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News crier Here we have a news crier at one of the big leprechaun festivals. Their two greatest fairs are held on May Eve and Halloween, which divide the year for them into its warm and cool halves. They are times when leprechauns (and the rest of the fairy folk) move home to make the best of the weather. On May Eve they gather at special places around Ireland for dancing and singing and no end of other entertainments. The greatest feast of all is the Beltane Fair of Uisnech in County Westmeath. Here leprechauns come from all corners of Ireland to exchange songs and riddles and stories. It is a great melting pot and all the usual rivalries are suspended. It is a time for settling disputes and making new friends.

Halloween marks the start of winter. It is also a celebration of the harvest and all that kind of thing but the mood is more sombre and reflective than May Eve. Halloween is also a time of mischief because, as everyone knows, on that night the gates between this and the otherworld are thrown open and all kinds of bogles walk abroad. Leprechauns themselves are not much bothered by the likes of the banshee, the morrigan and the rest because they know how to avoid them. And besides, it is a night when they are licensed to behave as wildly as they like themselves, so in a sense they are part of the mayhem and may well be the ones playing tricks on you.