Readers like you keep news free for everyone.

More than 5,000 readers have already pitched in to keep free access to The Journal.

For the price of one cup of coffee each week you can help keep paywalls away.

Support us today
Not now
Friday 1 December 2023 Dublin: -1°C
State Papers

This American lady begged the Prime Minister to save the leprechaun

“In our hearts we know they are still there.”

St. Patrick's Day Parade - Pittsburgh AP / Press Association Images AP / Press Association Images / Press Association Images


EVERY YEAR, THE government releases the secret and personal files from the Taoiseach’s department from 30 years earlier.

Amongst the more politically interesting documents, you can usually find a few gems — personal letters, whacky presents and pleas for help.

This letter, from an American lady with Irish heritage, to Jack Lynch in 1978 was a particular favourite here at

Ruth Murney has just returned to her home in Washington DC after her first visit to Ireland. She is exceptionally taken with the island — its “beauty, character and charm”. She’s even decided to take Irish language lessons.

It was to her horror a few weeks later when she found out Ireland was trying to woo industry to its lands.

“I can appreciate all the commendable reasons you may give for bringing industry to the island which would include the necessity for raising the economic standards, the need for checking emigration and keeping families together,” she wrote, but then warned that pollution comes with industry.

“I feel Ireland has fought enough battles without adding pollution to the list,” she argued before adding, “in a lighter vein”.

“Like you, I will deny the existence of leprechauns, but in our hearts we both know they are still there and we don’t want them asphyxiated, now do we, Mr Prime Minister?

She felt compelled to write the letter on reading an article in the Washington Post, entitled Smoggy Mists for Ireland, which looked at the “economic invasion that is radically altering Eamon de Valera’s vision of Ireland as a semi-pastoral society”.

He also discusses the fumes now suppressing the air in Waterford from a nearby plant with its dull thud of noise.

Careful what you wish for, eh? Those leprechauns don’t usually leave those pots of gold.

National Archives Ref 2014/105

Your Voice
Readers Comments
    Submit a report
    Please help us understand how this comment violates our community guidelines.
    Thank you for the feedback
    Your feedback has been sent to our team for review.