Killorglin’s Puck Fair, which runs annually from August 10-12, is undeniably one of the quirkiest festivals in the world, and it is Ireland’s original and oldest ‘Gathering Festival.’
The main celebration surrounds the crowning of a wild mountain goat as a King in honor of a tradition and heritage that is purported to be ancient but can only officially be traced back as far back as 1603 when King James I issued a charter granting legal status to the existing fair in Killorglin, County Kerry.
The three days of festivities begin on what is known as ‘Gathering Day’, when the main coronation ceremony takes place. The "Queen of Puck", who is always a young schoolgirl from one of the local primary schools, crowns the goat "King Puck".
The Queen and King Puck will then parade through the town, granting residents and visitors alike the ‘Freedom of the Town’ for the duration of the festival and this commences three days of entertainment, music, pageantry and traditions.
Another highlight of ‘Gathering Day’ is the Horse Fair, which is the oldest and longest continually running horse fair in the country. Buying and selling horses, ponies, donkeys & equipment starts very early in the morning, and continues throughout the opening day of Puck Fair.
The second day, ‘Fair Day’, sees the street markets and craft fairs go into full swing. You’ll find everything you could possibly hope for among the tented stands, from horse tack to fashion, local crafts, and tasty produce. The Closing Parade is the main highlight of the final day, known as ‘The Scattering’, which leads the goat back to his mountain home.
The celebrations will close with a breathtaking fireworks display, which gets bigger and better every year. There are lots more to see and do over the few days with 36 hours of free entertainment from traditional music and dance sessions, to live open-air music, story-telling, workshops, street theatre, busking, face painting, puppet theatre, a pet show, bonny baby contest, and fun fair. And the pubs stay open until 3am!
* Originally published in 2016, updated in Aug 2023.