The legend of the Irish Leprechaun is a well-known one: little wee well-dressed men, often angry or drunk (or both) with a certain fondness for gold.
Classed by some as a type of solitary fairy, they are usually depicted as little bearded men, wearing a coat and hat, who partake in mischief.
Traditionally these fair folk are rumoured to keep their treasures at the end of a rainbow, but what is the real story behind these little moody little men and their hordes of treasure?
Apparently, the 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.
In any case Leprechauns are, by trade, shoemakers. Some researchers claim that the word leprechaun came from the Irish ‘leath bhrogan,’ meaning shoemaker, said to be the sprites’ main vocation.
And their number one customers are the fairies. Fairies love to dance and will frequently dance the night away wearing and ruining their tiny fairy shoes. When this happens, the leprechauns are kept happy and busy, paid by the fairies for their trade. But sometimes there aren’t fairy dances, so there are no fairy shoes to be mended. It is during times like these that the leprechauns will venture into the human world in search of work.
When this happens, a leprechaun will knock on a human’s door begging for work in the hopes that you have shoes in need of mending. If you do, the leprechaun will happily take them away to be fixed and return them, as good as new, when he is done. In exchange for his services he will be paid a gold or silver coin, which he would take to hide away at the end of the rainbow with the rest of his treasure.
All ok…but what if you don’t have any shoes to be repaired?
Leprechauns don’t take well to not getting what they want, so if you were to say no when one came knocking, he would curse you.
The most frequent curses involve spoiled milk, or cursing your child so that he or she can only speak backwards. But whatever the curse, it’s never a pleasant one, so it is best to always have a shoe in need of mending, just in case a leprechaun comes knocking your door!
Now, with all the work done for the fairies, and when needed, also for the humans (especially considering that the humans always had to be in need of some help, unless they wanted to be cursed) you can imagine that these little leprechauns have quite a large stash of gold at the ends of their respective rainbows.
Gold that, for many humans, is a very tempting treasure.
However, the leprechaun’s gold is too well hidden for a human to find on his own. For that you would need the help of the leprechaun himself, but first you need to catch him.
Catching a leprechaun is a tricky business. You need to be able to get him, and keep him. But being so small and quick, leprechauns can easily escape, something you cannot let happen unless you wish to be cursed.
If you happen to come across a leprechaun, be sure to hold on to him. According to Irish legends, people lucky enough to capture a leprechaun can barter his freedom for three wishes.
But dealing with a leprechaun can be a tricky proposition.
And just don’t be surprised when he shows up at your door looking for work in an effort to get his gold back…
Images from web – Google Research