Welcome to the Emerald Isle Resort and Theme Park™. Now where are you tanned lot from? Let me guess: the States. Sure I knew it from your smiles. No one else has a smile as wide and bright as a Yank, that’s the truth. It makes us all the happier to see you. Brightens our day. What are your names, little ones? Jessica? That’s a beautiful name: Jessica. Sing-song, so it is. And what about you, young man with the Chicago Bulls hat? Gone quiet, are you? Sure maybe your mammy knows your name. What’s that, mammy? His name’s Jerome. Oh, that’s another great name. Ye must have a thing for the letter ‘J’, do ye? Well, that’s handy, as my name is Johnny.
Can ye tell what I am from my outfit? Yes, the green sparkly hat; the green pants, and waistcoat. A leprechaun, that’s right, Jessica. Top marks. I suppose I am a bit tall for a leprechaun, now that you mention it. Here, take a piece of gold from my pot, Jessica. I’ll let you in on a secret – this gold’s much tastier than normal gold. Yes, that’s right; it is chocolate.
So how long are ye over here for? Two weeks, sure that’s a grand stretch. Is it your first time? Oh, that is exciting. Tracing the family history. And what’s your family name? Bradley. There are one or two Bradleys around these parts, alright. All criminals. I’m only messing with ye, I’m only kidding. No need to go so pale.
What’s that, Jessica? This is the Potato Famine Zone. Would you like to go on one of the rides? Well, there’s the Eviction Slide, that’s a popular one, but I’d recommend the Famine Ship Rapids. As long as you’ve brought a spare pair of clothes with you. You get a fair splashing on that ride. Maybe later? Alright so. Yes, Jerome? Sure that’s a lovely strong voice on you there; you should use it more often. Of course you can have some chocolate gold. Your mammy checks her phone a lot, doesn’t she? Always tapping away at it. Wait, no, that isn’t gold, Jerome. That’s for me. I thought I had it buried deeper. Yes, lad, you’re spot-on, the bottle is half-empty – although I thought ye Yanks would be more optimistic and say it’s half-full. I use it to heat me up. Take some more gold there, Jerome, and don’t tell your parents about my hot-water bottle. Good lad. Sure us J’s have to stick together. High-five. Jaysus, you nearly blew my hand away. The strength on you. Like a boxer, you are.
Alright Bradley clan, follow me so and I’ll lead you into our next zone. This is my favourite area of the park. What zone is it, you ask. It’s the Myth & Legend Zone, the neighbourhood where I belong. Look, by the statue of the three swans, see the man with the great big beard and staff? Yes, Jerome, top marks for you this time. That is Saint Patrick. Face of a saint on him, as well. You’d never think that face owes me fifty quid, would you? Once he doesn’t try and pay me back in miracles, amn’t I right? He already got rid of the snakes, so they say. Although I for one still notice plenty around.
See that muscly, peacocking group beside Patrick? That’s Fionn McCool and the Fianna, a legendary band of warriors who roamed Ireland back in ancient times. Don’t they look fearsome? Which one is Fionn? Well, the one with the sunglasses, of course. Sure you need to be wearing shades if your surname is McCool, amn’t I right? Something of the Fonz about him; Mr B knows what I’m talking about. That’s a powerful laugh on you, good sir. And you can see plenty more leprechauns. As my boss Frank Kelly says: you can never have enough leprechauns. The fecking Yanks love leprechauns. Oh, yeah, sorry, Mr B; no more cursing, of course.
Next I’ll lead ye into this marquee where a creature of immense beauty resides. Queen Maeve, the powerful ruler of the west of Ireland in the time of giants and druids. What’s that enormous bull about, you want to know, Mr Bradley. You’ll have to watch the next show to find that out. It starts in half an hour. And that man with the spear – that’s probably the most famous figure in Irish mythology, Cúchulainn. I’m not sure if he’s all that amazing, though, if I’m being honest. Excuse me a moment, Bradleys, I need to talk to the queen. Check out the Tír-na-nÓg Gift Shop while ye’re waiting. Don’t worry, little Jerome, I’ll be right back. High five. Good lad. My queen. My queen? Sarah.
Right, let’s go. What’s that, Jessica? No, no, Cúchulainn wasn’t really angry with me. The shove looked real, you say. And the way I fell over seemed painful. I had to make it look realistic, didn’t I? That’s why I’m limping. Queen Maeve did shout at me, but it was all part of the act, Jessica. All part of the show.
Where am I leading you? On a slight detour. Are any of you thirsty? I saw you nod, Jerome. That’s good as I’m taking us to a place where we can get a quick drink. Then we’ll continue with the guided tour, I promise. We’ll return to Fionn McCool and his sunglasses afterwards. Careful, mind your step. You’re right, Mr B; it is a clever name, alright: The Paddy Wagon Tavern. No one behind the bar. Too early, I suppose. What’s that, Mr B? Of course I’m allowed back here; I’m a leprechaun. We’re allowed everywhere. We are magic, after all. Anything for you? It looks bad if I only serve myself. A Guinness, Mr B? Fair play, it’s not every day you’re in Ireland, after all. And I wouldn’t worry about that glare Mrs Bradley is daggering you with; I’ll pour her a G&T next. She looks like she fancies a good G&T after all that texting. And two cans of Coke for the little ones. No need for the frowns; it’s natural for leprechauns to down whiskey straight. Look: another measure. No problem.
