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Encyclopedia > Leprechaun
A depiction of a Leprechaun of the type popularised in the 20th Century.
A depiction of a Leprechaun of the type popularised in the 20th Century.

In Irish mythology, a leprechaun (Irish: leipreachán) is a type of male faerie said to inhabit the island of Ireland. They are a class of "faerie folk" associated in Irish mythology and folklore, as with all faeries, with the Tuatha Dé Danann and other quasi-historical peoples said to have inhabited Ireland before the arrival of the Celts. Look up leprechaun in Wiktionary, the free dictionary. ... Image File history File links Download high resolution version (790x1400, 588 KB) Title : Leprechaun Description(fr) : Leprechaun illustator : JNL File links The following pages link to this file: Leprechaun ... Image File history File links Download high resolution version (790x1400, 588 KB) Title : Leprechaun Description(fr) : Leprechaun illustator : JNL File links The following pages link to this file: Leprechaun ... Popular culture (or pop culture) is the widespread cultural elements in any given society that are perpetuated through that societys vernacular language or lingua franca. ... (19th century - 20th century - 21st century - more centuries) Decades: 1900s 1910s 1920s 1930s 1940s 1950s 1960s 1970s 1980s 1990s As a means of recording the passage of time, the 20th century was that century which lasted from 1901–2000 in the sense of the Gregorian calendar (1900–1999 in the... The mythology of pre-Christian Ireland did not entirely survive the conversion to Christianity, but much of it was preserved, shorn of its religious meanings, in medieval Irish literature, which represents the most extensive and best preserved of all the branches of Celtic mythology. ... In mythology and in fiction, Faerie (see also fairy) is an otherworldly realm, home to the Fae or fairies, though many believe this place to be neither mythical nor fictional, but quite real. ... In mythology and in fiction, Faerie (see also fairy) is an otherworldly realm, home to the Fae or fairies, though many believe this place to be neither mythical nor fictional, but quite real. ... “Áes dána” redirects here. ... Celts, normally pronounced //, is a modern term used to describe any of the European peoples who spoke, or speak, a Celtic language. ...


Leprechauns and other creatures of Irish mythology are often associated with "faerie forts" or "faerie rings" — often the sites of ancient (Celtic or pre-Celtic) earthworks or drumlins. Although the Leprechaun has a significant body of literature reaching back into the 19th century and perhaps beyond via oral history there is no direct reference to the Leprechaun in what are known as "ancient Irish tales". One reference from the life of St. Brendan of Clonfert does mention an island of little people however, they do not have the cultural traits of the Leprechaun. (See: [1]) Fairy forts are places with remains of Celtic ringforts in Ireland. ... One of Arthur Rackhams illustrations to William Shakespeares A Midsummer Nights Dream. ... In civil engineering, earthworks are engineering works created through the moving of massive quantities of soil or unformed stone. ... Drumlin in Cato, New York Drowned drumlin in Clew Bay Drumlin at Withrow Moraine and Jameson Lake Drumlin Field National Natural Landmark A drumlin (Irish droimnín, a little hill ridge) is an elongated whale-shaped hill formed by glacial action. ... Saint Brendan, (484 (?) – 577 (?)) called the Navigator, is one of the early Irish monastic saints whose legends have overshadowed their history. ...


