The Leprechaun

Leprechaun-lucky-symbol

Photo from Goodluck Symbols

What is a Leprechaun?

According to Wikipedia, a Leprechaun is “a type of fairy in Irish folklore. They are usually depicted as little bearded men, wearing a coat and hat, who partake in mischief.” (Wikipedia)

Origins

Leprechaun’s are a type of fairy in Irish folklore. Leprechauns are believed to be wise, bearded men. It is important to note that not all fairies in folklore are like those depicted in the movies. Some are known to be nasty and cruel creatures.

Leprechauns have been traced back to the 18th century. There was folklore then about ‘luchorpan,’ which means small body. These beings were said to have haunted cellars and drank heavily.  Some believe that the word ‘Leprechaun’ came from Irish ‘leath bhrogan,’ which means shoemaker. Although they are often associated with rainbows and gold, the traditional leprechaun’s stories are often far from. They were considered “humble cobblers or shoemakers.”

“According to Irish legends, people lucky enough to find a leprechaun and capture him can barter his freedom for his treasure.” – Live Science

Leprechauns are also said to be able to grant wishes. Dealing with these creatures is tricky business, though. The folklore says they are often tricksters. One role of the Leprechaun is to be a trickster, who is full of deceit and cannot be trusted. (Live Science)

leprechaun

Photo from Dark Emerald Tales

There is an old tale about a man who captured a Leprechaun. He wanted the Leprechaun to show him where he put his treasure and in return he would set the creature free. The Leprechaun brought the man to a particular tree in a field. The man did not have a shovel at the time so he marked the spot with one of his red garters. Then he released the fairy and happily went to look for a shovel. After coming back soon after he had let the fairy go, he found a bunch of trees in the field, all with red garters.  This is just one story of many stories that shows how tricky Leprechauns can be.

Many creatures in Irish folklore are associated with a certain sound. The Leprechaun’s is a tapping. Supposedly this tapping is the creature’s cobbler hammer, used for driving nails into shoes. This is how they announce that they are present.

Leprechauns seem to be known as male loners. Their type of fairy is so commonly associated with shoemaking so it makes sense because shoemaking was seen traditionally as a masculine vocation.

The mascot for the cereal brand, “Lucky Charms,” is probably the most well-known Leprechaun today. These creatures have been inspirations in literature and in the media as well. The main purpose of this folktale is to show people there are no ‘get rich quick’ schemes, and that you should never steal. (Live Science)

Sightings

One of the most well covered sightings of the Leprechaun was in 2006, in the town of Mobile, Alabama. Some people claimed to have seen a Leprechaun in their neighborhood and a reporter went to do some investigating. These people were very certain they saw the creature in a tree. Someone even said he was holding a flute, that he claimed to have been thousands of years old. While no evidence or proof was ever found, it became a very televised event, being shown on multiple news stations, the internet, and covered in many newspapers and magazines. (Wikipedia)

Another sighting took place in Portland Oregon. The story goes, that a reporter was writing a piece about the creatures and that he spotted one of them digging a hole outside of his window. The reporter captured it so he got to make a wish. He wished that he could get a park of his own, but the Leprechaun tricked him and gave him the hole in the ground. This particular hole in the ground became an official park in 1976. This two-foot space is the center point for all of Portland’s St. Patrick’s Day festivities. (The FW)

Eva-widermann-leprechaun

Photo from Warriors of Myth

There is even a website called Ireland’s Eye, where a live video feed is set up. The webcam is hidden in a field in Tipperary, Ireland where it is believed that many different kinds of Irish fairies dwell.

Leprechauns are an important part of Irish folklore. Their presence in our lives through literature, tv, cereal brands, etc… will always bring us joy and entertainment. Tomorrow is St. Patrick’s Day, so why don’t you go celebrate and share some of these stories with your friends. Hope everyone has a fun and safe holiday weekend!

 

Sources

Live Science

Benjamin Radford

March, 2017

 

The FW

Danny Gallagher

March 2012

 

Wikipedia

December, 2017

 

Wikipedia

October, 2017

 

Ireland’s Eye

 

 

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