THE Co. Kerry town of Killorglin is famous for its Puck Fair, a three-day extravaganza of music, pageantry, craic, horsetrading, buying and selling, drinking, dancing and sporting activities.
And that’s just in one of the pubs! Only joking — Killorglin’s festivals have the reputation of taking over the whole town, with its pubs, restaurants and hotels throbbing with life and craic.
Killorglin’s official population of some 2,100 swells considerably during Puck Fair — a traditional gathering held in early August, and the oldest continuously held fair in Ireland.
It has officially been going since 1603 when it got its charter, but for many centuries before that the craic has been at a constant ninety.
Somewhat less well known than Puck Fair is Killorglin’s other major festival, the Harvest Gathering, held on the last weekend in September.
This features the Wildflower of the Laune Festival pageant — the Laune, in case you need reminding, is the river that runs through Killorglin, eventually emptying into the sea at Castlemaine Harbour.
The Wildflower competition is already underway, and there’ll be a chance to meet the finalists before the glittering coronation of the Wildflower herself on Saturday night, one of the highlights of the festival.
Throughout the weekend, dancing will feature strongly, naturally enough; this is Kerry after all.
You can take your pick from a barn dance, a farrier dance at the Old Forge, or merely enjoy the intricate footwork and elegant style of the Strictly Come Dancing troupe.
There is likely to be much impromptu dancing as well. Traditional music will also be a mainstay of the weekend, with folk sessions and ballads — as well as storytelling — going full throttle in Killorglin’s pubs.
As well as the Old Forge, Kerry’s Vintage Inn, Falvey’s and The Railway Bar will all be featuring entertainment. Sunday is a must for those with a grá for nostalgia.
Vintage Threshing Day will feature live displays of threshing down through the ages. Killorglin will welcome one of the country’s first mechanical threshers — an Andrew Meikle contraption invented by the eponymous Scotsman, and cranked by hand and pedal.
Before that it was all hand flails, with the flailing going on until it was time for the winnowing — the process whereby the chaff is separated from the grain.
You’ll hear the whole story in Killorglin, with exhibits including various versions of threshing machines right through to modern times.
Also on hand will be the working horses who pulled these great machines — huge Clydesdales, Irish draught horses, Shire horses.
The festival, which runs September 26-29, is part of Killorglin’s series of gatherings.
It will, once again, underline that terrific feature of the town, its strong sense of community.
It’s this mutual community support — or ‘meitheal’ as they say in those parts — which allows the people of Killorglin to organise fantastic local events, celebrating the town’s unique identity.
And while these are local events, everyone is welcome — which is why Killorglin is famous throughout the world as a fabulous, festival and party town.
If you’re thinking of an autumn break, you could scarcely do better — guaranteed craic and entertainment set amongst some of Ireland’s loveliest scenery.
For further details check out the Facebook page — Wildflower of the Laune
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