They usually take the form of old men who enjoy partaking in mischief. Their trade is that of a cobbler or shoemaker. Prior to extensive working of metals the leather worker as tanner as well as producing such things as shields as well as clothing, bowls and buckets would have been an important figure in ancient Ireland.The Leprechaun therefore, is a craft specialist- a professional in the community.The Leprechauns are said to be very rich, having many treasure crocks buried during war-time. Therefore, Leprechauns are not only professionals but thrifty. According to legend, if anyone keeps an eye fixed upon one, he cannot escape, but the moment the gaze is withdrawn, he vanishes. If one captures a Leprechaun he must be truthful and honest and tell you where he has hidden his treasure. The Leprechaun although honest and obeying the laws is crafty. This is an important skill any person who wishes to make the best of any legal system. The Leprechaun therefore, has worked hard to become a professional, saves his money, is honest and follows the laws while being careful to maximize the use of legal loopholes.He is essentially a very good role model well suited to the genre of what are called "peasant tales" of the 18th and 19th century in Ireland. For literature reflecting these values see:{{ [2]}} Cobbler may mean: a person who makes and repairs shoes and boots for a living. ... Shoemaking is a traditional career/craft, mostly superseded by industrial manufacture of footwear. ...

Contents

Etymology

A leprechaun counts his gold, in this engraving circa 1900.
A leprechaun counts his gold, in this engraving circa 1900.

There are a number of possible etymologies of the name "leprechaun". One of the most widely accepted theories is that the name comes from the Irish 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'";[3] this word has also been identified as meaning "half-bodied", or "small-bodied". This is the etymology given in the Collins English Dictionary.[4] Image File history File links Leprechaun_engraving_1900. ... Image File history File links Leprechaun_engraving_1900. ... GOLD refers to one of the following: GOLD (IEEE) is an IEEE program designed to garner more student members at the university level (Graduates of the Last Decade). ... Äž: For the film, see: 1900 (film). ... Etymologies redirects here. ... An tAthair Pádraig Ó Duinnín or Father Patrick Dinneen (25 December 1860–29 September 1934) was an Irish lexicographer and historian. ...


The word which is widely believed to be the root and one of the ones quoted by the Oxford English Dictionary is luchorpán. An alternative derivation for the name and another one quoted by the Oxford English Dictionary, is leath bhrógan, meaning shoe-maker — the leprechaun is known as the fairy shoemaker of Ireland and is often portrayed working on a single shoe.[5] Another derivation has the word "leprechaun" deriving from luch-chromain, meaning "little stooping Lugh", Lugh being the name of a leader of the Tuatha Dé Danann.[6] The Oxford English Dictionary print set The Oxford English Dictionary (OED) is a dictionary published by the Oxford University Press (OUP), and is the most successful dictionary of the English language, (not to be confused with the one-volume Oxford Dictionary of English, formerly New Oxford Dictionary of English, of... The Oxford English Dictionary print set The Oxford English Dictionary (OED) is a dictionary published by the Oxford University Press (OUP), and is the most successful dictionary of the English language, (not to be confused with the one-volume Oxford Dictionary of English, formerly New Oxford Dictionary of English, of... For other subjects with similar names, see Lug. ... “Áes dána” redirects here. ...


The word leprechaun was first recorded used in the English language in 1604 in Middleton and Dekker's The Honest Whore as lubrican. The original meaning was of some kind of spirit and not specifically associated with the Irish mythological character:[7] The English language is a West Germanic language that originates in England. ... Events January 14 – Hampton Court conference with James I of England, the Anglican bishops and representatives of Puritans September 20 – Capture of Ostend by Spanish forces under Ambrosio Spinola after a three year siege. ... Thomas Middleton (1580 – 1627) was an English Jacobean playwright and poet. ... Thomas Dekker, (c. ... The Honest Whore is a city comedy by Thomas Middleton, co-written with Thomas Dekker in 1604. ... The English word spirit comes from the Latin spiritus (breath). // The English word spirit comes from the Latin spiritus, meaning breath (compare spiritus asper), but also soul, courage, vigor, ultimately from a PIE root *(s)peis- (to blow). In the Vulgate, the Latin word translates Greek (πνευμα), pneuma (Hebrew (רוח) ruah), as...

"As for your Irish Lubrican, that spirit
Whom by preposterous charms thy lust has raised." [8]

Some alternative spellings of the word leprechaun that have been used throughout the ages are; leprechawn, lepracaun and lubberkin. The word leprehaun has also been used.


