In this Sci-Fi/Fantasy Writers Series I will provide sci-fi/fantasy writers with a wealth of information concerning subjects that they may wish to use in their work.
The series will name and describe some of the magical or fantastical creatures that you may want to use in your stories.
A leprechaun is a creature from Irish folklore. Leprechauns are generally presented as a type of fairy in the form of a tiny old man. He is often dressed in a cocked hat, wearing a leather apron. Legends present him to be solitary by nature and to live in remote places where he spends his time making brogue shoes. Traditionally, he also possesses a hidden crock of gold which he guards jealously. The word leprechaun derives ultimately from the Old Irish word luchorpan meaning “little body.”
By birth the Leprechaun is of low descent. His father is said to be an evil spirit and his mother a degenerate fairy. His nature is that of a mischief-maker, the “Puck of the Emerald Isle.” He is of diminutive size, about three feet high, and is dressed in a little red jacket or roundabout, with red breeches buckled at the knee, gray or black stockings, and a hat, cocked in the outdated style of the eighteenth century, over a little, old, withered face.
In mythology, the leprechaun is neither entirely good nor entirely evil. He often is characterized with a mix of both qualities. Sometimes he is portrayed as having a generous nature and performing a kind service. Other times, he is seen as descending into pettiness and meanness. However, his character is such that he is never completely noble nor wholly depraved.
Stories originating from Clare and Galway, Ireland report that the favorite amusement of the Leprechaun is riding a sheep or goat, or even a dog, when the other animals are not available. Herdsmen are reported to have found their sheep looking weary in the morning or found their dog in a state of muddy disarray and worn out with fatigue. This, the herdsman understands, means that the local Leprechaun has used his animal to travel a great distance rather than walk to his destination on foot.
Aside from riding sheep and dogs almost to the point of death, the Leprechaun is credited with small acts of mischief around the house. Legend insists that Leprechauns will make the pot boil over and put out the fire, then again, he will make it impossible for the pot to boil at all. He will steal food such as bacon and potatoes, or fling babies down onto the floor. Occasionally, he is thought to throw articles of furniture around a room with a strength and vigor altogether disproportionate to his diminutive size.
But his mischievous pranks seldom go further than to drink up all the milk or despoil a homeowner’s bottle of poteen, sometimes, filling the bottle with water. Additional stories portray the mischief-making Leprechaun as growing very angry and stoking the flames in a fireplace or hearth, startling the homeowner.
- D. R. McAnally, Jr., Irish Wonders: The Ghosts, Giants, Pookas, Demons, Leprechawns, Banshees, Fairies, Witches, Widows, Old Maids, And Other Marvels Of The Emerald Isle Popular Tales As Told By The People, Edition 1, Weathervane Books – New York, Copyright © 1888. In the Public Domain. Found at https://www.gutenberg.org/files/19486/19486-h/19486-h.html#toc67.