Carlingford where Ireland’s Leprechaun Hunt takes place

They like their legends in Ireland, and according to legend in 1989 a local publican P.J.OHare was on Slieve Foy Mountain near Carlingford in County Louth. Apparently, he heard a scream coming from the area of the Wishing Well located below Slate Rock. He investigated and found an area of burnt ground to the left of the well and lying beside it there was a little hat, jacket, and trousers, the clothes of a Leprechaun.

In the pocket of the jacket were 4 gold coins but even more mysteriously, lying beside his clothes, were his bones. PJ. has since been called to heavenly so can’t be questions about what really happened. The suit and bones remain in a display case in the pub he once owned in Tholsel Street Carlingford which is still known as PJs.

The whereabouts of the Gold coins are said to be known to one other person in the community but he maintains he cannot divulge their whereabouts.

But it doesn’t really matter, because any legend is a good excuse for the Irish to celebrate, particularly each March around St Patrick’s Day.

Nowadays, they help to celebrate St Pat’s Day with an annual Leprechaun Hunt.

With a remarkable coincidence, the first Leprechaun hunt began in 1989 the year a set of leprechaun clothes were found by PJ. Following overwhelming interest by the general public the hunt ceased until the area obtained a Special Protection order from the EU and the mountain was officially designated as Special Protection Area for Little People in 2010.

The Hunt is now an annual event where people are invited to go and hunt for ceramic leprechauns adjacent to the SPA on the mountain. To participate in the hunt, a licence must be purchased which entitles a person to prospect on the mountain for leprechauns. With due respect to the Little People, the public are asked to refrain from disturbing the area where the leprechauns exist and not to attempt to capture any of The Little People themselves.

You don’t really have to believe the legend to participate, but a fantastic day out is guaranteed for persons of any age and all proceeds from the hunt are in aid of Our Children’s Hospital Crumlin and other charities, making it a much more worthwhile activity than drinking grotesque green beer.

Carlingford and the Cooley Peninsula, County Louth, are located just over an hour’s drive from Ireland’s two major cities of Dublin and Belfast. In 2008 Carlingford was honoured with the award of Ireland’s European Destination of Excellence.

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