Mythology

Leprechauns rarely appear in what would be classed as a folk tale; in almost all cases the interest of these stories centres round a human hero. Stories about leprechauns are generally very brief and generally have local names and scenery attached to them. The tales are usually told conversationally as any other occurrence might be told, whereas there is a certain solemnity about the repetition of a folk-tale proper. Folklore is the ethnographic concept of the tales, legends, or superstitions current among a particular ethnic population, a part of the oral history of a particular culture. ... For other uses, see Hero (disambiguation). ...


In most tales and stories leprechauns are depicted as generally harmless creatures who enjoy solitude and live in remote locations, although opinion is divided as to if they ever enjoy the company of other spirits. Although rarely seen in social situations, leprechauns are supposedly very well spoken and, if ever spoken to, could make good conversation.

A leprechaun is shown crafting shoes in this Engraving made in 1858. In previous years leprechauns had a less homogenised appearance.
A leprechaun is shown crafting shoes in this Engraving made in 1858. In previous years leprechauns had a less homogenised appearance.

Among the most popular of beliefs about leprechauns is that they are extremely wealthy and like to hide their gold in secret locations, which can only be revealed if a person were to actually capture and interrogate a leprechaun for its money. Image File history File links Leprechaun_engraving_1858. ... Image File history File links Leprechaun_engraving_1858. ... shoe for right foot A shoe is a piece of footwear for humans, less than a boot and more than a slipper. ... Engraving is the practice of incising a design onto a hard, flat surface, by cutting grooves into it. ... Year 1858 (MDCCCLVIII) was a common year starting on Friday (link will display the full calendar) of the Gregorian Calendar (or a common year starting on Wednesday of the 12-day slower Julian calendar). ... GOLD refers to one of the following: GOLD (IEEE) is an IEEE program designed to garner more student members at the university level (Graduates of the Last Decade). ...


By nature, leprechauns are said to be ill-natured and mischievous, with a mind for cunning. Many tales present the leprechaun as outwitting a human, as in the following examples.


Examples of tales involving leprechauns

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.[9][10] Binomial name Senecio jacobaea Ragwort (Senecio jacobaea) is a common wild flower in the family Asteraceae that is found throughout Europe, usually in dry, open places. ...


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.[11]


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 end of a rainbow, you may find a leprechaun and his treasured pot of gold.


Appearance

The leprechaun originally had a different appearance depending on where in Ireland he was found.[12] Prior to the 20th century, it was generally agreed that the leprechaun wore red and not green. Samuel Lover, writing in the 1831 describes the leprechaun as, (19th century - 20th century - 21st century - more centuries) Decades: 1900s 1910s 1920s 1930s 1940s 1950s 1960s 1970s 1980s 1990s As a means of recording the passage of time, the 20th century was that century which lasted from 1901–2000 in the sense of the Gregorian calendar (1900–1999 in the... Samuel Lover (February 24, 1797 Dublin ‑ July 6, 1868) was an Irish songwriter, novelist, as well as a painter of portraits, chiefly miniatures. ...

... quite a beau in his dress, notwithstanding, for he wears a red square-cut coat, richly laced with gold, and inexpressible of the same, cocked hat, shoes and buckles.[13]

Yeats, in his 1888 book entitled Fairy and Folk Tales of the Irish Peasantry describes the leprechaun as follows:

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.[14]

In a poem entitled The Lepracaun; or, Fairy Shoemaker, the 18th century Irish poet William Allingham describes the appearance of the leprechaun as: (17th century - 18th century - 19th century - more centuries) As a means of recording the passage of time, the 18th century refers to the century that lasted from 1701 through 1800. ... An 1880 portrait of William Allingham by his wife Helen (Mark Samuels Lasner Collection, on loan to the University of Delaware Library) William Allingham (March 19, 1824 or 1828 - November 18, 1889) was an Irish man of letters and poet. ...

