• OnTopic Canada

The Mystery of the Vanishing Leprechaun

Updated: Jul 15, 2021

In celebration of St. Patrick's Day

St. Patrick's Day is an annual event which occurs on March 17th . The date is a religious holiday which the Irish have observed for hundreds of years. The date is meant to commemorate the 5th Century anniversary of St. Patrick's death. A patron saint during his living years, St. Patrick is credited with introducing Christianity to the Irish people and is said to have used the Shamrock – a 3 leaf clover – to exemplify the meaning of Trinity.

Though St. Patrick's Day stems from religious origins, North Americans are known to celebrate the event in a more secular manner. Each year on March 17th they traditionally wear green clothing, add green tints to beverages and lightheartedly postulate the existence of Leprechauns.

One creation born from St. Patrick's Day is a graphical illusion called The Vanishing Leprechaun. It is a visual depiction of 15 Leprechauns painted onto paper medium. The picture is split into 3 sections and when two of these sections are swapped around, one of the Leprechauns seems to disappear into thin air. This illusion perpetuates the idea that Leprechauns have magical properties and the puzzle has stymied people for years.

But fret not – there is a simple solution to this mystery. When swapping the 2 pieces of the image, almost every leprechaun in the original image loses a snippet of himself and passes it onto the next man in the lineup. When he gains a new piece after the swap, the replacement part is smaller than the snippet that he'd originally lost during the swap. The extra pieces of the leprechauns are then assembled to form an entirely new man.

To purchase your own copy of The Vanishing Leprechaun on Amazon, click here.


In under 2 minutes, you can create a simplified version of this illusion on your own. Simply draw multiple lines on a piece of paper. They should be drawn vertical and parallel. Then divide the image in half using a diagonal cut across all 13 lines. Next, slide one of the images sideways a notch then recount the numbers of lines you see in the new image. The example here starts with 13 lines and increases to 14 after the shuffle.

If you're looking for something unique and interesting to discuss with your friends, family and co-workers this St. Patrick's Day, consider recreating this illusion for them and see if they can solve the mystery.

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