Leprechaun

29/11/19

The little bearded man of Irish folklore goes back to medieval times; in the 'Adventures of Fergus Mac Léti' the eponymous hero falls asleep on an Ulster beach and wakes to find himself being dragged into the sea by three 'lúchorpáin'. He captures his abductors, who grant him three wishes in exchange for their release. There seems to be various local variations of the creature depending where you are in Ireland, but generally they were a small man with mischievous intent, usually wearing red (not green) clothing, who spend their time mending shoes. They can grant you three wishes if you catch one and bury their treasure at the end of the rainbow.

‘McCoillte’ Kevin Woods claims to be Ireland’s last Leprechaun Whisperer. In 1989, what was described as a 'Leprechaun suit', bones, and gold coins were found on Carlingford mountain in Co Louth and Kevin arranged a 'Leprechaun hunt' for the elusive creatures, but none could be found. Then in 2002, Woods found some more coins in a wall which he says have given him the ability to communicate with the “Carraig” who apparently serves as the elder of the 236 surviving leprechauns, secretly living in the region. In 2009 these 236 surviving Leprechauns in Ireland were afforded protection under the European Habitats Directive.

The Leprechaun has come to represent Ireland in a way that similar Scottish mythological faerie-like creatures such as Kelpies, Ghillie Dhu, Bodach, Bogle or Broonie have not, but perhaps only Nessie has. The green clad, little ginger-haired, bearded imp is ubiquitous on St Patrick's Day around the world and a must-find for tourists visiting the "Emerald Isle". Near were the supposed suit and gold were found in 1989, the "Leprechaun and Fairy Underground Cavern" gets 5* reviews on trip advisor, and the finder of the suit, local businessman PJ O'Hare, has had it on display in his popular pub ever since.

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