This year should be the last time a live goat is used during the Puck Fair in Co Kerry, one animal rights group has said.
The annual event kicks off in Killorglin today – which will see a goat raised above the town for an hour on the opening night, and then return for a similar period of time on the closing day of the fair.
Tradition usually saw the animal spend three days and nights in a cage over the town.
National Animal Rights Association Spokesperson Laura Broxson told Newstalk Breakfast the live animal aspect has to go.
"I think the committee themselves are making an attempt to fizzle it out," she said.
"They haven't gone far enough; but if they can admit that it's wrong to keep a goat up in a cage for three days, then surely they can't think that's it's OK to have him around for a couple of hours.
"It's an attempt, but it's not good enough and it needs to be the last time that a goat is used for this fair".
Ms Broxon said any other type of goat could be used, rather than a live one.
"In no way are we saying that the Puck Fair should not continue: what we are saying is that there are alternative ways to celebrate this tradition," she said.
"If they need to have a symbolic goat figure, they could have competitions in wood-carving, sculpting, they could have an animatronic goat if they want to - they could have a teddy bear goat if they want to.
"Anything else will do, they can be innovative with this, just take live animals out of it".
Ms Broxson said people should imagine how a dog or cat would feel in the same position, if they were taken outside of their natural environment.
"If you were to put a cat or a dog up in that environment, I think everyone would be horrified and acknowledge that the animal would be afraid.
"It would be an unfamiliar, unnatural environment and it would have an affect on them".
Kerry Independent TD Michael Healy-Rae said the fair is a "safe, happy, family event."
"Hopefully despite the naysayers, and people who would rather see it abandoned and dropped - and the people who are anti-everything," he said.
"They're anti-Puck, they're anti-horse racing, they're anti-live exports.
"If they had their way we'd all be inside in a dark room, looking out the window with sad eyes and sad faces, with nowhere to go and nothing to do".
'Comfortable, warm and well-fed'
Deputy Healy-Rae said the goat is very well treated.
"I as a farmer, and the majority of people who are farming in Ireland, they don't just like animals we adore animals," he said.
"Animals are minded and cared for.... the Puck goat year after year after year, who was caught in a very safe and sound fashion, it was like going on their holidays.
"These goats are brought down off a mountain and off cliffs, where the tower that they've been put up inside the town is miniscule on height in comparison to where they would have been coming from.
"The goat is weighted, and when the festival is over the goat is weighed again.
"Every year, year after year, that goat would put on weight: no animal puts on weight unless they're comfortable, warm and well-fed," he added.
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