A cluricaun with a jug of wine. The cluricaun is often confused with the leprechaun.
A cluricaun with a jug of wine. The cluricaun is often confused with the leprechaun.
...A wrinkled, wizen'd, and bearded Elf,
Spectacles stuck on his pointed nose,
Silver buckles to his hose,
Leather apron - shoe in his lap... [15]

Some commentators accuse Allingham of leaving the legacy of the modern image of the leprechaun described below. [16] Image File history File links Leprechaun_or_Clurichaun. ... Image File history File links Leprechaun_or_Clurichaun. ... A cluricaun is a drunken leprechaun-like creature in Irish mythology thought to raid wine cellars. ...


The modern image of the leprechaun is almost invariant: he is depicted wearing an emerald green frock coat, and bestowed with the knowledge of the location of buried treasure, often in a crock of gold. An emerald color is a shade of green that is particularly light and bright, with a faint bluish cast. ... Formal black frock coat with silk-faced lapels, light grey waistcoat, striped trousers, button boots, gloves, ascot-knotted cravate, and necktie pin; April 1904. ... For other uses, see Treasure (disambiguation). ... A Crock is a fired clay (or earthenware) container sometimes used for food and water, synonymous with the word pot, and sometimes used for chemicals. ... GOLD refers to one of the following: GOLD (IEEE) is an IEEE program designed to garner more student members at the university level (Graduates of the Last Decade). ...


Related creatures

The leprechaun is related to the clurichaun and the far darrig in that he is a solitary creature. Some writers even go as far as to substitute these second two less well-known spirits for the leprechaun in stories or tales to reach a wider audience. The clurichaun is considered by some to be merely a leprechaun on a spree.[17] A representation of a Clurichaun in T. C. Crokers Fairy Legends and Traditions of the South of Ireland Land or Origin: Ireland. ... A far darrig or fear dearg is a faerie of Irish mythology. ...


In politics

In the politics of the Republic of Ireland, leprechauns have been used to refer to the twee aspects of the tourist industry in Ireland [18] [19]. This can be seen from this example of John A. Costello addressing the Oireachtas in 1963: Politics of Ireland (the Republic of Ireland) takes place in a framework of a parliamentary representative democratic republic, whereby the Taoiseach (Prime Minister) is the head of government, and of a pluriform multi-party system. ... For the member of Seanad Éireann from 1963–65, see John Costelloe John Aloysius Costello (20 June 1891 – 5 January 1976), a successful barrister, was one of the main legal advisors to the government of the Irish Free State after independence, Attorney General of Ireland from 1926–1932 and Taoiseach... The Oireachtas is the National Parliament of the Republic of Ireland. ...

For many years, we were afflicted with the miserable trivialities of our tourist advertising. Sometimes it descended to the lowest depths, to the caubeen and the shillelagh, not to speak of the leprechaun. [20]

Leprechauns have also been used in jokes regarding fiscal irresponsibility, the idea being that the politician or political party being attacked has found a pot of gold, or is going to ask a leprechaun for the location of such a pot, accommodating their spending. A Caubeen as worn by the Royal Irish Regiment and pipers of the Irish Guards A caubeen is an Irish soldiers headdress, a variation on the beret or Tam oShanter. ... A shillelagh (commonly pronounced (IPA: , in Irish Gaelic, (IPA: É•ale:lÉ™)) is a wooden club or cudgel, typically made from a stout knotty stick with a large knob on the end, that is associated with Ireland in folklore. ...


The term leprechaun language, has been used by some Unionists in Northern Ireland, and is a pejorative for the Irish language.[21][22] Unionism, in the context of Ireland, is a belief in the continuation of the Act of Union 1800 (as amended by the Government of Ireland Act 1920) so that Northern Ireland (created by the 1920 Act) remains part of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. ... Northern Ireland (Irish: , Ulster Scots: Norlin Airlann) is a constituent country of the United Kingdom lying in the northeast of the island of Ireland, covering 5,459 square miles (14,139 km², about a sixth of the islands total area). ... It has been suggested that this article or section be merged with pejoration. ... This article is about the modern Goidelic language. ...


