Leprechauns and legends: St. Patrick’s Day more than gold and green

Little green leprechauns are everywhere on St. Patrick’s Day, but where did the legend come from?

For quite a long time some Irish have been annoyed by these leprechauns and the stereotypes they show because for most Americans these green, gold hoarding creatures appear only on St. Patrick’s Day, according to Benjamin Radford of live science.

(Photo by Kelsey Garrett)

(Photo by Kelsey Garrett)

According to youirish.com, leprechauns are small enough to comfortably sit on shoulders, wear green suits with buckled shoes and may be wearing a pointed hat or smoking a pipe.

According to Irish folklore, leprechauns, also known as the wee folk, are the cousin of the clurichaun, who lived in Ireland before the Celts arrived there, also according to youirish.com.

Encyclopedia Mythica said clurichauns can live for hundreds of years and are commonly known as drunkards. They also enjoy causing chaos around Ireland at night. People see clurichauns riding on dogs or sheep in the moonlight.

Leprechauns, though mistaken for drunken clurichauns, do favor alcohol, but not to the extent of clurichauns.

According to Encylcopedia Mythica, leprechauns are known to haunt cellars and live in caves that are masked as rabbit holes. These holes can be found in the hollow trunk of a fairy tree protected by magic. If a human damages the tree, one lifetime of bad luck will follow.

Curiously, they have always been male and alone.

Commonly known by most people, they do have a pot of gold, but it is hidden in the Irish countryside and not at the end of a rainbow.

The leprechaun has been given the ability to evade capture, courtesy of the Irish fairies. Such magic would be disappearing upon looking away and granting three wishes to escape.

These creatures may look cute or friendly in store windows, but they can be lustful and nasty, liking humans one day and killing them the next when they are displeased, according to Radford.

According to youirish.com, they are generally harmless if left alone, but they may play a trick on local people every once in a while.

Leprechauns themselves are a fable warning of greed, stealing and interfering with the fairies who wish to be left alone. Irish children have been told about this creature for generations, thus it is known today, according to Radford.

These creatures of fable also enjoy music and play traditional Irish instruments such as the fiddle, tin whistles and the Irish harp. They enjoy wild music sessions, otherwise known as Ceili where they gather to dance, sing and drink, according to youirish.com.


Cathy Weyand is a Staff Writer for The Aviso


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