Arts > Elf ’n’ safety

29 September 2016 | by D.J. Taylor

Elf ’n’ safety


The writer Ian Sansom began his quest for what the BBC website rather coyly termed “diminutive supernatural beings” on the southern bank of Carlingford Lough on the Eire side of the Irish border. Here, after signing up for a bona fide leprechaun hunt with several hundred other enthusiasts (“It’s up to you to find the wee men”), our intrepid presenter descended to a specially constructed concrete bunker – wishing well and fairy tunnel included – for a sit-down with Kevin Woods, Ireland’s last leprechaun whisperer.

The Carlingford locale and its notional inhabitants are protected by a recent European Union Habitat Directive. So was Sansom’s next port of call, a light-industrial site on the outskirts of Reykjavik that housed an Icelandic elf school. If the activities of Magnus, its engaging principal, were limited to tutoring the establishment’s solitary pupil (an inquisitive Scottish girl) then he was able to direct us to a genuine elf habitation – the address is 122 Elf Hill Road – and also to itemise the 13 different species currently at large in the vicinity.


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