Thursday, 23 July 2009

Nanny State: Puck Fair goat needs a passport

Sorry this is late, but...
Civilised people may not be aware of Puck Fair, so let me tell them that it is a quaint old Irish festival that takes place in the village of Killorglin, in picturesque County Kerry, once a year.

The origins of the tradition are lost in time, but one version traces it back to Cromwell, when a heroic goat alerted the good folk of Killorglin of the approach of the Roundhead army, giving them time to prepare themselves for any attempted invasion.

So, in memory of the goat’s village-saving deeds, locals show their gratitude every year by capturing a goat, crowning it a king, putting it in a cage and hoisting it to the top of a pole, where it remains suspended above the street while everyone gets pissed out of their heads below. The Puck Festival goes on for three days, and includes a horse and cattle fair, and everyone has a wonderful time –except the goat, of course, which is terrified out of its wits.

Things are so bad, in fact, that any goat with even a modicum of sense will be nowhere near Kerry – or anywhere in the Republic - come the 12th of August. In fact, the 12th of August is to Southern goats what the 12th of July is to Northern Catholics, and they generally flee the country for the duration of it all. *

The upshot is that the Fair’s organisers have been searching up North in Country Antrim for a goat this year, and eventually hunted down an unwilling candidate near Fair Head - the intention being to whisk him south over the border into the Republic.

Unfortunately for the organisers, they chose to go the official, rather than the Slab Murphy route, and have landed themselves in a bureaucratic nightmare over the issuing of a “passport” (an animal health certificate) which would allow it to travel south to Killorglin.

There were fears that the documentation may not be issued in time, but according to today’s Irish Times, Puck Fair chief (as opposed to king) Declan Mangan “expressed delight that at the news that the 400 year-old festival would have a goat to crown as King Puck” after assurances were received from the Department of Agriculture in Northern Ireland. **

It’s been a tense time, but - hold the front page! I have just been informed by a very reliable source and regular contributor to the blog that the valuable certificates have been issued.

Disaster has been averted, and we can all sleep easily in our beds now. What with recent scandals about misspelt Gaeltacht road signs in Mayo, and RTE having the wrong name for 43 years in Montrose, the absence of a goat to torment at Puck Fair would have surely tipped the country right over the edge.


* This paragraph is made up.

** All the others are not.

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5 comments:

bigphathar said...

King Billy travels south of the Boyne to reign over the free-staters? Peace process political correctness gone mad I say! What next? Paisley for Pope?

Anonymous said...

great pick MR Gm a handsome billy and a winsome colleen what agreat little country regards

Anonymous said...

The flight from Northern Ireland around the glorious twelfth is hardly confined to Roman Catholics GM. Anyone with a bit of sense can join in. The Republic (Donegal in particular) Spain and Amsterdam (spot the irony) are popular destinations. Failing that one can suddenly decide to pay a visit to relations in the countryside.

Lew said...

I had to read that a couple of times.

Amazing. I'd never heard of it before and at first I thought it was a wind up.

How come in the whole of the Southern Ireland they couldn't find one "willing" goat?

The Gombeen Man said...

It's real, alright, Lew. There's even footage of the exciting event in all its glamorous glory on Youtube.