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This year's King Puck has been picked... But what exactly happens at the Kerry fair?

The organisers of the Puck Fair have responded to criticism from animal rights groups.

Updated at 2pm

THERE HAS BEEN quite a bit of controversy over the past couple of days over the Puck Fair that will be taking place in Killorglin, Co Kerry next week.

The festival has traditionally involved the hoisting of a live goat onto air where it is kept for two days during the festival.

This has drawn the ire of animal rights activists ARAN, who have said that they believe that the animal involved is “terrified” by the practice.

What is done to protect the goat?

Those in charge of the Puck Fair have come out in defence of the tradition, and said that much is done to ensure the well-being of the animal during the fair.

In a statement, they have outlined the extensive veterinary attention that the goat receives, and said that the welfare of the animal is, “of utmost importance to all those involved in organising Puck Fair.”

The goat is taken down from its mountain farm three weeks prior to the fair to acclimatise to its new handlers. During this period it is inspected by a vet who issues a certificate to certify its good health.

While it is being paraded, members of the public are kept back at a safe distance.

The goat is placed on the stand for 48 hours in total, starting at 6pm on 10 August and ending at 6pm on 12 August. During this time the animal is regularly checked upon and 24-hour emergency cover is in place should any incidents arise.

pfprogramme31 Participants at the festival last year

How did all this get started?

The festival is supposedly the oldest one in Ireland.

The tradition of crowning a mountain goat as King is thought to go back to ancient times, but its official origins can be traced to King James I who granted legal status to the fair in Killorglin.

In the course of the festivities, the ‘Queen of the Puck’, who is always a local primary school girl, crowns the ‘King Puck’ goat.

It is thought that the festival will draw in 100,000 visitors to the town, with MEP Sean Kelly estimating that it is worth €7 million to the local areas.

Read: Animal rights campaigners want to “take the Puck out of the fair”

Also: Nostalgic postcards take us back in time to an Ireland of old

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