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Leprechauns - An Irish Legend

When people think of the Irish they often associate us with Guinness, wolly jumpers, green landscapes, the Claddagh ring, pirate queens, fairies, leprechauns, Irish dancing, sing songs and of course, lets not forget our ability to have 'the craic'. Yes, it is true, we know how to have a good time and you need a wolly jumper if you are going to the pub for a pint of Guinness because its usually raining here! The mythical creatures of Ireland has fascinated people all over the world but where did the Legend come from?

What do they look like?

Legend illustrates a small dwarf sized human/fairy man dressed in green with curled shoes and a tall green hat. They all have red beards and red hair and a big black buckle. They wear white tights and green 3/4 length trousers. These Leprechauns are named trooper fairies. There are another lesser known type of Leprechaun known as the solidarity fairy and they wear red jackets, trousers and slouchy round hats.

What do they do?

According to the tale, the Leprechauns are a type of fairy. When they are not making shoes in hiding, they are playing practical jokes on each other and people. They love shoes, buckles but most of all they love gold. They are sly and mischievous and have the ability to appear to humans as been an old man – so next time you pass an old man in Ireland it might be a leprechaun that's in it. Their main goal is to steal as much gold as possible, which they bury at the end of the rainbow. If you manage to catch a Leprechaun they will have to grant you three wishes in order to be released but not before they try to trick you into letting them go or before they try to escape themselves. Leprechauns are constantly moving their gold in order that it be kept safe from any thief. If you capture a leprechaun moving his pot of gold he must hand it over to you to keep. Old tales describe them as sons of evil spirits or corrupt fairies who are not good but not exactly evil either. They live in isolation of the world and live deep under the ground. They love some Irish poitin, a good Irish dance off and traditional Irish music- they are often shown in movies drunk, singing and dancing to the harp, tin whistle and the fiddle. They can live for hundreds of years and rarely go out in public.

Medieval Tales

The first story of a Leprechaun is available in the story 'Adventure of Fergus son of Leti'. The story illustrates an Ulster king who falls asleep and is awoken as he is dragged into the sea by three leprechauns. He captures them and they grant him three wishes and they are released. Many movies have come out over the years that feature leprechauns but the most loved film with leprechauns is 'Darby O' Gill & The Little People'. Throughout the years, leprechauns have been a part of the culture and continue to be a fun expression of the Irish abroad.

Fun facts:
  • The Simpsons, Family Guy & South Park all featured episodes with Leprechauns.
  • The Irish legend of Leprechauns never shows them to be murderous – unlike the Hollywood movies which portray them as been killers.
  • Characters on TV shows from abroad often speak in Irish accent when playing an Irish character. Oftentimes, the character makes the mistake of using the lingo of the leprechaun such as 'Top of da morning to ya' – Irish people do not speak like this and we cringe every time an Irish character speaks like this with this accent. Irish accents should always be based on the characters origin eg. Cork, Dublin, Galway or Belfast. Each vastly different from the other.