I have a fascination with Faerie Lore. Even when I was a little “laddy,” I dug through old tomes to learn as much as I could about magical little people. Whenever I am asked to chat or write on this topic, the magic quickly consumes me.
One group I am often asked about at this time of year centers around leprechauns. They are often described as solitary faerie and have been regaled as helping shoemakers complete jobs while the shoemaker sleeps, aiding in gardening and plant health, even performing simple house chores. The Irish academic Douglas Hyde claimed the word leprechaun comes from Leith Bhrogan, meaning “one-shoemaker.”
The poet William Butler Yeats believed that the leprechaun encompasses multiple kinds of faerie folk including gnomes, elves, trolls and goblins. Academics, scholars and self-proclaimed “paranormal investigators” admit that there are uncanny similarities between these kinds of stories.
As I have written many times, Utah might be home to similar beings, if not literally, then at least by tale. In April of 2019, I took a group of nine people, ten including myself, on one of my “Midnight Faerie Walks” around an area I termed “The Provo Vortex.” One of the main stops on the trail is Lion’s Park, 950 W 1280 N Street in Provo. On the west side of this park is a slanted edge, maybe thirty to forty feet high. Jordan Avenue sits at the top of this redoubt and tall trees fill the area within the space.
Around 1am, the ten of us were walking along the path next to the west edge of the park when we began to hear steps following us on the opposite side of a fence. A friend and I stopped to take a closer look at the area where the noises were coming from. As we were walking, it seemed as if something was mimicking our steps on the other side. It would stop when we stopped and move when we moved. Soon, we began hearing what sounded like sticks being hit against the chain-link fence that separated us. The noises started to spread out and the sound of one stick turned into the sound of five, five turned into ten and so on.
Eventually, our group was listening to this chorus of sticks, but we couldn’t see anything since a lot of plant overgrowth blocked our view. The darkness didn’t help either. Soon the noises rose into the trees, and twigs began to “fall” from the trees at random spots. It seemed that some of the twigs were being aimed at us. Two of them hit me. This went on for some time. By now, the majority of the group had departed from the ruckus that was taking place. It’s easy to say they were pretty freaked out at what was going on. Two of us stayed behind to try and communicate with whatever force that was messing with us. We saw nothing out of the ordinary. We just heard noises that kept acting and reacting to us.
The area beyond the fence where this took place is at a very steep angle. It would have been difficult for a person or persons to be pranking us from that side, so I’m ruling out the human element. The sporadic placement of the noises and the way they quickly rose upward into the trees makes the whole encounter somewhat magical. Maybe we had an encounter with some Utah based “leprechauns?” After all, the wee folk does have a home in Utah’s redrock landscape and they are said to guard a huge pot of gold. To find it, all one has to do is follow a rainbow to Leprechaun Canyon near Hanksville on the 31st of June.
Danny B. Stewart is a Utah based folklorist and performance artist who has devoted his life to all things uncanny.
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