Fairies, Giants, Minions, Demons, Witches and Wizards, Gods and Goddesses, Heroes and Heroines, Villains and Rogues; Ireland is home to some of the most infamous legends ever told. One of the most celebrated characters of all to stem from Irish soil is the Leprechaun (Gaeilge: Leipreachán). What if we were to declare that the little green men of Ireland are not a Myth but an actual fact as real as you or I? Most people would think us crazy.
However not in Carlingford they don’t. Carlingford is home to the Last Living Leprechauns of Ireland who occupy the caves and tunnels deep within the Slieve Foy Mountain. Kevin Woods is a Carlingford local known as MacCoillte. He is celebrated by many as the Last Leprechaun Whisperer of Ireland. MacCoillte’s gift was not a choice but something he acquired in his native village.
One of the first indications of Leprechaun Life in Carlingford was in 1989 which brought a peculiar series of events to the village. When a Leprechaun suit with 4 gold coins in its pocket was discovered on Slieve Foy Mountain next to miniature bones on an area of scorched earth questions were undoubtedly raised. The man, who found it, was the local publican PJ O’Hare of PJ’s as we still know it today. PJ confided in his friend MacCoillte (Woods) about his findings. At first MacCoillte was sceptical and initially set out to prove PJ and the existence of Leprechauns deceptive.
PJ however was so convincing that MacCoillte eventually submitted to searching for more Little People to prove whether or not his friend’s conviction was credible. MacCoillte organised the first National Leprechaun Hunt on Slieve Foy Mountain to see if any could be found. As part of the hunt he hid five ceramic statues with 1000 Irish Pounds prize money under each as an incentive to go hunting. Additionally leprechaun hunting licences were sold for 10 pounds to encourage more attention. Unfortunately the Hunters could not find any real leprechauns and only located the statues. P.J. O’Hare died some years later. The suit and bones were put in a glass case in his pub for all to see to this day. No one knows what happened to the gold coins.
In 2002 MacCoillte found some gold coins buried in an old stone wall on Ghan Road which enabled him to communicate with “Carraig”, the elder of the 236 surviving leprechauns. He now works tirelessly to conserve the magical species and in doing so he has created a Leprechaun Cave for people to experience a homestead recreation of the Leprechauns without disturbing the mountain itself.
In 2009 the Leprechauns of Carlingford were afforded protection by the E.U. Commission under the European Habitats Directive.