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Leprechauns & Irish Mythology

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Sarah Wegner

on 18 March 2014

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Transcript of Leprechauns & Irish Mythology

6 Fun Facts about Leprechauns
Areas to Be Discussed
Etymology of the Leprechaun
Although the leprechaun has been described as Ireland's national fairy, this name was originally only used in the north Leinster area. The ancient origins of what we know today as the leprechaun was a Euro-Cletic god named Lugh (pronounced "Luck").
Folklore of the Leprechaun
Irish fairies fall into two main groups: sociable and solitary. Perhaps the best known of the solitary fairies are the leprechauns. Leprechauns have the distinction of being the most solitary of the solitaries, avoiding contact with humans, other fairies, and even other leprechauns.
Influence on Pop Culture
From marshmallows to movies, Leprechauns have stayed a prominent Irish character well into the 21st century.
Leprechauns & Irish Mythology
The earliest known reference to the leprechaun appears in the medieval tale known as the Echtra Fergus mac Léti. The text contains an episode in which Fergus mac Léti, King of Ulster, falls asleep on the beach and wakes to find himself being dragged into the sea by three lúchorpáin. He captures his abductors, who grant him three wishes in exchange for release.
Leprechauns and their Appearance
The leprechaun had a different appearance depending on where in Ireland he was found.
According to Yeats, the solitary fairies, like the leprechaun, wear red jackets, whereas the "trooping fairies" wear green.
Old Irish
Old Irish

Old Irish
In literal translation

"one of little weight."

Another way to say
"one of little weight"


Early 17th Century
Commonly spelled


in 17c. English.


is Irish folk etymology, from


brog "brogue,"

because the spirit was
"supposed to be always employed in making or mending a single shoe."
Variants include lurachmain, lurican, lurgadhan.
Lugh, the God of the Sun, became a symbol of luck and prosperity. The pot of gold a leprechaun hides is symbolic of one of Lugh's four treasures.
According to legend, If caught by a mortal, he will promise great wealth if allowed to go free.
These two-foot tall, unfriendly, gruff men (there are no female leprechauns) prefer to pass their time making shoes for other fairies. They usually wear a green coat, a green hat, and a shoemaker's apron.
He carries two leather pouches. In one there is a silver shilling, a magical coin that returns to the purse each time it is paid out. In the other he carries a gold coin which he uses to try and bribe his way out of difficult situations.
This coin usually turns to leaves or ashes once the leprechaun has parted with it. However, you must never take your eye off him, for he can vanish in an instant.
Leprechauns are said to store away all the coins they have in a hidden pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.
1. According to the book "The Element Encyclopedia of Magical Creatures," by John and Caitlin Matthews, the leprechaun legend can be traced back to eighth-century tales of water spirits called "luchorpán," meaning small body. The legend eventually evolved into a mischievous household fairy said to haunt cellars and drink heavily.

2. Like most fairies, leprechauns have a distinctive sound associated with them. While the Irish banshee can be identified by a mournful wail, leprechauns are recognized by the tap-tap-tapping of a tiny cobbler hammer, driving nails into shoes, that announces they are near.

3. Leprechauns are always male. In the 1825 book "Fairy Legends" noted that "Leprechauns seem to be entirely male and solitary. They are often described as bearded old men dressed in green and wearing buckled shoes. Sometimes they wear a pointed cap or hat and may smoke a pipe.

4. In his collection of Irish fairy and folk tales, W.B. Yeats offered an 18th-century poem by William Allingham titled "The Lepracaun; Or, Fairy Shoemaker." It describes the tapping sound of the sprite:

"Lay your ear close to the hill.
Do you not catch the tiny clamour,
Busy click of an elfin hammer,
Voice of the Lepracaun singing shrill
As he merrily plies his trade?"
5. One of the most recognizable leprechauns in popular culture is Lucky the Leprechaun, the mascot of the General Mills breakfast cereal Lucky Charms. On the other end of the pop culture spectrum, you have the homicidal Lubdan from the "Leprechaun" horror/comedy film series.
6. Leprechauns are a morality tale figure. The legend warns against greed and the folly of trying to get rich quick.

1. Lucky the Leprechaun
2. Warwick Davis, The Leprechaun
3. Brian Conners of Knocknasheega, King of the Leprechauns
4. The Notre Dame Fighting Irish Leprechaun
5. Hornswoggle
Top 5 Well Known Leprechauns
Lucky The Leprechaun
Warwick Davis
Brian Connors
Notre Dame Fighting Irish Mascot
WWE's Hornswoggle
“He stands ‘bout three feet high, and is dressed in a little red jacket or roundabout, with red breeches buckled at the knee, gray or black stockings, and a hat, cocked in the style of a century ago, over a little, old, withered face. Round his neck is an Elizabethan ruff, and frills of lace are at his wrists. On the wild west coast, where the Atlantic winds bring almost constant rains, he dispenses with ruff and frills and wears a frieze overcoat over his pretty red suit, so that, unless on the lookout for the cocked hat, ye might pass a Leprechaun on the road and never know it's himself that's in it at all."
- McAnally
Prior to the 20th century, it was generally held that the leprechaun wore red, not green.
The modern image of the leprechaun sitting on a toadstool, red beard, green hat, etc., are clearly inventions or borrowed from European folklore.
The leprechaun is said to be older in appearance, male, bearded, with a pipe to smoke and complete with a four leaf clover for good luck.
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