The leprechaun is most widely known for keeping a pot of gold at the end of a rainbow. He is male and wears a green outfit and hat. He stands about 3 feet high and sports a beard with no mustache. He is a somewhat mischievous creature. This is the modern description of a him. See the picture at right.
What most people don’t know is he is the most industrious of all the Irish fairies. He is the shoemaker to the fairies. He is a solitary figure that can be heard in hedgerows throughout Ireland with a “tic-tac, tic-tac” sound while cobbling shoes. If you are lucky enough to come upon this sound be on the look out for him. One of his gifts is he knows where all hidden treasure is in Ireland. Not necessarily at the end of the rainbow. If you can catch him he might tell you where some treasure is hidden. But beware. He is a tricky little fellow as the following story relates.
Daniel and the Little Man
One morning while on the Rahona bog ‘Dan of the leaps’ met a leprechaun carrying a magic bridle and a purse that never emptied no matter how many times you pulled a coin from it. Daniel caught the fairy and swore he wouldn’t let go of him until he gave up the treasures he carried. The little man spoke up and said “What good is it for you to get them when that fellow behind you will immediately take them from you.” With that Daniel leapt up and spun around and saw no one behind him. Upon turning back the leprechaun had vanished, much to Daniel’s disappointment. He next saw the little man grinning at him from the next hedgerow never to be caught by Daniel again.
The lesson is once you catch a little fellow never ever take your eyes off him until you get his treasure. He will always disappear if you do.
The Poor Boy and the Little Shoemaker
There is a wealthy family near Castlerea, Co Roscommon that is said to have become rich because of fairy treasure.
The story goes that a poor boy was driving a turf cart to market to make what meager money he could by selling the turf. He came upon a little shoemaker on the way and caught him. He knew by reading old books that leprechaun’s knew of hidden treasure. He made the little man show him to a fairy fort that was filled with silver and gold. Since the boy never harmed the fairy he let the boy take as make treasure as he wanted until sunset. Then the treasure was never to be seen again.
When the boy returned home he counted his gold and saw he had a king’s ransom. He told no one of this treasure. Instead he took it all to Dublin and put it in a bank where he made some wise investments. His descendant’s are still rich to this day. They are known for their generosity and friendly heart for they have always given to the poor and needy.
The lesson here is if you do get a hold of some hidden treasure through a little man be generous with it and it may grow.
Leprechauns of Old
Before I finish up with the last story, I want to tell you how the leprechaun was known before his modern depiction. He has a long and distinguished pedigree. He was very aristocratic. He wore a Frenchman’s cap, yellow breeches and a red jacket and cape. (See the picture at the right of Iubdan, King of the Leprechauns.) He was anywhere from the size of a bug to about 3 feet tall.
He was first written about in a story from the ninth century called “The Saga of Fergus, son of Leti”. In this story Fergus the king of Ulster receives a pair of magic shoes from a leprechaun that let him swim underwater for long periods of time.
The last story is about when things go bad with the little man.
Never Harm A Leprechaun
If you catch a leprechaun and cause him harm to force him to tell of his treasure. You will be sorry. They can very malicious if treated badly.
There once was a young lad who caught a little man and brought him home. The lad chained him near the fireplace. The lad told the little man if he didn’t tell him where the gold was hid he would punish him. When the fairy refused the lad burned him in the fire. After the little shoemaker cried “Let me off, let me off” he told the lad the gold was under the dock leaf where he found him.
As he ran out the door to find the treasure, he ran into his mother who was coming in with a fresh pail of milk. The milk was spilled. The mother upon seeing the fairy blamed him for the spilled milk. She beat him and sent him out the door.
Needless to say the young lad dug and dug but found no gold. But there is more to this story.
Later that night the lad’s father was on his way home. When he walked near a fairy fort he could hear the fairies saying that the young lad will never find the gold. The real hiding place of the gold was at the bottom of the quarry. The man who goes there for the gold should go at midnight and not bring his wife.
The man went home and told his wife the story. So at midnight he set off for the quarry. After he was gone the wife thinking she would never see any of the gold if her husband found it first also left for the quarry. She knew a short cut that would get her there first. But it was a very dark night and she tripped in the quarry and broke her leg. Her husband found her there and forgot about the gold and got his wife home.
She had a limp the rest of her life. People said the curse of the leprechaun was on her. The family never saw the pot of gold. They did see the little shoemaker once in a while laughing at them and making shoes in the hedge. But they were afraid to touch him because they knew he could take his revenge.
So, always treat the little man with respect and don’t be greedy. If you treat him well you just might find that pot of gold.
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