The leprechaun is one of the best known figures of Irish folklore. Leprechauns are a type of fairy, but they are not the innocent kind of fairy found in many tales. Leprechauns are capable of causing all kinds of trouble. They might be a fun companion one moment, but if you displease a leprechaun, watch out!
These mischievous tricksters have their origin in the Middle Ages, when they were clad in red, not the green we associate with them today. Although only the height of a young child, leprechauns are typically bearded old men who wear buckled shoes, large hats and often, a leather apron. They are sometimes seen smoking a pipe. The Boston Celtics basketball team has a leprechaun of this style as its mascot. There are also more modern versions of leprechauns, the most famous of which may be Lucky the Leprechaun, the mascot of General Mills’ Lucky Charms cereal. Leprechauns are also very keen musicians who play tin whistles, the fiddle, the Irish Harp and various other traditional instruments.
In the folklore, leprechauns work as cobblers or shoemakers. It is said that you can tell a leprechaun is near if you hear the tapping of hammers. A leprechaun stores his gold coins in a pot of gold, usually hidden at the end of a rainbow but sometimes buried in the ground. According to legend, if you catch a leprechaun he will lead you to his pot of gold and give you a bribe in exchange for his freedom. In other legends, a leprechaun captured by a human will grant three wishes in exchange for his freedom.
Thinking About Trapping a Leprechaun?
It is very difficult to catch a tricky leprechaun, but it is fun to try. You can try to lure him to you and grab him, or you can build a trap in which to capture him. There is no right or wrong way to build your trap. You can make a contraption with a net, boxes, a clean can, paper towel rolls, empty containers, tin foil, paper, string or yarn, sandwich bags, just about anything you can think of. You have to be very creative to catch a leprechaun. If you are lucky enough to catch one, be sure not to take your eye off of him for even a second. If you do, he will disappear.
Belief in leprechauns and other fairies was once widespread In Ireland, and real or not they will continue to amuse people all over the world.