Darby O’Gill and the Little People: A Classic Tale of Irish Folklore

Darby O'Gill and the Little People

Darby O’Gill and the Little People is a classic Disney movie released in 1959, based on Irish folklore. It is a live-action film that tells the story of an old Irishman named Darby O’Gill, who encounters a group of leprechauns and the king of the fairies. The movie is a mix of comedy, drama, and fantasy, making it a perfect family film.

The Plot: An Encounter with the Fairies

Darby O’Gill, a quick-witted old man, is the caretaker of Lord Fitzpatrick’s estate in Ireland. He is known for his stories about the fairies, but nobody believes him until he encounters the king of the fairies himself. Darby is taken to the underground kingdom of the fairies, where he tries to outsmart the king and make three wishes. However, the king has his own plans for Darby, which involve the king’s daughter, Katie.

The Characters: Darby, Katie, and the Leprechauns

The movie’s main character is Darby O’Gill, played by Albert Sharpe. Darby is a lovable old man who has a way with words and loves to tell stories. He is a widower with a daughter, Katie, played by Janet Munro, who is in love with a young man named Michael McBride, played by Sean Connery. The leprechauns, led by King Brian Connors, played by Jimmy O’Dea, are mischievous little creatures who live in the hills of Ireland and guard their pots of gold.

The Music: Irish Folk Songs and Dance

The movie’s soundtrack features traditional Irish folk songs, such as “The Wearing of the Green” and “Pretty Irish Girl.” The music is lively and sets the mood for the movie’s various scenes, including the famous “Begorrah” dance sequence, in which Darby and King Brian dance a jig while the leprechauns play music. The music and dance in the movie are an essential part of its charm and have helped to make it a classic.

The Special Effects: Magic and Illusion

Darby O’Gill and the Little People was made in an era when special effects were limited. However, the movie’s director, Robert Stevenson, managed to create a sense of magic and illusion through clever camera tricks and optical effects. For example, scenes featuring the leprechauns were shot with forced perspective, making the actors appear smaller than they actually were. The movie’s most famous special effect is the banshee, a ghostly figure who appears to warn of impending death. The banshee was created using a combination of lighting effects and a wind machine, and the result is a truly spooky scene.

The Legacy: A Timeless Classic

Darby O’Gill and the Little People has become a timeless classic, loved by generations of viewers. The movie’s charming characters, lively music, and magical effects have helped to make it a beloved family film. It has also inspired other works of art, such as the popular Disneyland ride, “Darby O’Gill and the Little People,” and the novel, “The Last Leprechaun” by James Stephens.

Last updated April 12, 2023.

About the Author

Dave Donnelly
Meet Dave Donnelly, a passionate Irishman with an insatiable love for music, TV, fishing, and exploring the stunning countryside of Ireland. A native of the Emerald Isle, Dave has an inherent appreciation for the rich cultural traditions and natural beauty of his homeland.