Why the leprechauns left Martha's Vineyard
Being a reporter, people expect me to be in the know. Some come to me for answers, when they hear question-provoking tales through the Martha's Vineyard grapevine. They want help separating fact from fiction.
Some stories never go away. Once again, as St. Patrick's Day approaches, people ask, What happened to the leprechauns on Martha's Vineyard? I warn them it is a tale I am reluctant to tell.
But, on a day with a rainbow in the sky, if you coax me with a pint of Guinness, I might be persuaded. I promised the leprechauns I would never reveal my sources, but even if I did, you would never find them.
When I first met them, the leprechauns referred to themselves as the "wee folk." "None of that 'vertically-challenged,' politically correct stuff," one said. "We were called the wee folk long before St. Patrick drove the snakes out of Ireland, and we're not changing now."
Although solitary by nature, leprechauns will endure each other's company if there is pint to drink. In fact, that is what got the Martha's Vineyard group into trouble.
After celebrating their win at darts in a New Bedford bar one night, the group of seven impulsively decided to jump aboard a New England Fast Ferry to relocate to another "emerald isle," Martha's Vineyard.
The next morning, having escaped notice on the Island as only two-foot tall magical beings can do, the leprechauns went in search of faeries. (No snickering, please.) Faeries work magic during the day, and then cut loose at night with some serious dancing in "fairy raths," sacred circles of trees. In the early morning hours, faeries give their worn-out dancing slippers to the leprechauns for repair, a co-dependent relationship that has worked well for centuries.
Notoriously poor money managers, faeries also rely on leprechauns to protect their treasure by hiding it in pots of gold at the end of rainbows. (They tried the market one year - never mention the name "Enron" around them.)
Leprechauns can be trusted, as they have no need of anyone else's money. They each carry two gold coins, one that magically replenishes itself, and another that turns into a rock after they give it away.
The leprechauns rode all over the Island via Vineyard Transit Authority buses searching for potential winged clients, but to no avail. After reading The Times Calendar section, they hung around The Yard and the Katharine Cornell Theatre where they thought the tiny dancers might gather.
Sadly, they had no way of knowing the faeries had left the Island for Nevada only the week before, lured by the slogan, "What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas."
Realizing their conspicuousness as a non-indigenous species, the leprechauns decided to make themselves known to the proper authorities, the Martha's Vineyard Tribunal (MVT).
Distrustful of humans by nature, the grumpy little men got right to the point in their "pre-application" meeting with the MVT. "We would like to run a home-based business in the woods," they declared. The tribunal members gasped.
Unfortunately, the leprechauns just happened to pick a location in a District of Cobbler Planning Concern (DCPC). Their proposal would have to undergo review as a development of re-shoeing impact (DRI). Delighted at the prospect of imposing new conditions, the MVT spent two hours deciding to form a new committee, the Leprechaun Utilization Planning Committee (LUPC).
After another two hours of debate, they created a site selection subcommittee, as well. Handing the leprechauns a DRI checklist, the tribunal's members began arguing over what shade of green they would allow for housing.
Taking their eyes off the leprechauns was a mistake, because when cornered by humans or just plain annoyed by them, they vanish. Project applicants at MVT hearings ever since have prayed they could do the same.
Fleeing through the MVT parking lot, one of the leprechauns, dizzy from reading the DRI checklist, collided head-on with a low-level, moth-protective light. The group carried their unconscious friend to a bar in Oak Bluffs, reviving him with Guinness compresses. Questioned about the leprechaun sighting later, several patrons said they thought they had been seeing the leprechauns there for years.
The group soon became regulars in Oak Bluffs and Edgartown bars. They avoided the dry towns, where they found it exhausting as wee folk to cope with the "bring your own bottle" rule.
As their reputation grew, unfortunately they caught the attention of the Dukes of County Bounty. The leprechauns called me one night, flattered but somewhat puzzled to find themselves appointed by the Dukes to the airport committee, without even attending a meeting.
I warned them it could be a trap. Attending what they thought was their first meeting, the leprechauns found themselves trapped in a room with the Dukes.
They quickly surmised it was a thinly disguised shakedown for gold coins to pay the Dukes' legal bills. One of the leprechauns yelled, "Rat!" and the wee folk vanished in the midst of chaos, leaving a pile of rocks behind.
We met for an Irish coffee afterwards, and they asked for my advice. It has been a long time between pots of gold, I told them. You can't find housing and have no livelihood. You bicker ceaselessly and don't really enjoy each other's company anyway. It is time for you to head back to America.
They offered me gold coins or wishes to repay my honesty. I told them I could not accept either, but a nice letter to the editor about me would do.
I took them to Vineyard Haven the next morning to catch a ferry off-Island. Bidding me farewell, they ran on board the boat and jumped into an empty horse trailer.
Puzzled at their choice of vehicle, I squinted to read the license plate and realized what attracted them: "Live free or die." I never had the chance to warn them about New Hampshire's hefty sales tax on shoe repair tools. Before the boat doors banged shut, I caught a glimpse of a tiny fist coming from between the trailer slats and heard a shrill, high-pitched voice yell, "May ye be cursed with the two-bridge solution!"
As sure as my great-grandmother Bridget Duffy's Irish blood flows through my veins, this story is true.