Are Leprechaun cute, friendly gold gifting symbols of Irish tradition or misunderstood tricksters who only want to be left alone? Today’s our understanding of these mischievous creatures is a mixture of legend, folklore and Hollywood.
We all have seen leprechauns, the most popular one being sold with marshmallows to be eaten with milk. Whether we’ve seen them in movies or on cereal boxes. Or at the local St. Patrick’s Day Parade where they seem to come in all shapes and sizes, a few things most of us will agree with is: they’re short, they have gold and they’re always wearing green.
A Golden Origin
In Irish Folklore a leprechaun is the deformed, unwanted offspring of fairies, which is sad, but explains some of their mischievous and solitary behaviors. Additionally, Irish lore believes that there are no female leprechauns according to the A History of Irish Fairies by C. White.
It got me thinking, have I ever heard of a homely (I dislike the word ugly) female fairy? I went online and typed in the Google search engine, “Homely female fairies” and nope. I couldn’t even find a picture of something that resembled a bad looking female fairy. I did the same thing with male fairies and a few pictures came up that were less than appealing and oddly enough, there were a few pictures of leprechauns!
According to the Irish Novelist Samuel Lover (1797-1868) who wrote Legends and Stories of Ireland, Leprechauns were described very differently from what we know today. The creature helped people, usually when they weren’t looking. They lived along and they were more fond of red than green! In his book he makes several references to red coats and red sweaters, short creatures no more than two and a half feet high. They wore hats laced with gold and were considered to be dabber.
Sightings Still Happening?
Okay, so that’s all for lore and what not. No one has seen a leprechaun in what a hundred years? They can’t be real, you say. Well, I thought that too and then I found this on Ancient Origins The most recent reported sighting was in 1989 in the town of Carlingford in the European country of Ireland. Also, it was not just a sighting, but the pub owner who makes this claim P.J. O’Hare said he found the clothes and bones remain of the creature, which are currently on display in his pub. Cool and gross at the same time, if you ask me.
The legend of the leprechaun goes back thousands of years and may not have even started in Ireland. Holland has a similar folklore even the Isle of Man has a small gnome-like creature that is said to help sheep herders.
You Have To Protect Your Folklore
Interestingly enough, the leprechaun is a protected creature according to the E.U. In 2009. It was in response to the Carlingford claim of 1989 (read the story on Ancient-Orgins). There is now a preserve dedicated to the little people of Carlingford where they are deemed an endangered species and hunting them is against the law.
Still not sure the wee little people exist? No, me neither. Here’s what I do know: Leprechaunism is a real, extremely rare disorder. It’s also called Donohue Syndrome. It affects mostly men, and yes babies born with the disorder are usually small before and after birth. It is similar to dwarfism in characteristics and unfortunately has very similar endings.
I also know that the modernized concept of Leprechauns aren’t going anywhere and the Irish seem okay with that, for the most part. So watch for rainbows, mind your “shinies” and who knows, maybe the next reported sighting will be in 2018.