The deal with leprechauns

Hey Dex, since it’s St. Paddy’s day, what’s the deal with leprechauns?

Now I have it on good authority that Leprechauns actually live in boxes of Lucky Charms.  Apparently, kids are always after them.  But you can believe what you want.  Oh, and St. Patrick’s day – not St. Paddy’s Day – has nothing to do with the Wee Folk.  Unless you’re talking about people who drink too many pints of green beer…

Leprechauns have been a part of Irish Folklore since forever.  The mythology behind leprechauns, also known as the “wee folk” or Little People,  suggests that they came to Ireland on magical flying boats centuries before the Celts.  Descendants of the Tuatha De Danaan, leprechauns were led by Lugh the Long-Armed Warrior, who used a rainbow as a sling weapon.  After defeating the original inhabitants of Ireland, the Fir Blog, Leprechauns kicked it in Ireland doing what leprechauns do: dancing around and hiding their pots o’ gold at the end of rainbows.  They had no fear of other invaders due to their magical force fields.

Then came the Celts, and they had the badass iron swords that could pass through the force fields.  The Celts eventually ran the wee folk out and took over the entire island.  Defeated but not done in, the Little People used their Wee Magic and created magical entrances into the underground.  There is even a well-known magical entrance at Brugh na Boinne in Newgrange.  A side thing here – a nice poem about Brugh na Boinne and its history:

How is it named?
For the river that rises in the bog of Allen
And flows to the sea at Inver Colpa.
Called after Boand, Goddess of the rivers.
Peat dark and slow meandering
Making it’s lazy way through the land.

The Dagda had his house here,
And Angus Og after him,
In the wide bend of the river.
Angus of the generous hospitality,
With inexhaustible ale
And meat and fruit
To feed his many guests.

Lugh of the long arm lies here,
And Slaine, king of the Fir-Bolg,
Buried atop his hill.
Newgrange, Knowth and Dowth,
Look down on the valley.
Resting places of the great
Warriors and Chieftains,

It was here, at Linn Feic,
That the hero Finn McCumhaill
Caught the salmon of knowledge.
Burned his thumb on the hot flesh
And tasted before Finegas the Poet.

Wide green valley, lush with rich grass.
Cattle and sheep shall thrive here.
And fruit trees of all kinds shall flourish.
Fish abound in the stream,
And stags frequent the forest.

You shall not hunger long
In the Valley of the Boinne.

Modern day folklore tells us that Leprechauns are small enough to fit comfortably on your shoulder and always dressed sharply from head to toe.  They love dancing and playing tricks on people.  Their passion for dancing, according to William Butler Yeats, will always keep them in the need of shoes.  Maybe that is why I always think of cobblers when I think of Leprechauns…?  Anyway, if you can catch one, you can take their pot o’ gold, or get three wishes out of the deal (couldn’t I just wish for three pots o’ gold?).  Catching a Leprechaun is no easy task, though – but fear not!  There is a “How To Catch Leprechauns” guide!

some helpful sources: