Happy Saint Patrick’s Day!
Several of our members here at Association of Paranormal Study are very interested in Irish folklore, so we thought we’d discuss the legend of the Leprechaun today!
According to Irish fables, the Leprechaun is a tiny entity that normally takes the form of a miniature version of an old man wearing either a red or green coat. They are known to be mischievous creatures that like to cobble shoes and store gold coins in pots of gold hidden at the end of rainbows. If you capture a Leprechaun, he must grant you three wishes, with the deal that he will be let go after they are granted. The centuries-old legend makes no mention of female leprechauns, so it’s safe to deduct that they are always men.
The legend of the Leprechaun can actually be pinpointed to an 8th century old wives tale of a water spirit. They were known as ‘luchorpán’ and in English, translates to “small body”. The story goes that these water spirits would merge with a household fairy to create the luchorpán’, a fairy with a love for heavy drinking. A wife would use this legend to explain away alcohol that had gone missing from the house’s cellar. My guess is the husband came up with this explanation after a night of drinking and it caught on!
The most persisting piece of the legend of the leprechaun though is the coveted Pot of Gold. The story says that the Leprechauns find gold coins dropped and forgotten on the ground and store them in metal pots that are hidden at the end of rainbows. Why a leprechaun wouldn’t want to hide it in a spot that doesn’t have an arrow pointing right at the hiding spot, I’m not sure.
Of course, the Leprechaun is much more a pop-culture phenomenon these days then a creature people are looking for. You can find this mythical creature on cereal, as the mascot of a major college football team and of course in a series of films. However, a firsthand account of encountering this Irish being is as recent as 1989. A Pub landlord, P.J. O’Hare, was in Carlingford in County Louth when he heard screams from a well. He found in there what he believes were the remains and clothing of a leprechaun and has them on display in his pub for all to see. The town now has an annual Leprechaun hunt!
It’s easy to scoff at the legend that’s well over a thousand years because it has become much more of a cartoon character, but believe it or not, the Leprechaun is a protected species under EU law. And Carlingford has a designated area that is official protected land for the reported 236 Leprechauns that live in Ireland today! I hope those little guys are having a wonderful St. Patrick’s Day today!