Towns’ ‘green armies’ prepare for war

Top hats and green waistcoats will be de rigueur in the West Cork town of Bandon and Donegal town of Glenties this St Patrick’s Day, as hundreds of “leprechauns” arrive to break the world record for a gathering of the Little People.

A number of octogenarians and several babies have already signed up to the bid in Bandon, which requires participants to wear a specific uniform of green top hat, beard, green waistcoat or frock coat, black, green or red trousers, and appropriate footwear.

“We’re encouraging people to make big buckles out of tinfoil and to attach these to their shoes,” says Rachel McCarthy, chairwoman of the St Patrick’s Day Parade and one of the organisers of Bandon’s Guinness Book of Records bid.

“We want people of all ages to turn up,” she said.

There had been an avalanche of calls and inquiries since organisers advertised the challenge on the St Patrick’s Day Parade Facebook page and the website, she said.

However, the town is facing stiff competition from the other end of the country.

In Donegal they are hoping leprechauns could bring a crock of gold to recession-hit Glenties.

The town is furiously stitching together hundreds of leprechaun uniforms to capture a world title.

With businesses closing doors regularly, Glenties has recruited a small army of weavers to make 500 uniforms for the world’s biggest gathering of leprechauns. They need more than 414 to claim the record.

People in Glenties originally believed they would only have to outnumber 224 to set a record.

That’s the figure in the online version of the Guinness Book of Records and it was established on St Patrick’s Day last year on the Tonight Show with Jay Leno in California.

Then they discovered RTÉ personality Derek Mooney lined up 262 pixie-hatted leprechauns for his radio show in Dublin last November. He didn’t know it but he was already beaten by Ardee, Co Louth.

Ardee turned out 266 leprechauns last St Patrick’s Day. They only got a certificate from Guinness last week that they held the record — but it only lasted for eight months.

It fell on Nov 11 last year when Cowan House Co-educational Preparatory School in Hilton, KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa, rounded up 414 little people in beards, tight trousers, green and red tailored jackets, cocked hats and buckled shoes.

Guinness World Records international press officer Anne-Lise Rouse said that, sadly, the Jay Leno count was the only record still on the website. She said: “The South African record hasn’t been added to the site yet, but if Glenties want it, they will need to beat 414.”

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