NIGEL WATSON cast his mind back to 1964 when beings described as ‘leprechauns’ caused chaos on Merseyside: two classic cases of modern fairy sightings.
The Beatles were not the only group to send people wild in Liverpool during the summer of 1964. Leprechauns were seen on the bowling green in Jubilee Park. A 9-year-old boy told a reporter: ‘Last night I saw little men in white hats throwing stones and mud at each other on the bowling green. Honest mister, I did.’
Liverpool Parks Police Constable, James Nolan said: ‘This all started on Tuesday (June 30). How I just don’t know, but the sooner it ends the better. Stones have been thrown on the bowling green and for the second night running no-one has been able to play. The kids just won’t go away. Some swear they have seen leprechauns. The story has gone round and now we are being besieged with leprechaun hunters.’
The search for these mud-throwing leprechauns reached such a frenzy that several children suffered from cuts and bruises and a temporary first aid shelter had to be set up to treat them.
In 1982, Brian Jones claimed that he started the Liverpool scare when he was doing some gardening. He was wearing a red waistcoat and bobble hat that made him look like a leprechaun. When some children looked at him, he jumped up and down and threw some grass turfs at them. This started the rumour and he ‘entertained’ the crowds of children in this manner for a few more nights. More recently, it has been claimed that the Park constable James Nolan made up the story, and things just escalated from that. Another explanation is that some circus people who were living nearby had caused the scare.
None of them sounds very convincing and do not explain sightings like Linda Tahmasebi’s, who claims: ‘I was one of the school children that saw those leprechauns. I attended Brae Street School and we all saw them popping in and out of a window overlooking the school yard. There were about four of them, all tiny, dressed like a school-book idea of a typical gnome and they sat swinging their legs on the window ledge getting in and out. What they were I don’t know, I only know what they looked like. I’d love to know the truth!’
As the leprechaun hunt subsided in Liverpool, a similar one erupted in nearby Kirkby. On Friday, July 10, hundreds of children were convinced there were leprechauns in St Chad’s churchyard. There were reports of a UFO that changed from red to silver as it moved across the sky, and descriptions of classic, 8-inch tall leprechauns wearing knee breaches with red and green tunics. These little people spoke in a strong Irish brogue. For two days, the police had to chase away the children from St Chad’s and the grounds of St Marie’s Roman Catholic School and Mother of God Church, Northwood, Kirkby.
Eddie McArdle provides an excellent insight into this spate of sightings: ‘I remember the story well as I have a scar as a constant reminder of the event. We, the kids from St Marie’s, Kirkby, went en masse into the church and as we hunted the little people some bright spark shouted that they were coming out after us.
‘Panic ensued and as we all fled quicker than we entered. A boy who is sadly no longer with us swung the church gate in his haste to escape, and I was hit on the forehead by the metal cross on it. As far as I know I am the only person injured by the little visitors.’
Uncanny UK is always interested in modern fairy sightings – please let us know of similar incidents, especially if you or anyone you know has seen the ‘little people’.
c. Nigel Watson 2011 The illustration is by W Heath Robinson