Killorglin’s controversial Puck Fair perfectly showcases how cruelty for the sake of ‘tradition’ makes anyone who thinks using animals like this - for shits and giggles - is a dick.
Here’s ‘King Puck’s sad little story.
Intro to Cruelty
If you’ve not heard of Puck Fair, and have no idea what we’re talking about, we’ll cut a long story short. Prepare to be stunned at the pettiness of mankind. Puck Fair is a street festival that takes place annually in Killgorin, Ireland. The event (and crux of the controversy) revolves around a wild Irish goat being captured, dubbed ‘King Puck’, placed in a tiny cage, and then hoisted high above the festivities for the entirety of its 3-day duration. WTF, right? You just couldn’t make this up … unless maybe you were writing a really terrible, ignorant sitcom that is met with outrage and gets cancelled after the pilot.
The 2022 Edition
If the above doesn’t sound ridiculous enough - it gets worse. This year, the international outcry further intensified, as the Puck Fair organisers refused to leave the poor animal out of their festivities despite the record-breaking heatwave that saw eye-watering temperatures sweep the country. Individuals and charities implored them to consider an alternative to using a live animal; for example, a local artist offered to create a sculpture to stand in as a symbolic goat, but nope, Puck Fair wasn’t having it.
Eventually the organisers did bow to the media pressure and released a statement saying the goat had been removed from the tower. Puck came down for a time and then he was then promptly returned to his cage in the sky. Again … WTF, guys?
This year is by no means the first year that Puck Fair has made headlines for their refusal to budge on their (apparently integral) animal cruelty. In fact, they’ve been ignoring pleas from animal rights campaigners for years. The organisers cling desperately to their ‘but it’s tradition’ excuse (because ‘that’s the way it’s always been done’ is a great reason to keep doing something, right?) But that just doesn’t make sense no matter how you slice this cruelty-cake.
Firstly, as stated above, ‘tradition’ is a shallow, outdated, obtuse and just-plain-stupid reason to stubbornly continue doing something archaic that we (modern, intelligent humans) now understand is wrong. Secondly, Puck Fair itself doesn’t even understand what the tradition is or why it’s always been done. On their official website they pose numerous theories and ultimately state that they don’t know when or why the fair started. Okay then.
More Dick Moves
In the wake of all this chaos we made a Freedom of Information Act Request to DAFM, asking for any documentation pertaining to the department’s involvement in the keeping of the “Puck” goat at the 2022 Puck Fair. We want to understand if everyone, the private vet involved, the DAFM etc are discharging their obligations to protect welfare.
But, unsurprisingly, yet inexplicably, some information was refused and other information redacted, on the grounds that the information held may A) result in a financial loss or gain to the person involved (so they seem to know it would damage the fair’s reputation), and B) that releasing the information would involve the disclosure of personal information. To that we say … ‘What? Whose? The goat's? Huh?’. But seriously this personal information is becoming a crutch on which public bodies seem to lean to refuse everything. It's exhausting.
Why is it that when we ask for information to show that people have discharged their welfare obligations - we always get met with such opposition? If it's all good - WHY NOT SHOW US IT'S ALL GOOD?
So, WTF We Gonna Do About It?
Since Puck Fair showed no intention of changing course this year, or in future years, we’ve now turned the spotlight on Diageo (the parent company of Guinness,
who sponsor the fair) to encourage them to drop their sponsorship of the festival, thus forcing Puck Fair to acknowledge their failings and act. For a huge, international brand such as Diageo, being associated with such blatant, nonsensical cruelty is patently not a good look. You can read our letter to them below where we outline, nice and clearly, just why Puck Fair is in breach of fundamental animal welfare standards.
This letter was supported and signed by The National Animal Rights Association, Ethical Farming Ireland, My Lovely Horse Rescue and Bev Truss an RVN, all fantastic organisations/people - we recommend checking them out.
There’s no place for Puck Fair, in its current iteration, in the 21st century. It is an international embarrassment for Killgorin and creates a spectacle out of the desecration of a wild animal’s fundamental freedoms as set out by the 2013 Animal Health and Welfare Act, which are: freedom from hunger and thirst, discomfort, fear, distress, pain, injury and disease, and freedom to express normal behaviour. The poor wild goat selected annually to be subjected to this cruelty is undeniably deprived of some of these freedoms. And for what?
‘King Puck’ is certainly not treated as royalty. He is a prop, a prisoner, and above all, a wild animal - imprisoned for the sake of a cheap stunt and exploited in the name of a nonsensical old ritual that no one understands.
If you're as outraged as us by this issue, you can sign this petition calling on the organisers to leave the puckin' goat alone in future years, or you can donate so that we can keep fightin' this fight and hundreds of others like it. Heck yes.