As we drove along the road from Killarney towards the west coast, our driver stopped for a moment to show us the statue of a goat at Killorglin. We couldn't get out to take a picture, the road was too narrow, so these are just two of the pictures taken through the window and with drops of rain visible outside. Still, the story of the goat, which goes back to the times of Oliver Cromwell, was so interesting that I decided to use them anyway.
While the 'Roundheads' raided villages at the foot of the Mcgillycuddy Reeks, they scared a herd of wild goats grazing nearby. The frightened animals fled towards the mountains except for one 'he-goat' or 'Puck' who went towards Cill Orglain (Killorglin). Seeing him so frightened and exhausted, its inhabitants sensed the coming danger and did everything to protect themselves and their stock.
Since then a festival has been held in Killorglin on 10th-12th August every year to honour the goat. A real wild goat is caught in the mountains and crowned during a ceremony on the first day of the fair, Gathering Day. King Puck reigns only for three days and then is also ceremonially de-throned and released, probably to the poor animal's great relief. In the meantime, the town celebrates: there are parades, dressing-up parties, a horse-fair, an Irish singing competition, fireworks displays, dancing and music in the streets. The festival attracts over 100,000 visitors from all over the world every year. If you happen to be in the area at the time, don't miss it.
During our day's drive to the Dingle Peninsula, we came across what I thought was a Gypsy family plodding along the highway not far west of Tralee, at Castlegregory. This was a sight that I had not seen before and I was very glad that they were more than willing to let us take their picture! I had thought this to be a relatively new Local Custom because Ireland, due to years of famine and hardship, has never been a big magnet for wandering Gypsies. However, we were surprised on our drives through the countryside at how affluant the housing appeared. It seems that the change in Ireland's fortunes has resulted in it now being a choice for immigrants - in the summer of 1998 about 1500 Romanians arrived, mostly Roma (the new term for Gypsies). These people were fleeing from poverty in their land and many arrived hidden in container shipments on ferry runs from Cherbourg, France. However, fellow-VTer 'nomorewars' has set me straight in that the people in my photo are a completely different sect of wanders. Known as the Irish Travelers, they are physically more 'western' appearing and the thousands in their dispersed community have wandered Ireland for hundreds of years, preserving their own distinct society.
The hilly and rocky terrain of the Dingle Peninsula seems to be prime sheep raising country. We noticed that the many pastures clinging to the slopes had a good abundance of the creatures. The ancient Beehive rock dwellings also provided the sheep with shelter from the elements as evidenced by droppings on their floors!!
Tralee is home to Siamsa Tíre, Ireland's National Folk Theatre.
If you would like to sample Gaelic culture, however, the folk theatre Siamsa Tíre (pronounced, roughly, 'Sheemsa Teera') puts on a range of excellent shows featuring traditional Irish myths, songs, dance and stories. The language of the performances is Irish, but you do not need to be able to speak Irish to enjoy them. Siamsa Tíre's theatre lies near the Ashe Hall at the end of Denny Street.
RING OF KERRY:
More maps of the places I am talking about.... this one shows you the Ring of Kerry and the Skellig Ring (my favourite area)
Just to let you know what I am talking about... this is a map of Dingle Pensinula I made for you.
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