With the 401st Puck Fair already over I suppose it is about time I published my resume of the 400th anniversary celebrations in 2013!
If you want to party for three days and generally have a time to remember then Killorglin, Co. Kerry, is the place to be between the 10th and 12th August any year you choose.
Of course this year was different as an extra day was added to celebrate the 400th – yes hundredth – anniversary of the granting of a charter by James 1 of England.
Nobody is quite sure of the true origins but, for as long as anybody can remember, they have been crowing a goat as King Puck and he rules over the town for the three day extravaganza known as Puck Fair.
With John & Catherine at the Bianconi
Thanks to our good friends John and Catherine McGrath we were able to get a room in the Bianconi Inn right in the centre of town. This is the best accommodation in the area by far.
We arrived on Friday evening which was, on the whole, pretty quiet and the bars only had extensions to 2 a.m. rather than 4 a.m. which is the norm for the rest of the festivities.
Over the weekend there was the Horse Fair,
The horse Fair
Cattle Market and a myriad of events for all ages in the square. The evening concerts on the main stage at the top of the town were packed to capacity.
The St John’s Mill Theatre Company held performances of The Tempest at Ballykissane Pier and it was undoubtedly a perfect setting for the best amateur performance I have seen.
Only in Count Kerry would you find a town that has been crowning a goat king for for the past 399 years.
It’s not too often that one gets a call to visit Kerry on business and even less often for it to be in Killorglin, home of the Puck Fair. Unfortunately this three day event doesn’t take place until August and not even I could hope to hang out a visit for that length of time.
With the chance of a contract in the offing Josephine and I set off to revisit the town that we last set foot in together around 15 years ago. The drive from Belfast now takes under 5 hours as opposed to the seven in those days.
Our hosts, the committee of Killorglin CYMS, had kindly organised accommodation for us and I had asked John and his wife, Catherine, to meet us in the town for dinner. I left it to him to book a table at a convenient hostelry as Nick’s Place now shuts up shop from October to Easter.
We arrived at Laune Bridge House around seven and were made truly welcome by Tina with pots of tea and coffee and slices of coffee cake.
River Laune from the Bridge
We had plenty of time to spruce up before meandering up the road to the Bianconi Inn not five minutes away. This is a another family owned affair and was fairly buzzing with activity when we arrived. John and Catherine followed shortly after and we were shown to our table.
Drinks were ordered and we tried to decide on food. I cannot resist Crab claws in garlic butter so was the only one to have a starter. Surprise, surprise! The rest chose variously warm smoked salmon salad, a vegetarian salad and a large sirloin. Just to be different I had a kilo of mussels in wine and cream sauce. For wine we went with a merlot which would have been hard to fault. The food was par excellence! The smoked salmon was to wonder at and everybody got a taste. The service was friendly and efficient and the prices reasonable – under €150 for 4 people with drinks and coffee cannot be bad.
Good friends already
Apparently the rooms have all been refurbished which would have been nice if they had had any unoccupied.
John then enticed us to visit his local, Falvey’s, for a nightcap.
Never ones to refuse we tripped round the corner and were met with a “traditional” Irish bar.
Full of the local football team completing their midweek training and various other characters including Pat Healy the chairman of the committee and motor sport enthusiast. As always happens in this sort of environment “a nightcap” consists of more than one over a couple of hours and we finally made our farewells and floated back to the lodgings around 1a.m.
After a good nights sleep we were treated to an excellent breakfast: forwent the “full irish” in favour of scrambled local free range eggs, bacon and Clontakilty pudding.
Then it was off to the CYMS hall to do some work. After some couple of hours or so we decided coffee was in order and we sat out on the pavement in the sun for half an hour or so. Of course the lass serving us was also family.
It was a pleasure doing business with people who made one feel welcome and a part of the project. Especially Maura who wanted answers to everything and then some: that’s engineers for you!!
All too soon it was time to depart, having promised to return for the 400th Puck Fair – if not sooner, on the seemingly longer journey back – with a short mandatory stopover in Adare for some shopping – but that’s another story