Happy St. Patrick Day
It’s that time of year again, the time when people start drinking green beer, wearing green clothes, and loving all things Irish, the time when leprechauns come to the forefront of our thoughts. Leprechauns are the wee men folk of the fairy world. A lot of superstition and stereotyping happens around leprechauns. And though we know of them, very well (I mean, everyone knows what a leprechaun is!), there simply are not very many stories about leprechauns. Sure, there are lots of modern stories, particularly children’s stories, but not a whole lot in the realm of folklore. Generally, the leprechaun is mentioned in a story but doesn’t have an entire fairy tale or story about him.
The origins of leprechauns are very strange. Leprechauns are usually considered to be a small earth dwelling fairy. They originated, most people think, in Ireland. They were called Cluricaunes, luricanes, lurikeens, and lubberkins. They were not called leprechauns until late seventeenth century. Historians believe that their name came from the Irish words leath bhrogan pronounced (la-‘vro-gahn) meaning shoemaker or Luacharma’n pronounced (‘looh-ar-mahn) meaning small body (Mortensen 9-10). Leprechauns aren’t the only ones with strange beginnings, however. Fairies also have some strange origins. Origins of fairies are hard to trace due to many early accounts of them. The Greek poet Homer wrote about Sirens and Nymphs in his epic poems.
According to lore, if one should catch a leprechaun, the leprechaun must give his treasure to whomever caught him, but to keep the leprechaun in your possession, you have to keep an eye on him. If you look away for one second, they escape (Mortensen 14-15). The characteristics of leprechauns are pretty well known due to being the centers of Saint Patrick’s Day.
With spring rains approaching, keep an eye out for rainbows. This and the sound of a cobbler’s hammer will give away the location of a leprechaun, and where there’s a leprechaun there is sure to be leprechaun’s gold.