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DEC 17, 2013

Leprechauns – what you may or may not know

There are very few that don’t know what a leprechaun is. Popular culture and ancient lore are full of stories about these cheeky chappies. Over the years the leprechaun has become synonymous with Irish culture. Indeed, come St. Patricks Day you’re likely to look out on a sea of green bodies dressed with red beards and top hats wandering the streets. However, leprechauns enjoy a rich history.

Here are a few facts that you may or may not know about leprechauns.

Their appearance has evolved over time

Leprechauns haven’t always been festooned in green attire with a top hat, complete with red beard. Time has seen their appearance change. Early Irish folklore describes leprechauns as ‘short beings dressed in red who wore a cocked hat.’ Not quite the same as the image that we have come to know today.

They haven’t been sighted for twenty years

Those with stories claiming to have had a leprechaun grace their presence date back thousands of years however there haven’t been any reported sightings for over two decades. Indeed, the last recorded leprechaun sighting was in 1989. A Pub Landlord, P.J. O’Hare of Carlington, Ireland claimed he heard screaming in a nearby well. Upon investigating his discovered a miniature skeleton and clothing synonymous with leprechaun lore. The event has become so famous that it’s inspired the annual leprechaun hunt in the town of Carlington – using fake leprechauns of course.

The fairer sex of leprechauns don’t exist

No female leprechaun sightings have ever been recorded. The question then to ask is how do they have offspring? According to the book, ‘A History of Irish Fairies’ not a single female leprechaun has ever been sighted. Quite intriguing one might say.

Under European law leprechauns are a protected species

Are leprechauns an endangered species? Is this the reason why the sightings are few and far between? The Silabh Foy Loop trail in the town of Carlington serves to protect what is believed as the country’s 236 leprechauns. The law was even filed by the European Union. Anyone visiting the area will see the trail dotted with signs warning ramblers to be wary of leprechauns. Indeed, one sign states that hunters and fortunes seekers will be prosecuted.

Leprechauns aren’t solely native to Ireland

The Emerald Isle isn’t the only place to find leprechauns.  It may be true that Ireland has popularised the legend of the Leprechaun, but other countries the world over have reported smaller humanoids. Throughout Holland the ‘Kabouter’ a small gnome-like creature that cobbles the shores has been spotted. Maybe the species are related?

Created on 17th December 2013
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