Sunday, March 29, 2020

LEPRECAT pp.two and three, pt. b

                      LEPRECAT: off into the Woods again


1. This case is from the Reminiscences book by the famous author Sabine Baring-Gould. The exact date was not given, but the children were children, so early 19th century. The exact location wasn't given either, but Baring=Gould is famous enough so that should be easy enough to find out. 

There is not much to the story (this is normal for almost all of the credible cases --- the incident is almost accidental, and it is not complicated. It is brief, and it merely happens and goes away without any great  fanfare nor "message.") The children were out at play, when they were confronted by a classic dwarf or gnome. It was dressed with a red cap, green jacket, and brown breeches. It simply stared at them, and the children thought it might be hostile to their presence. They went and told their parents. (these children also saw Little People on one other occasion. ) The famous parent believed them. 

Bare bones but also to me believable. This minimalist encounter could almost be the poster child for what passes as normal in this business. 

2. Llanddeniol, Wales. c. 1850. This incident was personally reported to the "investigator" by the witness himself. (always a welcome feature,  and often hard to come by.) 

 Just to show everyone what an individual case page might look like in the Leprecat, here's the one for this incident. Note that, like almost all such things, the material that you have to work with is limited. (and that's why collecting a LOT of it is necessary.) 

The story:  The witness, John Jones, was a servant on a farm and 18 years old at the time. That particular day, he left for town to pick up a suit of clothes at the tailor's. The suit was not quite ready, so by the time he received it, it was late in the day. He decided to make the walk back even though it was night. It was well moon-lit and he didn't mind the pleasant walk across the intervening moor. 

Into the moor, he saw behind him what looked to be two boys following. Thinking that they meant to frighten him, he kept watch, but soon they turned away. They then "began to jump and to dance, going round and round as if they followed a ring or a circle just as we hear of the fairies. They were perfectly white and very nimble." 

John Jones felt that he was watching something supernatural and never believed that these two dancers were human beings. In this, his view was shared by everyone at the house and farm, where the unanimous view was that he had seen the fairies. 

Generally I like the tale. Simply told by the primary source, and with just enough strangeness (the all-white coloration)  to make it anomalous. It would have been better if he could have gotten closer to see the details, but we rarely get all we want.

The Wicklow Mountains of Ireland, c.1850 ... ah, and it's a wild old tale from Ireland we have here, for sure, for sure. (We'll see just how romantic you are with this, and if you're a right companion on this green romp we are about.) 

The story:  Lady Augusta Gregory and William Butler Yeats went into the Wicklow Mountains to interview a couple of very advanced age who had an astounding story to tell. This story was well-known and oft-told by the couple. 

They had recently married (then about 60-70 years ago) and were living in a small place in the rural village of Ticnock. The couple had experienced the Little Folk previously --- the husband by sight and sound (music) and the wife (who was more afraid of the fairies) only by hearing their music and drumming. Things changed when they had the almost ultimate Close Encounter.

It was winter and the husband found a smaller than usual "little person" abandoned in the snow. Fearing for it, he picked the little fellow up and brought him inside. He had a red cap, and was cloaked in red in clothes "just like a highlander." He had a checkered coat and long socks. The only non-red part of his attire were tan shoes. His height was 15 inches tall. 

The farmer sat him on the bureau where he stayed the entirety of his time with them (the two disagreed about how long, but between one and three weeks.) They couldn't say for sure (not observing this) but they felt that the little fellow must have slept just there on the bureau where he was originally placed. 

Husband and wife both fed him bread and milk, but the wife was too afraid to do but leave the food near him, while the husband went as far as to feed him with a spoon. His demeanor throughout was "very friendly" though he spoke little. The little being was very childlike in appearance to begin with but seemed to slowly age or "roughen" as days went by. 

Maybe the most astonishing claim by the witnesses was that the "boys" from the local pub would sometimes come up to the house to look at him. They'd try to make fun, but the farmer wouldn't let them harm him. The drinkers would claim that surely the farmer would reap some fortune in bounty due to this hospitality. The farmer grunted that if there were riches to be had "I never got them." 

One day the farmer spotted another of the Little Folk who he reckoned from appearance was a girl, though slightly larger than his guest. She was not as brightly dressed, being clad more in gray. That evening he told his wife that he saw her. The little fellow on the bureau then jumped up shouting "That's Geoffrey-a-wee that's coming for me." He then lept off the dresser and out the door never to be seen again. It's amusing to think that all the farmer was wondering about this was why his guest called the other "leprechaun" Geoffrey when "she" should have had a girl's name. (It is actually little things like that which make the listener feel like the reporter is telling the tale as it truly happened --- rather than a smoothed over fairy tale.) 

Lady Gregory doesn't critique her sightings but just goes to the next one. It would be VERY interesting to know what she and Yeats thought of this one. This one pushed you --- it has most of what you want in a story: two original witnesses interviewed by well-known persons, and having an apparently verbatim Q&A transcript. (you NEVER get this in this field.) But WOW what a story. 

This is my hang-up, I admit. I'm too far from those times and those environments. I don't mind (at all) the quick and impersonal accident of a stumbled-upon interaction along a rural dirt road or a forested way. But this is right next to the skin. If this story is true, it's game over as far as whether beings such as this are real. Their detailed characteristics are still to be explored --- but they are no longer hypothetical. So, what should I, and you, do? I'm, for the moment, taking the "conservative" way (though I suspect that it's just The Chicken's way) and nervously keep walking in these enchanted woods. I'll claim that it's the Way of the Scientist, and whistle as I walk. 

Till next time --- Watch The Skies for the UFOs, sure; but Watch the Bushes for Something considerably closer. 


  1. re Baring-Gould: I intend to write about this next in my Anomalies blog. However, he provided full details in his 1891 book, "In Troubadour-Country",pp 65-66. His own experience took place when his family were crossing a region in southern France called the Crau. He was 5 years old, so this would have been in 1839. His son's experience took place in 1884. As he was 8 years old at the time, the son would have been William. His wife, Grace had her experience when she was 13, which would have been in the early 1860s. She was 14 when he met her, so she would have been living in West Riding, Yorkshire.

    1. Thanks, much. Researching "everything" is hard (and impossible), and that's why we need to act like a helpful sharing family --- as you have kindly done. As for me, I had this brief and vague mention of what was an intuitively good case, but facing an ocean of other demands. So, as I hoped, someone else has stepped up. Applause.

  2. I did a bit more research, and it turned out that Grace Baring-Gould née Taylor was born on 27 March 1850, so her experience would have been in 1863, almost certainly near Horbury in Yorkshire.

    1. Thanks again for cleaning up the vague errors in the other article that was available.

    2. This comment has been removed by the author.

    3. On further review, I believe the son was actually Julian. I have now published the full account of the sightings:



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