Sunday, 9 April 2017


Dear Reader,

                                                                                 The Emerald Isle

I read a ghost story this week which brought to mind my Irish grandmother.  She was very interested in "spooks" as she called them, had seen a few in Ireland, then when she came to London to live in the Ritz Hotel, Piccadilly, she apparently saw several there.  She told other guests of these apparitions and as a consequence, scared perhaps, they complained to the manager.  She was then asked to leave the hotel after living there for eighteen years.  But I never heard her speak of leprechauns which you would have thought she would have known about.

Leprechauns are a type of fairy, although the fairies of Irish folklore are not benevolent, as I think of fairies, but could be lustful, nasty, capricious creatures whose magic might delight you one day and kill you the next if you displeased them.  Leprechauns are often described as wizened bearded old men dressed in green, wearing buckled shoes and a leather apron, and sometimes they wear a pointed cap or hat and could be smoking a pipe.  Although leprechauns are often associated with riches and gold, in folklore their main vocation is anything but glamorous: they are humble shoemakers or cobblers.  Shoemaking is apparently a lucrative business in the fairy world, since each leprechaun is said to have his own pot of gold, which can often be seen at the end of a rainbow.

Belief in leprechauns and other fairies was once widespread on the Emerald Isle, and real or not I like to think they scamper about watching us from their magic lands, plotting some new adventures to amuse and delight us.



In a cottage built for a trusty groom
in the Merry Monarch's reign,
lying in a wooded valley
where the river Bure runs its course,
a woman climbs the twisting stairs,
a tilley lamp  in hand
to light her dark ascent,
the flame flickering in the glass.

In the attic bedroom
she opens the small window,
sees the ghostly watermill
in the winter moonlight,
hears the spectral cry of an owl.

She lies on her bed,
pulls up the patchwork quilt,
breathes deeply, hoping for sleep,
but, on the gravel outside
she hears the tread of footsteps.


With best wishes, Patricia


Anonymous said...

I'm fascinated by your Irish grandmother and would love to know more! As for Leprechauns, I believe we have a fair few round here. Could they have been the footsteps heard by the lady in your excellent and very spooky poem? Xx

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