Monster Monday: Leprechaun

We all know about vampires and werewolves, or at least we think we do. The legends and myths that inspired these monsters are sometimes surprisingly different, but no less chilling. In this series of posts, Monster Monday, we’ll investigate the monsters that have informed our modern notions, as well as some lesser known monsters. Today, we talk about the Leprechaun.

Leprechaun Engraving c. 1900
Leprechaun Engraving c. 1900

The Leprechaun is, of course, a creature from Irish folklore, but there are some significant differences from the modern image familiar to most people. Traditionally, a Leprechaun is a type of faerie, among the oldest in Ireland, and while they do tend to keep their gold in magical cauldrons, most of the similarities end there.

In many legends, Leprechauns appear as solitary old men about three feet tall with long, grey beards who like to make and fix shoes and play tricks. Sometimes, however, their tricks are not so innocent, as they have been known to kidnap people to the faerie realm or even try to kill people who got too near their gold. In addition, they generally wear red coats, not green. It is said that if you can capture a leprechaun, he will grant you three wishes in return for releasing him, but of course that is only if he doesn’t trick you into letting him go first.

Many think the word leprechaun comes from Old Irish, meaning “little body,” but that etymology is not accepted by everyone, as leprechauns may have been originally among the tallest of the faeries.

Beannachtaí na Féile Pádraig oraibh! (Happy St. Patrick’s Day, everyone!)

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