Wednesday, 17 March 2010
Happy St. Patrick's Day! The Myth of the Leprechaun
When we think of the Leprechaun what's the first thing that comes to mind? For me – it's the Lucky Charms cereal leprechaun. He embodies everything I think a leprechaun should be – happy go lucky and always trying to find that pot at the end of the rainbow.
But how did the myth of the Leprechaun get started? The earliest reference to them was in a medieval story called "The Adventure of Furgus son of Leti." In the story, King Ulster falls asleep only to be dragged into the sea by three leprechauns. When he awakens, he turns the tide on the leprechauns and captures them. They grant the king three wishes for their release.
Of course, the most well known myth is that a leprechaun hides their pot of gold at the end of a rainbow. The trick? A rainbow is an optical illusion and will always move farther away as one walks towards it, so finding the end of the rainbow isn't as easy as it seems.
The poet, Yeats has an interesting description of leprechauns. They are "solitary fairies, wear red jackets, whereas the "trooping fairies" wear green.
Leprechauns are solitary nature, unfriendly, and they are said to live in remote places. They like to pass the time making shoes. They're generally quiet, but if you listen close, you might hear them hammering as they make their shoes. Leprechauns are tricky fellows to catch, but if you do catch one, perhaps you can persuade him to reveal the location of his pot of gold. Don't look away though; if you take your eyes off a leprechaun, he will vanish in an instant.
Fun Facts: The National Leprechaun Museum open in Dublin, Ireland this month.