Business Irish

Monday 25 September 2017

Leprechaun HQ finds pot of gold

Louise McBride

Louise McBride

IRISH people have been telling stories about the wily leprechaun for more than a thousand years -- yet, it was only just over two years ago that the first leprechaun museum opened in Ireland.

Director Tom O'Rahilly, who had previously run his own business in product design, set up the museum in 2009.

"It became very intriguing to me how leprechauns came to Ireland and why other countries didn't have a similar relationship to the 'other world'," he said.

O'Rahilly got some funding from the Dublin City Enterprise Board, but he raised most of the money himself. The museum on Dublin's Jervis Street opened in March 2010, in the midst of the recession.

"Setting up in the teeth of a fierce gale was a challenge," said O'Rahilly. However, more than 70,000 people have visited it over the last year and the museum had a turnover of about €700,000.

O'Rahilly believes there is a "huge appetite" for folklore: "People get to understand why there are hill forts and fairy rings and why people won't dig up trees in certain areas."

About one in four visitors is Irish, with the rest coming from abroad.

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