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The Truth About Leprechauns

During the Victorian era, you couldn’t be an Irish nationalist without believing in the little people — or at least saying you believed. (I’ve been researching the Victorian obsession with fairies for my presentation at Clockwork Alchemy this spring. Go ahead, ask me anything!).

Ahem. Anyway. In honor of St. Patrick’s Day: leprechauns.

Leprechaun legends have been traced back as far as the 8th century. Some believe their name derives from luchorpán, water spirits. Others believe the name comes from the Gaelic leath bhrogan, meaning shoemaker. While fairytales may associate leprechauns with rainbows and pots of gold, the older folklore puts them as shoemakers, which is a little less glamorous. Like a tommyknocker, the tiny shoemaker may give his presence away by the tapping of his hammer. The Victorian Irish poet, William Allingham, composed a poem noting this trait, called “The Leprechaun: Or Fairy Shoemaker.” Here’s a snippet:

Lay your ear close to the hill.
Do you not catch the tiny clamour,
Busy click of an elfin hammer,
Voice of the Lepracaun singing shrill
As he merrily plies his trade?

If you catch a leprechaun, you can try to barter his freedom for wishes or treasure… which is glorified robbery, if you think about it. But never fear, leprechauns are tricky, and known for honoring their part of the deal while managing to maintain their grip on their gold.

No nearby hills and dales to go leprechaun hunting in? Then you can make a seriously bad-ass trap like Kyle did>>>

I guess leprechaun traps are a thing now. I found a bunch of trap videos on YouTube, though Kyles was probably the most, er, intense.

Leprechaun or Clurichaun?

Leprechaun or Clurichaun?

And speaking of intense, the leprechaun genus also has its dark side — the clurichaun. A heavy drinker, the clurichaun is known for harassing farm animals and stealing (mainly booze). Since leprechauns like to drink as well, the clurichaun could be a leprechaun after one too many, rather than a separate breed. But the clurichaun might explain this guy — was the movie mis-named?

About the Author

Of Mice and Mechanicals Kirsten WeissKirsten Weiss has been assured by reliable sources that her garden is leprechaun-free, though there may be some elementals. She’s also the author of The Hoodoo Detective, book six in the Riga Hayworth series of paranormal mystery novels.

Other books in the Riga Hayworth series of urban fantasies include: The Metaphysical DetectiveThe Alchemical DetectiveThe Shamanic DetectiveThe Infernal Detective and The Elemental Detective. Kirsten is also the author of Steam and Sensibility, a steampunk novel of suspense. Its sequel: Of Mice and Mechanicals, will be available in March, 2015.

Find her at and @KirstenWeiss




  1. I always thought the ransom for his freedom was a bit dangerous and dark. You’re basically kidnapping a creature and asking him to pay his own ransom. Weird!

    • Candy, I totally agree! I wonder if the kidnapping was considered “fair play” because fairies were believed to kidnap humans (mainly women and children) and leave changelings in their place?

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