Co. Clare

August 28-October 4, 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 (made famous by the song from Christy Moore).

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.