They’re in the fairy family. They’re associated with rainbows. And it didn’t hurt that they left sparkly green footprints in our classroom. (Any other 80s kids out there remember those?)
And the fascination stands! For those of you equally fascinated (or at least curious), here are some fun facts about these crafty little guys.
1. Leprechauns are cobblers, but they only appear with one shoe. Indeed, according to author Judika Illes in The Encyclopedia of Spirits, the word leprechaun is derived from a Gaelic word meaning “one shoemaker.” She writes, “References to shoes, especially only one shoe, are often oblique references to shamanism. Ancient shamanic dances were often performed with one shoe on and one shoe off.”
2. A tapping sound may signal a leprechaun’s presence. This is the sound of him hard at work on that one shoe, tapping away with his little tiny hammer. But if this sound alerts you to a leprechaun in your midst, think before approaching him. He might play a prank on you and then disappear, but remain in the vicinity, and you will know it by the creepy sound of disembodied leprechaun laughter.
3. Traditionally, leprechauns actually wear red, not green. At least most of the time. To be more precise, according to author Carol Rose in Spirits, Fairies, Leprechauns, and Goblins, “He is said to wear a red jacket with silver buttons, brown breeches, black silver-buckled shoes, and a high crowned hat…he usually has a leather apron.”
4. The leprechaun has a drunker counterpart. The cluricaun. It is unclear whether the leprechaun and the cluricaun are in fact one and the same, but one wonders if cluricauns are leprechauns who have gotten in the habit of hitting the bottle a little too hard – and are mean drunks. Still, even though considered malicious, this guy can apparently still be helpful when it comes to liquor protection. Carol Rose writes, “He inhabits the wine cellars of houses, where he makes sure the bungs are tight and the casks’ taps not left running. Although nearly always appearing to be drunk, he would frighten the household servants to prevent them from helping themselves to the wine cellars’ contents.”