Popular culture

Movies, television cartoons and advertising have popularised a specific dim-witted image of leprechauns which bears scant resemblance to anything found in the cycles of Irish mythology. Many Irish people find the popularised image of a leprechaun to be little more than a series of offensive Irish stereotypes and a trivialisation of Ireland's rich and ancient culture.[23] For other uses, see Stereotype (disambiguation). ... A page from the Book of Kells. ...


The stereotypical image of a leprechaun bedecked in green is particularly strong in the United States, where it is widely used for a variety of purposes, both commercial and non-commercial. A series of horror films beginning with Leprechaun in 1992 have depicted the stereotype as malevolent. “Horror Movie” redirects here. ... The tone or style of this article or section may not be appropriate for Wikipedia. ...


There was also a pyromaniac leprechaun on an episode of The Simpsons, the aformentioned Leprechaun repeatedly told Ralph Wiggum to "Burn them all". For the album by Def Leppard, see Pyromania (album) Pyromania is an obsession with fire and starting fires, in an intentional fashion, usually on multiple occasions. ... Simpsons redirects here. ... Ralph Wiggum is a fictional character on the animated series The Simpsons, voiced by Nancy Cartwright. ...


The "Spokesman" for the cereal Lucky Charms is a Leprechaun.


See also

Wikisource has original text related to this article:
Leprechaun
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Look up leprechaun in
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Image File history File links Wikisource-logo. ... The original Wikisource logo. ... Image File history File links Commons-logo. ... Wikipedia does not have an article with this exact name. ... Wiktionary (a portmanteau of wiki and dictionary) is a multilingual, Web-based project to create a free content dictionary, available in over 151 languages. ... A representation of a Clurichaun in T. C. Crokers Fairy Legends and Traditions of the South of Ireland Land or Origin: Ireland. ... A far darrig or fear dearg is a faerie of Irish mythology. ... A Kallikantzaros (Καλλικάντζαρος) pl. ... In Polynesian mythology, the Menehune are similar to elves or fairies. ... This article is about the legendary or mythical race. ... Cultural appropriation is the adoption of some specific elements of one culture by a different cultural group. ... ...

Notes

  1. ^  From Fairy and Folk Tales of the Irish Peasantry.
  2. ^  Dinneen, Patrick, Foclóir Gaedhilge agus Béarla, Dublin: Irish Texts Society, 1927
  3. ^  Hanks, Patrick, ed. Collins Dictionary of the English Language, London: William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd, 1979
  4. ^  Oxford English Dictionary (full ed.) (1989).
  5. ^  Ireland Now - The Leprechauns.
  6. ^  Oxford English Dictionary (full ed.) (1989).
  7. ^  The Fairy Mythology by Thomas Keightley - Ireland
  8. ^  The Field of Boliauns - A typical tale involving a leprechaun printed in the 1800s.
  9. ^  Clever Tom and the Leprechaun
  10. ^  The Leprechaun in the Garden
  11. ^  Little Guy Style
  12. ^  From Legends and Stories of Ireland
  13. ^  From Fairy and Folk Tales of the Irish Peasantry.
  14. ^  William Allingham - The Leprechaun
  15. ^  Criticism of William Allingham's The Fairies
  16. ^  From Fairy and Folk Tales of the Irish Peasantry.
  17. ^  Dáil Éireann - Volume 495 - 20 October, 1998 - Tourist Traffic Bill, 1998: Second Stage.
  18. ^  Dáil Éireann - Volume 206 - 11 December, 1963 Committee on Finance. - Vote 13—An Chomhairle Ealaoín.
  19. ^  Dáil Éireann - Volume 206 - 11 December, 1963 Committee on Finance. - Vote 13—An Chomhairle Ealaoín.
  20. ^  Republican Sinn Féin - AN GHAEILGE Why it is so important
  21. ^  Celtic League - Press Release - PSNI Not 'On Message' over Language Rights
  22. ^  Negra, D. (ed.) (2006) The Irish in Us: Irishness, Performativity and Popular Culture. (Durham : Duke University Press)

