For over a century and a half, the arrival of each New Year is celebrated in Portmagee with a unique custom called 'The Old Year'.

The event centres around a street parade led by a piper with blazing turf torches and a local man dressed as the 'Old Year'. The old man becomes increasingly decrepit until, on the stroke of midnight a shot rings out and he disappears. A vibrant young man depicting the 'New Year' appears and takes over the parade – greeting all the locals as he passes. The identity of the 'New Year' is kept secret each year to add to the excitement.