It’s almost St. Patrick’s Day, so I thought it would be nice to explore the creature associated with the holiday: the leprechaun!
What is it?
Leprechauns be small Irish fairies wearing green suits and a green hat with a buckle on it. They have red or white hair and beards. When you think about a stereotypical leprechaun, it’s usually an adult male, but they must have females, right? When you see a rainbow, there’s a myth that a leprechaun will have a pot of gold at the end of it. For shoemakers, leprechauns don’t need to worry about their finances.
Leprechauns have been around since at least the medieval times, with an appearance in the tale Echtra Fergus mac Léti (Adventure of Fergus son of Léti), in which Fergus mac Léti, king of Ulster (a northern province in Ireland), is kidnapped and dragged towards the sea by three lúchorpáins. He manages to capture them and, in exchange for their release, they grant him three wishes.
The three wish thing doesn’t seem to be as popular as getting half their pot of gold if you catch one, although these little guys are associated with luck.
“They’re magically delicious!” Lucky the Leprechaun is the face children, and maybe even some adults, look for on a bright red box filled with sugary cereal and marshmallows in the shape of things that are thought to bring luck or are associated with leprechauns, including horseshoes, pots of gold, four-leaf clovers and shooting stars.
The TV show Charmed has a few episodes starring leprechauns. In “Lucky Charmed,” the leprechauns are being hunted by a demon jealous of their ability to grant luck, and the sisters help defeat him to save their little friends.
There are other leprechaun references in the film and literary world. A series of leprechaun horror comedies from the early 90’s with a malevolent leprechaun who will stoop at nothing to get his gold back. A film called The Magical Legend of Leprechauns (1999) in which a businessman rents a cottage on a magical island and ends up having to play peacemaker when trouble brews between leprechauns and fairies. If you look at Irish mythology and poetry, there’s bound to be more mention of these guys. Like in William Allingham’s The Leprechaun; or Fairy Shoemaker poem that depicts the unique noises they make by making shoes.
For a well-known creature, there don’t seem to be too many good examples of them in film. Maybe because the main story is that you catch a leprechaun and get either three wishes or some of his gold. But what if that weren’t the case? Try these ideas out:
- The story of a leprechaun who doesn’t like gold. What does he want? What are his ambitions in life?
- A leprechaun is so greedy that he collects and hoards all his gold. But then he makes friends with a poor family and learns that there’s more at the end of the rainbow than wealth.
- My best friend, the leprechaun. Imagine you had an Irish friend and found out he had magical leprechaun powers. What would they be? And when someone tries to steal those powers, what will you do to help your leprechaun friend?