On a recent visit to County Kerry in the South West of Ireland, we came across the small town of Killorglin
, the local residents were all gearing up for the annual summer 'Puck Fair' festival. The Festival lasts three days and is held without fail on 10th to 13th of August with the first day taken over by one of Ireland's longest running horse fairs. The Fair gets his name from the 'King Puck' an heroic goat that warned the town of Oliver Cromwell's marauding soldiers heading for their town. The he-goat or "puck" broke away from his herd and alerted the inhabitants of the approaching 'Roundheads', and they immediately set about protecting themselves and their stock.
I don't think the fair has change very much over the last fifty years or so. The same field, the same old families, the same breed of strong Irish hunters and working horses, right down to the weather, which was chucking it down! The main gripe from the traders this year was the lack of available funds for the horses. Last year horses were trading at €6,000 & €7,000, this year you'd be lucky to get €3,000 for your horse.
But not even the lack of money or the persistent rain could dampen the sprits and resolve of the horse traders, the farmers or anyone involved in the fair. I loved it! From the cheeky little persistent 8 year old Eamon who followed my around all day trying to sell me his pony, 'It's only €5,000 mate', to the endless amount of horse poo stuck to my boots. What I really enjoyed though was the empathy, the pride and shared joy of these people getting together again, parading their merchandise. It made for a wonderful day watching an annual event that as lasted over a hundred years.