What is it about Puck?

Festival Chairman Declan Mangan, John Bowe of sponsors Diageo and publican Declan Falvey
Festival Chairman Declan Mangan, John Bowe of sponsors Diageo and publican Declan Falvey

Tadhg Evans

We've reached that point in the year when a raft of villages and towns throughout the county hold festivals of varying sizes, each undoubtedly special to their own unique set of locals.

But in terms of reputation, tradition, colour and attendance, Puck Fair is among the best known such occasions. This year's theme is #BackForPuck, which doesn't strike as the most difficult of sells given that this is a festival that awakens excitement on an annual basis in thousands from Killorglin, Kerry, Ireland, and further afield.

This year's highlights include headline performances by Brass & Co (August 10), The Elvis Spectacular Show (August 11) and The Ultimate Garth Brooks Experience (August 12), and it's that kind of schedule that eliminates any trace of tiredness from Declan Mangan's voice, even after 30 years at wheel as the festival's chairperson.

"There's a reason I keep returning to this post year in, year out, for over three decades", he says. "It's a hugely important part of Killorglin's past and present and it is a great deal of fun. I get such a thrill out of seeing visitors flock to the town each August to witness the crowning of King Puck and to see what our beautiful town has to offer.

"It brings locals and tourists together and highlights Killorglin as an important focal point within the Irish tourism industry."

Described by organisers as a festival almost as synonymous with Ireland and its culture as St Patrick's Day, the three-day jamboree is a unique entity. It can lay claim to 400 years of shimmering history, and while the annual crowning of King Puck, a wild mountain goat, remains the centrepiece, the events that unfold within the surrounds of the King's platform are as plentiful as they are varied.

It all starts tomorrow morning at the unfamiliar hour of 6am with the famous horse fair, and thereafter one can expect the Coronation Parade and Ceremony from 5.30pm ahead a 10pm set by musical act Brass and Co.

From there on it's a mix of cattle fairs, fancy dress, bonny baby contests, pet shows, firework displays, an Elvis spectacular, and the sight of Mary Poppins, Bert, and Elsa - on stilts. A classic Puck Fair, then.

For a full run-down of the Puck schedule or to try and keep a track of this most buzzing of festivals, you can follow #BackForPuck on Twitter or catch them at their Twitter handle @puck_fair.

The puckfairofficial YouTube account will of course provide a range of videos, while you can also keep tabs on Puck '17 on Facebook through www.facebook.com/puckfair.