Party fit for a king as 'Enda' crowned
IT'S the one place on earth where the goat acts the king and the people act the goat.
Relentless rain led to smaller crowds on the streets of Killorglin, Co Kerry, yesterday for the annual Puck Fair. But while sunshine may have been lacking for the opening day of the three-day annual knees-up, there was no shortage of characters about, some of whom have had a lifetime association with the fair.
More than 60,000 are expected to visit Killorglin this week, attracted by the free entertainment, horse fair, street carnival, and of course, last night's highlight -- the crowning of King Puck by 13-year-old Muireann Arthurs, this year's queen.
'Enda', the new king, looked suitably anxious as he was hoisted aloft his 45ft tower overlooking the town, to a rousing rendition of 'An Poc ar Buile'.
Crowds travelled from all over the world to watch the spectacle and one American visitor had even planned her whole itinerary around it.
"We were coming for a family reunion but I arranged it to coincide with Puck Fair," said Eileen Flynn, from Pennsylvania. "I can't believe the energy and the tradition, it's incredible."
One regular first visited Killorglin when she was only a year old.
Gypsy Kathleen Lee has been reading her crystal ball and revellers' palms for over 63 years and counts crooner Daniel O'Donnell among her clients.
"My grandfather Old Gypsy Lee was doing Puck Fair long before I ever did. He was known all over Ireland and England. I'm hoping my own daughter will continue the tradition," she told the Irish Independent.
The London-based fortune teller hails from Blarney in Co Cork originally but spends much of the summer plying her trade at festivals.
"We did Mary from Dungloe in Donegal last week before coming here. I didn't make it last year and people keep on telling me they were looking for me," she said.
Another tradition at Puck Fair is Bird's Bizarre, the family-run fun fair which has been part of the festival since the 1930s. One regular who couldn't make this year's festival was Christy Kissane, who could not leave his Kingdom Bar on Kilburn High Road in London because of the rioting.
Mr Kissane, who is chairman of the Kerryman Association in London, was a former publican in Killorglin and usually makes it back for the yearly pilgrimage in August.
The fair also kept up its world media profile with representatives of American, UK, Irish and European TV crews as well as 'National Geographic' magazine.