Leprechaun (Old Irish for 'small body'), in Irish folklore, is a fairy in the shape of an old
man, sometimes conceived as a cobbler, with a hidden store of gold.Even though there may be
some disagreement on exactly what is a leprechaun, most people beleive that leprechauns act as self-appointed guardians of ancient treasure (left by the Danes when they marauded
through Ireland) by burying it in crocks or pots. This may be one reason why leprechauns tend to avoid contact with humans
whom they regard as foolish, flighty (and greedy?) creatures. If caught by a mortal, he will promise great wealth if allowed
to go free. He carries two leather pouches. In one there is a silver shilling, a magical coin that returns to the purse each
time it is paid out. In the other he carries a gold coin which he uses to try and bribe his way out of difficult situations.
This coin usually turns to leaves or ashes once the leprechaun has parted with it.
So much part of Irish folklore, Leprechauns are said to be very small
sprites who sometimes live in farmhouses or wine cellars. They are known to aid humans and perform small labors for them.
Sometimes they ask humans for supplies and furniture, for which in return they give objects which bring luck and fortune.
are called fairy cobblers, for they make shoes for elves (but always one shoe, never a pair). Supposedly, they are seen quite
often by humans and are described as merry little fellows gaily dressed in old-fashioned clothes; green, with a red cap, leather
apron, and buckled shoes. Full grown leprechauns are reported to be about 2 feet tall. They will frequently be clothed in
the garb of a shoemaker, with a cocked hat and a leather apron. Frequently scowling, leprechauns are said to resemble small,
grumpy old men.
They spend a great deal of their time making shoes. Most importantly, each and every leprechaun possesses
a hidden pot of gold. Stories say that treasure hunters looking for a Leprechaun’s pot of gold should listen for the
sound of a shoemaker's hammer. If caught, the leprechaun must reveal the whereabouts of his pot of gold. But be careful! Keep
your eyes on the tricky leprechaun every second. He will try to trick you into looking away, and if you do...Poof! He vanishes
and all hopes of finding the treasure are lost.
What about the word "leprechaun?"
The name leprechaun
may have derived from the Irish leath bhrogan (shoemaker), although its origins may lie in luacharma'n (Irish for pygmy).
These apparently aged, diminutive men are frequently to be found in an intoxicated state, caused by home-brew poteen. When
they finish their daily tasks, leprechauns like to organize wild feast, during which time they are referred to as cluricauns.
These (often drunk) cluricauns can then be seen riding in moonlight on the back of a dog or a sheep. However they never become
so drunk that the hand which holds the hammer becomes unsteady and their shoemaker's work affected.
The Leprechaun family tree
The leprechaun 'family' appears split into two distinct groups - leprechaun and cluricaun. Cluricauns may steal or
borrow almost anything, creating mayhem in houses during the hours of darkness, raiding wine cellars and larders. They will
also harness sheep, goats, dogs and even domestic fowl and ride them throughout the country at night. Although the leprechaun
has been described as Ireland's national fairy, this name was originally only used in the north Leinster
area. Variants include lurachmain, lurican, and lurgadhan.
And what is a leprechaun in Irish literature?
Leprechauns rarely appear in what would be classed as a folk tale; in almost all cases the
interest of these stories centers round a human hero. Stories about leprechauns are generally very brief and generally have
local names and scenery attached to them. The tales are usually told conversationally as any other occurrence might be told,
whereas there is a certain solemnity about the repetition of a folk-tale proper.
In most tales and stories leprechauns
are depicted as generally harmless creatures who enjoy solitude and live in remote locations, although opinion is divided
as to if they ever enjoy the company of other spirits. Although rarely seen in social situations, leprechauns are supposedly
very well spoken and, if ever spoken to, could make good conversation.
Now that you know all about the lucky Leprechaun,
you might want to familiarize yourself with the four leaf clover and all of the good fortune it may bring you.