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Photo of Timothy McGowan, taken November 28, 2010, by Daniel McGowanTimothy J. McGowan
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McGowan Family Leprechaun Blarney version
Seamus, the McGowan family leprechaun, was first glimpsed dancing a jig in a clover patch on a small farm in southern Minnesota. Bridget, the oldest girl in the family, drew an expert likeness of him, and he's been frequently seen there ever since.

Like many of the Irish, his age is tough to determine. We do know that Seamus adopted the McGowans in the mid '70s, becoming more visible by turns. Speculation abounds regarding his shenanigans ere his discovery on these shores.

Seamus took up residence on the barn, soon assuming the day job of directing traffic to the family raspberry patch. On weekends he would often be found hawking sweet clover honey. Realizing Seamus was overworked, his best mate insisted on accompanying him on the home-brew promotion tour. Nowadays, if you watch closely, you might catch sight of him kicking up his heels at revelries around Mankato, Minnesota.

Seamus has imprinted so deeply upon the family that most of the boys raised under his charms now bear his likeness as an artificial birthmark. His favorite colors are honey gold and raspberry red -- but he'll not say nay to a black-and-tan!

A wee point of protocol: Please refer to Seamus and his kind as leprechauns or wee folk; call him a midget, and you might get a shillelagh upside the -- well, upside the knee, I guess.

Seamus still keeps his pot of gold well hidden, but he's very generous with a laugh and a helping hand. If you meet him, be sure to say hi, and bear in mind that his name is pronounced shay-muss, not see-muss.

Prosaic version
If that was a tad too twee for you, I understand. Let's put this in a context that "Sorry, Virginia; there is no Santa" types of adults can accept, shall we?

Sometime in -- oh, heck, now, when was that? It was between my fifth and sixth grades in school, and I graduated in '81. You do the math. It was in the early mid '70s, obviously.

So anyway, in the early mid '70s the McGowan family, consisting at that time of Mom, Dad, and the first six kids, moved to a very small farm outside of Mankato, Minnesota. Here's the spot. (Sorry about the weird camera angle. I did NOT take the picture.)

With a lot of kids and no television in the house, the folks needed to keep us busy. While the solution was obvious to us (buy a TV already!), Mom and Dad -- well, let's be fair: It's all Dad. As ever it was, so shall it ever be Dad. Dad decided we should start a raspberry farm. The logo for the farm was a leprechaun that Bridget drew, and he was painted on the barn door and the sign out on Highway 33 directing people to the end of that long, windy gravel road. Folks would come out and pick their own raspberries, and Seamus watched over it all.

Dad and my brother Daniel started keeping bees, and Seamus appeared on the jar labels. Mom took up beer brewing, and the logo on the bottles included Seamus and his mate Mike sitting at a keg. Somewhere in all that activity, Patrick and Michael were born, and the house got a bit more crowded.

Dad, with the help of the younger boys, built a voyageur-style canoe, big enough to hold the whole family and a few more as well. Seamus appeared on the sail that was added. He can be seen occasionally all over Mankato; Dad brings that sail out a lot, and not just for sailing. You'll also know it's Dad's van by the sticker of Seamus in the back window.

Oh, and the artificial birthmarks? Tattoos. Michael, the youngest, started it all, and Patrick, I, and Christopher played copycat. (Nowhere naughty; ask to see the back of my left calf.) Thought for sure we'd get Shannon to jump in too, but she hasn't -- well, not yet anyway...

There's lots more, I'm sure, that I'm missing, but at least you've gotten the highlights of this active leprechaun's life in Mankato. Many, many thanks to my sister Caroline who helped so much with all this blather!

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