Folklore surrounding the Irish leprechaun has survived hundreds of years, stories of the wee folk passed down each generation and today they’re closely associated with Ireland because they can’t be found anywhere else.
Growing up in Ireland children are usually taught the local folklore stories of Leprechauns from a very early age. It’s these stories that keep the legend of the Leprechuan alive.
What is a Leprechaun?
Leprechauns in Ireland are part of Irish mythology and folklore on our faerie folk. Leprechauns are also known as the wee folk and stand approximately 2-3 foot tall. They are devious characters, quick witted, and will do anything to evade capture from humans.
Small enough for one to sit comfortable on your shoulder they are very smartly dressed in small suites with waist coats, hats and buckled shoes.
As a cousin of the clurichaun they are known to inhabited Ireland well before the arrival of the Celts and give live for hundreds of years.
Who Are The Leprechauns of Ireland?
As mischievous and intelligent folk they are general harmless to the general population in Ireland, although they are known to play the odd trick on farmers and local population of villages and towns.
It is said that every Leprechaun has a pot of gold, hidden deep in the Irish countryside. To protect the leprechaun’s pot of gold the Irish fairies gave them magical powers to use if ever captured by a human or an animal. Such magic an Irish leprechaun would perform to escape capture would be to grant three wishes or to vanish into thin air!
Where do Leprechauns live?
Deep in the Irish countryside Leprechauns are deeply burrowed underground in a large network of caves. It’s the only safe place, too small for humans, and hidden from any dangers found above the ground. The entrance of caves can be found masked as rabbit holes are can be found in a hallow trunk of a fairy tree. The faerie trees are protected by magic and if any human damages one a life time of bad luck will occur.
Leprechauns and their love for music
Leprechauns are very keen musicians who play tin whistles, the fiddle and even the Irish Harp and various other Irish traditional instruments. They are known to have wild music sessions at night which in Ireland are known as Ceili’s with hundreds of Irish leprechauns gathering to dance, sing and drink.
The shoemaker Leprechaun
In the Irish Faerie realm Leprechauns are known to be the only Faerie that has a trade, which is shoemaking. William Butler Yeats once said
Because of their love of dancing they (the Fae) will constantly need shoes
Yeats goes on to tell the story of a woman who had been spirited away by the Faeries and had been returned seven years later minus her toes. She had danced them off!
You’ll hear a Leprechaun before you’ll ever see one. If you’re ever out in the rural country side and hear a tap, tap, tap, its usually the sound of them hammering nails into the soles of a shoe.
The drunken Leprechaun
There is a misconception that Leprechauns are drunkards however, they do have a fondness of drinking Irish Poitín. It would be unfair to mistake them for their Irish cousins the cluricauns, a drunken creature who loves to cause chaos around Ireland at night time.
Catching a Leprechaun
To catch a Leprechaun is no easy task. They’re quick, smart, and have magically powers to vanish into thin-air but they can be caught.
Its believed that if you’re lucky enough to catch a leprechaun he’ll grant you 3 wishes to be released but be careful, making the wrong wish could results in a life time of bad luck.
People do tell stories of their experiences in catching a Leprechuan and getting their 3 wishes granted. Be cautious of such claims as people tend to tell fibs about Leprechauns. See our guide on how to catch a Leprechaun.
Leprechauns in the movies
Without a doubt Darby O’Gill and the little people is the best movie with Leprechauns. Starring Sean Connery, Janet Munro, and Albert Sharpe, it’s a movie full of folklore, songs, and dancing.
If you’ve never seen Darby O’Gill and the little people it’s highly recommended to get a hold of this and give it a watch.