Ed Thompson London Documentary Photographer | Lecturer | Artist

Puck

2012

Puck
Text by Ed Thompson

Every year, for as long as anyone can remember, a man has left the village of Killorglin and headed up into the hills to capture a wild goat. Once the Chief Goat Catcher has caught a billy goat he returns to the village of Killorglin where a crown is placed upon the goats head and it is named King Puck. Originally the youngest virgin in the village was chosen to be his bride, but in recent years she is chosen via an essay writing competition, she marries the King and becomes the Puck Queen. The Puck King is then taken to the village square and hoisted up a three story tower in a cage where he presides for three days and nights, during this time the village celebrate, drink and make merry – it is said to be the only time of year where 'the goat acts the King and the people act the goat.'

A number of events take place during the fair including street theatre, live music, a Bonnie Baby Competition and a Cattle & Horse Fair. After three days of festivities the Puck King is lowered from the tower and released back into the hills. There are many legends which suggest an origin for the Puck Fair, many of which are wildly inventive, but there is no written record stating when the Fair started. It can however be traced back to a charter from 1603 by King James I granting legal status to the existing fair in Killorglin. It has been suggested that it is linked to pre-Christian celebrations of a fruitful harvest and that the male goat or "Puck" was a pagan symbol of fertility, like the pagan god Pan.

Puck is Irelands oldest Fair.