From top: Leprechaun postcard, 1900; Nottingham Evening Post item on the Killough Leprechaun
Room for a little one?
Historical blogger Sibling of Daedalus writes:
We all know that Ireland is the home of the leprechaun but when was one last actually seen? Recent leprechaun sightings are few and far between in the newspaper archives, with the most recent one being almost one hundred years ago.
On Monday, 20 April 1908, the Irish Times reported a sighting at Killough, County Westmeath, of a little man of dwarfish proportions in a red jacket, suiting the traditional description of a leprechaun.
The news occasioned great excitement in the district, and a wholesale hunt for the man in the belief that his discovery would lead the finder to a crock of gold.
This search proved unsuccessful, and a subsequent letter-writer to the Times suggested that what had in fact been seen was a blue baboon which had recently escaped from a travelling circus in the neighbourhood.
However on August 13, 1908, it was reported that a ‘little man’ had in fact been captured in a wood near the town of Mullingar, and admitted as a (presumably non-simian) inmate to the local workhouse.
He was described as eating ‘greedily’ and communicating only in ‘a peculiar sound between a growl and a squeal‘
Very quickly thereafter, a representative of an American museum and theatre of varieties in Glasgow visited the workhouse, and, following an agreement with the supposed leprechaun and his father, took him to Glasgow by the midday train, apparently with a view to his appearing in a music-hall.
Although both parties were described as leaving ‘in the best of spirits,’ there are no further reports of the Killough leprechaun either in a music-hall or elsewhere.
Sibling of Daedalus writes:
In 1913, a tenant farmer in Tullamore was taken to court for having a filthy residence. It was stated in court that he was the leprechaun’s father and had sold him for £10. Some disapproval of this was expressed in light of the fact that the leprechaun had been ‘hardly tamed‘ at the time of his sale.
It appears that the purchaser was Mr Pickard, of the Panopticon Music Hall, Glasgow, who exhibited an Irish leprechaun there between 1908 and 1914. Also part of the show for some of this period was the young Stan Laurel, later to become famous as part of the double-act Laurel and Hardy. Perhaps the Leprechaun ended up in Hollywood too?
More as we get it.