Sliabh Foy Loop Trail – Carlingford, Ireland - Atlas Obscura

Sliabh Foy Loop Trail

Carlingford, Ireland

The home of Ireland's last leprechauns is officially protected by the European Union. 


There’s something magical hiding within the caves and tunnels of this Irish mountain. According to local lore, it’s home to Ireland’s last leprechauns.

In 2010, Carlingford, Ireland earned official European Union recognition for its leprechauns. The Sliabh Foy Loop Trail became a sanctuary for the country’s remaining leprechauns—236 in total—and nearby Slieve Foye Mountain gained protection under the European Habitats Directive, which protects flora, fauna, and apparently, magical fairies.

It’s easy to see why leprechauns would choose this mountain as their home, as it is spellbindingly beautiful. The Sliabh Foy Loop Trail begins in Carlingford, then winds its way toward the protected reserve. Even if you don’t spot any leprechauns lurking within the mountain’s crags and crannies, the walk is still worth it. You’ll pass through splendid Irish scenery, and likely meet a few sheep along the way.

Carlingford itself has a unique history with the magical creatures. In the 1980s, local businessman PJ O’Hare discovered a tiny hat, jacket, and trousers with gold coins in its pockets lying near a patch of burned earth. This prompted the start of the annual Carlingford National Leprechaun Hunt, an event where locals scour the mountain in search of the elusive creatures.

Know Before You Go

To hike, be prepared with proper hiking boots and rain gear. You can park near the tourist office in nearby Carlingford.

The trail is about 5.5 miles (nine kilometers) and takes an average of 2.5 hours to complete. Overall, there's an 885-foot (270-meter) climb. The first incline is the steepest; the remaining are more gentle.

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