What’s that, Jerome? What’s happened to my accent? It’s just taking a little break; it’ll be back soon. Scout’s honour. You’re right, Mr B; Guinness is an acquired taste. I’ll pour you another, help you and the stout become more familiar. Ah, he can have one more, surely, Mrs Bradley. No? Fair enough. It is early, I suppose. Maybe you should move on and leave me to my work, you say, Mrs Bradley. No, no, there’s no need for that. Let me just finish this last bit here and I’ll return to playing your green-hued Virgil. Who’s Virgil, you want to know, Mrs Bradley. Have you never heard of The Divine Comedy? No? Never mind, it’s not important.
Alright, that’ll do me for a while. Let’s head, shall we? Where would you like to go next? You want to go back and see Queen Maeve, do you? She is beautiful, alright, Jessica, isn’t she. A true-to-life vision. What did you hear me say to her? I can see the real you. I said something like that, alright. No, she didn’t take too kindly to it. She enjoys that role of hers too much, it seems. She’s become very high-and-mighty. Queen Maeve. Sarah. She’s no better than Trish, as it turns out. Till death do us part, Trish promised me. Turned out death just meant me losing my job in The Presentation Secondary School. Wasn’t even my fault; it was just a misunderstanding.
What’s that, Jessica? Queen Maeve and Cúchulainn do make a pretty couple. You’re spot-on. Did you know that I applied for the position of Cúchulainn? That’s what first brought me here. I mean, I have the build for it, don’t I? Still have a bit of muscle from my footballing days. At forty-three, I didn’t think I was too old for the part. I’m tall enough, too, and the baldness isn’t an issue since I’d have to wear a wig, anyway. But Frank Kelly was focused on building his legion of leprechauns. He ended up giving Dave Kissane the Cúchulainn gig. Dave. You’d find more personality in a cow’s wet arse. Ah it’s fine, Mrs Bradley, they’re giggling.
Yes, Jessica, I am taking you away from the Myth Zone. I thought you’d like to see the only place I’ve yet to guide you through. We’ve almost arrived. It’s the Revolutionaries & Rebellions Zone, and features famous Irish revolutionaries from throughout history.
Look, we’re here. What’s that, Jerome? You want to know who the man in the wolf costume is, do you? That’s Wolfe Tone, a brave man who helped plan a rebellion against the British in the eighteenth century. No, he wasn’t really a wolf. That’s just a costume that someone – Frank Kelly, most likely – thought was a good idea. The only suggestion I made for the park was to add a literature zone. But Frank wasn’t interested. Said no one cares about that sort of stuff anymore. Perhaps he’s right.
What’s that, Mr B? You want me to dial up the accent again. The kids like it, you say. I don’t know, they seem to be enjoying my company regardless. Put away your money, Mr Bradley; that’s not what I was getting at. No, that isn’t code for I want more. Put it away.
Fine, fine, if that’s what you want, I’ll do it. No, you haven’t insulted me. Look, here you go, begosh. Is this better now? Tis great to see ye all smiling again, begorrah. This is what ye want so, is it? Even Mrs Bradley is taking time away from texting that lovely lad of hers back home, amn’t I right? This is my role now, I suppose; I might as well accept it. Give the audience what they want and all that.
No need to go so red-faced, Mr B; sure I’m only messing about your wife. Pulling your leg, as we say. Not literally, of course. Sure I could hardly fit my arm around that jiggling trunk. Watching you boulder about has been the highlight of my day, begosh. Like watching jelly walk. Ah, you know I’m messing, so I am. Although did you see the way your wife went wide-eyed after I mentioned the bit of meat back home? I’d worry about that. Top of the morning to you, Bradleys. You know, in all my life I’ve never heard an Irish person use that expression. Careful, Mr B, you’re looking mighty red, so you are. Wouldn’t want you getting a heart attack. No need to shove me like that; you’ll over-exert yourself. You don’t want to be living up to your family history as a delinquent, now do you? And look, you’re scaring the children.
It’s alright, Jerome; your daddy and I are just acting. Like a couple of eejits, we are. I’m not bad; what gave you that idea? High five? No? Okay, well, maybe next time. Mrs Bradley there’s no need to shout like that. Really ye’re creating quite a scene, begosh. No Mr B, you better watch it. You don’t want to cross ways with a leprechaun. Fierce bad luck involved. One more push like that and you’ll see what I mean. There’s no need to cry, little Jessica. No need for all those tears. Look, right on time, here comes the Head Leprechaun himself, Frank Kelly, and Cúchulainn, to save the day. Let me just doff my cap. Top of the morning to you, lads. A typical old day in the Emerald Isle™, amn’t I right?
Featured illustration by Aisling O’ Reilly.