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This page is about the Irish Humanoid, Not to be mistaken for the Leprocaun, of North American origins.

Goble-Book of Fairy Poetry024Lupracaun or Fairy Shoemaker

Leprechaun from The Book of Fairy Poetry illustrated by Goble, Warwick in 1920. Belief in faeries was once widespread; famous men such as Walt Disney and Battle of Britain hero Lord Dowding were members of the "Faery Investigation Society", founded in 1927.

The Leprechaun is a legendary, diminutive, supernatural being in Irish folklore.

Origins[]

Celtic Fairy Tales-1892-048-1

Image from Celtic Fairy Tales (1892)

The earliest known reference to the Leprechaun appears in the medieval tale known as the Echtra Fergus mac Léti (Adventure of Fergus son of Léti) which was recorded in the 8th century. The story focused on Fergus, the King of Ulster, and his many adventures. The tale spoke about Fergus falling asleep on a beach after much traveling. While he slept, a group of water sprites called Lúchorpáin emerged from the sea and attempted to drag the King into the sea with them. Their name means “little bodies” and these creatures were the first versions of Leprechauns. When the ice-cold water hit Fergus, he woke up and snatched the tiny creatures in his hand. He had heard that they could grant wishes, so he made a deal with the Lúchorpáín – in exchange for their freedom, Fergus would receive three wishes. They quickly agreed, and the three wishes were granted. One of these was to be able to breathe underwater. It was granted, but there was one thing Fergus had to remain aware of – the power would not work in Loch Rudraige. Fergus was a headstrong character, so he doubted this and sure enough went swimming in Loch Rudraige. He was amazed to find that he could indeed still breathe while exploring the lake, but soon he realized that the lúchorpáin were just trying to protect Fergus, as the lake was home to a gigantic sea monster called the Muirdris. Fergus would later kill the Muirdris.

Description[]

Contrary to popular culture, Leprechauns of folklore were often described as wearing red clothing as opposed to green. The Lurigadawne of Tipperary wore an "antique slashed jacket of red, with peaks all round and a jockey cap, also sporting a sword, which he uses as a magic wand". The Northern Leprechaun or Logheryman wore a "military red coat and white breeches, with a broad-brimmed, high, pointed hat, on which he would sometimes stand upside down". The Luricawne of Kerry was a "fat, pursy little fellow whose jolly round face rivals in redness the cut-a-way jacket he wears, that always has seven rows of seven buttons in each row".

Modern Sightings[]

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"A Strange Westmeath Report," 1908 newspaper clipping.

Lubdan

The Leprechaun from "Leprechaun"

In 1908, various reports coming from the Westmeath area became so frequent that they were deemed newsworthy. Below is a clipping from one, titled 'A Strange Westmeath Report', which reads: “In North Westmeath, especially Delvin district, an odd story was told on Friday. It runs that a strange creature has been observed for some days in the district of Killough, which is between Killucan and Delvin. Several persons, mostly children from the school, are reported to have seen it, and they describe it as a little creature resembling a man of dwarfish proportions, clad in a red jacket, and suiting the traditional description of a leprechaun." The Crichton Leprechaun (also the Mobile Leprechaun, Alabama Leprechaun) is a supposed sighting of a Leprechaun in a tree in Crichton, a neighborhood of Mobile, Alabama, following a 2006 news report filed at local NBC affiliate WPMI-TV. The video was posted to YouTube on St. Patrick's Day 2006 and became one of the first viral YouTube videos and was referenced in mainstream media.

Sources[]

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