June 06, 2007


I just can't seem to get enough of fantasy. Moi's talk about Irish weddings reminded me of their faeries ( I love the way its spelt in contrast to the usual fairy) and here I am delving into the leprechaun story.

A leprechaun according to Irish mythology is a male faerie who is found in Ireland.They usually take the form of old men who enjoy partaking in mischief. Their trade is that of a cobbler or shoemaker. According to legend, if anyone keeps an eye fixed upon one, he cannot escape, but the moment the eye is withdrawn he vanishes. The famous Tv series Charmed had a few episodes on leprechauns, where they were shown carrying a pot of gold and spreading luck. They were depicted according to the common sterotype as small men in green.

One of the most widely accepted theories is that the name comes from the Irish Gaelic word leipreachán, defined by Dinneen as "a pigmy, a sprite, a leprechaun; for luchorpán".The latter word Dinneen defines as "a pigmy, a leprechaun, 'a kind of aqueous sprite'".This word also means "half-bodied", or "small-bodied".
Fr. Dinnen was the author of the famous Irish dictionary.

Another theory states that word believed to be the root is luchorpán. An alternative derivation for that word being leath bhrógan, meaning shoe-maker — the leprechaun is known as the fairy shoemaker of Ireland and is often portrayed working on a single shoe.

Another derivation has the word "leprechaun" deriving from luch-chromain, meaning "little stooping Lugh".Lugh being the name of a leader of the Tuatha De Danann.
The Tuathe De Danann according to Irish myth were the fifth group to inhabit Ireland and were said to be the reprsentatives of the Irish gods.

The word leprechaun was first recorded in the English language in 1604 in Middleton and Dekker's The Honest Whore as lubrican.
"As for your Irish Lubrican, that spirit
Whom by preposterous charms thy lust has raised."

Leprechaun Tales:
A farmer or young lad captures a leprechaun and forces him to reveal the location of his buried treasure. The leprechaun assures him that the treasure is buried in an open field beneath a particular ragwort plant. The farmer ties a red ribbon to the plant, first extracting a promise from the leprechaun not to remove the ribbon. Releasing the leprechaun, he leaves to get a shovel. Upon his return he finds that every weed in the field has been tied with an identical red ribbon, thus making it impossible to find the treasure.

In another story, a young girl finds a leprechaun and bids him show her the location of his buried money. She takes him up in her hand and sets out to find the treasure, but all of a sudden she hears a loud buzzing behind her. The leprechaun shouts at her that she is being chased by a swarm of bees, but when she looks around there are no bees and the leprechaun has vanished.

In a popular tale of Cork Kerry, the daughter of a beekeeper sees the old fairie and asks him for the finest shoes in Southwest Ireland. He agrees to make them for her from as much bee's wax as she can carry. Upon her return, despite carrying her father's life savings, the sprite says he needs more. The girl robs the neighbor's hives but is killed by the bees. The loss of the wax ruins both families and they are forced to move North.

In other stories they are told of riding shepherds' dogs through the night, leaving the dogs exhausted and dirty in the morning. It is said that at the unreachable end of a rainbow, you may find a leprechaun and his treasured pot of gold.

"Quite a beau in his dress, notwithstanding, for he wears a red square-cut coat, richly laced with gold, waistcoat and inexpressible of the same, cocked hat, shoes and buckles."
-Samuel Lover

"He is something of a dandy, and dresses in a red coat with seven rows of buttons, seven buttons on each row, and wears a cocked-hat, upon whose pointed end he is wont in the north-eastern counties, according to McAnally, to spin like a top when the fit seizes him."

"A wrinkled, wizen'd, and bearded Elf,
Spectacles stuck on his pointed nose,
Silver buckles to his hose,
Leather apron - shoe in his lap"
-William Allingham
Picuters : Google Images


Moi said...

very cute and informative, Su.....
Reminds moi of this limerick on them i finally found on net :
"The leprechaun found some gold
he thought that the gold looked old.
The gold was too shiny
and also way too tiny.
So he sold the gold."

I love the way the word rolls off my tongue :)

yogsma said...

huggggggggggh post.. loved the pronunciation of the word..

suramya said...

moi : thats such a cute limerick :):) its a good thing I didn't find otherwise I would have been tempted to put it in and I did have so much trouble editing this post :)

yogsma: I tried to shorten it as much as I could, but I didn't want to miss out on the essentials and the leprechaun tales were too cute not to be shared :)

Jas Bhambra said...

I always had been fascinated by the very word Leperchaun (never looked it up though for its origins!). This post has been qute informative on the subject. Thanks Suramya.

Moi said...

Su : i can imagine.....theres so much u wanna share and then u are not sure if others are as interested as u are in knowing ......constant struggle when one has to write fro Semantiva...:)

Moi said...

* Semantica...Oops!!! :)

yogsma said...

Suramya- It was my surprise gesture..you took it differently.Anything interesting to read is always welcome..whatever it is size..:-)

suramya said...

jas: I'm glad u liked it :)

moi: thats so true, my besetting sin is that I never know when to cut short my ramblings :)

yogsma: no issues, I was not on the defensive :):):), pardon me. I was just remarking on the wealth of matter I had before me for this post.