Tuesday, September 25, 2012

The Fighting Leprechaun Looks for the Real Thing in Ireland

Leprechaun Houses in the Aran Islands
I've had the nickname, "Leprechaun" ever since high school. (One of the better nicknames I've acquired, without a doubt!)
A Good Place to Meet Relatives?

I Sort of Look Like This, Without the Beard and Hat

So when I went to Ireland, I naturally felt compelled to gain a feel for what these mythical wee folk were really like. Were leprechauns jolly fellows, like the cartoon shill for "Lucky Charms" cereal? Evil gremlins of the cheesy horror flicks by the same name?
I discovered that the reality was completely divorced from our stateside stereotypes. Thanks to some timely education by our guide, and also a local "leprechaun expert" we met in Dublin, I learned that leprechauns are indeed uniquely Irish creatures, with fairly pedestrian talents as cobblers. (Did you like how I linked "pedestrian" and the art of shoemaking there?) Anyway, in the magical lore much of the Irish acknowledge, even if they may not actually believe, leprechauns are part of the same community as Fairies. In Ireland, Fairies bear no resemblance to Disney's cartoon sprite, nor Julia Roberts' portrayal of Tinkerbell. They are much more robust, like diminutive versions of Gaelic Football players, but with significant magical powers. (Well, perhaps at least one Gaelic Football team possesses supernatural powers, but more about Team Donegal in another post!)
In addition to making shoes for the netherworld, leprechauns are also charged with handling the banking duties, hence their reputation for access to "pots o' gold" at the end of the rainbow. I was starting to envision a weird amalgamation of Gepetto and Tyrion Lannister by the time our speaker wrapped up his presentation.

While I did not come face to face with any live leprechauns during my time in Ireland, (which by the way is the only manner by which a full-size human can keep hold of a leprechaun...look away even for a split second, and they are gone!), I did manage to get in touch with my "Inner Leprechaun"...and thankfully that doesn't involve eating "Lucky Charms" cereal, nor sewing flaps of leather together!

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