An tAthair Pádraig Ó Duinnín or Father Patrick Dinneen (25 December 1860–29 September 1934) was an Irish lexicographer and historian. ... The Oxford English Dictionary print set The Oxford English Dictionary (OED) is a dictionary published by the Oxford University Press (OUP), and is the most successful dictionary of the English language, (not to be confused with the one-volume Oxford Dictionary of English, formerly New Oxford Dictionary of English, of... The Oxford English Dictionary print set The Oxford English Dictionary (OED) is a dictionary published by the Oxford University Press (OUP), and is the most successful dictionary of the English language, (not to be confused with the one-volume Oxford Dictionary of English, formerly New Oxford Dictionary of English, of...

Further reading

  • Croker, T. C. (1862) Fairy Legends and Traditions of the South of Ireland
  • Yeats, W. B. (1888) Fairy and Folk Tales of the Irish Peasantry
  • McAnally, D. R. (1900) The Leprechawn
  • Lover, S. (1831) Legends and Stories of Ireland
  • Hyde, D. (1910) Beside The Fire
  • Keightley, T. (1870) The Fairy Mythology: Illustrative of the Romance and Superstition of Various Countries
  • Wilde, F. S. (1887) Ancient Legends, Mystic Charms, and Superstitions of Ireland

Thomas Crofton Croker, (January 15, 1798 – August 8, 1854), was an Irish Antiquary, born at Cork, for some years held a position in the Admiralty. ... William Butler Yeats, 1933. ... Samuel Lover (February 24, 1797 Dublin ‑ July 6, 1868) was an Irish songwriter, novelist, as well as a painter of portraits, chiefly miniatures. ... Douglas Hyde (Irish name Dubhghlas de hÍde) (17 January 1860 - 12 July 1949) was an Irish language scholar who served as the first President of Ireland from 1938 to 1945. ... Thomas Keightley (1789 - 1872) was a historian, educated at Trinity College, Dublin, who wrote works on mythology and folklore, and at the request of Dr Thomas Arnold of Rugby, a series of text-books on English, Greek, and other histories. ... Memorial to Lady Wilde and her husband located in Mount Jerome Cemetery, Dublin Jane Francesca Agnes, Lady Wilde (1826 - 3 February 1896)[1] (née Jane Francesca Elgee) was an Irish poet and supporter of the nationalist movement; she was the wife of Sir William Wilde and mother of Oscar...

External links

  • The Leprechaun Companion (an illustrated guide)
  • Extensive Leprechaun Resource Center(resource center for all things leprechaun)
  • The Leprechaun Watch (An intense surveillance of a remote, picturesque area near Thurles in County Tipperary where alleged Leprechaun sightings have been reported)

  Results from FactBites:
 
Leprechaun (209 words)
Leprechauns are called fairy cobblers, for they make shoes for elves (but always one shoe, never a pair).
When they finish their daily tasks, leprechauns like to organize wild feast, during which time they are referred to as cluricauns.
According to popular belief, a leprechaun possesses a treasure (usually a pot of gold) which a human may obtain if he succeeds in capturing one, which is extremely difficult.
The Leprechaun Watch | The webcam (135 words)
The leprechaun Irish fairy watch camera is in a hidden location in a field overlooking a fairy ring in Tipperary, Ireland.
Over the years it provided leprechauns with acorns for their pipes and other Irish fairies with shelter.
The tree is protected by an Irish fairy known as a skeaghshee or tree spirit.
  More results at FactBites »

 
 

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