Leprechauns are often portrayed as tiny bearded men in green outfits. For centuries they have roamed Ireland, and over the years they’ve made their way into plenty of Irish stories! But despite their constant pop-ups in Irish folklore, we really don’t know that much about these funny little men! So, read on to learn 50 facts about Leprechauns.
Fact 1: A Leprechaun is a creature in Irish folklore.
- Leprechauns were first mentioned in the medieval tale known as the ‘Echtra Fergus mac Léti’.
Fact 2: Much like other Irish fairies, Leprechauns were derived from the Tuatha de Danann.
- The Tuatha de Danann was a magical race of god-like creatures that possess supernatural powers.
Fact 3: In Celtic mythology, the Tuatha de Danann was a magical race that inhabited Ireland before the arrival of the Milesians.
- The fate of the Tuatha de Danann, after their defeat at the hands of the Milesians, was divided into 2 contrasting opinions: Some claim that the Goddess Danu sent them to live in the Land of the Young. Another theory claims that the Tuatha de Danann came to terms with the Milesians, and settled with living underground in Ireland.
Fact 4: Legend says that if you’re lucky enough to catch a Leprechaun, the Leprechaun must grant you 3 wishes in exchange for his freedom.
- You have to be very careful with what you wish though, since Leprechauns are known to be tricksters and might take your wish literally.
Fact 5: Surprisingly, all Leprechauns are male.
- In the book “ A History of Irish Fairies”, there’s no single record of a female Leprechaun and how they even reproduce. It was said that Leprechauns are the offspring of fairies who were deemed “defective”.
Fact 6: Leprechauns have a knack for shoemaking.
- Some researchers speculate that the word Leprechaun was derived from the Irish “leath bhrogan” which meant “shoemaker”.
Fact 7: The most common of all Leprechaun myths is that Leprechauns tend to hide their pots of gold at the end of the rainbow.
- Some experts suggest that the pot of gold is used as a means of tricking humans and using their greed against them.
Fact 8: Leprechauns were originally said to sport red clothes!
- An excerpt from the “Book of Legends and Stories of Ireland” published in 1831 said that the wee creatures originally dressed in red and wore a cocked hat, shoes and buckles.
Fact 9: Legend says that Leprechauns do so much dancing, they constantly wear out their shoes.
- The ‘Irish jig’ is a Celtic dance, coincidentally the name of the music you dance the ‘jig’ to, is also called “Jig”.
Fact 10: Leprechauns were originally called “Lobaircin” which meant “Small-bodied fellow”.
- Leprechauns are said to be related to the ‘clurichaun’ and the ‘far darrig’ which are both solitary creatures.
Fact 11: Several stories portray Leprechauns as mischievous creatures, however other tales say they are shy creatures that keep to themselves.
- The leprechaun is said to be a solitary creature who has a knack for making and mending shoes, and enjoys practical jokes.
Fact 12: It’s believed that a Leprechaun carries a single gold coin for every year that he’s been alive for.
- Although nobody really has any idea how old the oldest leprechaun is.
Fact 13: Some people claim to have had ‘an actual’ encounter with a Leprechaun, and say that these wee creatures are real.
- It is incredibly hard to prove or disprove these claims, but there are plenty of photographs out there where people claim to have seen a leprechaun… go and check them out and see what you think!
Fact 14: Lucky Charms cereal has a Leprechaun named “ Lucky the Leprechaun” as its mascot.
- The cereal brand’s mascot was created in 1963, and was formerly known as L.C Leprechaun.
Fact 15: Leprechauns are members of the fairy folk.
- According to Irish mythology, a Leprechaun is a type of male fairy who inhabits the island of Ireland.
Fact 16: There’s an official leprechaun colony in Portland, Oregon.
- The colony is located at Mill Ends Park and was recognized in the Guinness World Records as the world’s smallest park, measuring just two square feet.
Fact 17: Mill Ends Park was created by the journalist, Dick Fagan in 1946.
- The leader of the said Leprechaun community is Patrick O’Toole.
Fact 18: Leprechauns can be quite mischievous, but their boisterous cousins, the Clurichauns are far worse.
- Clurichauns are mythical creatures that share many characteristics with leprechauns, however, they are often described as a drunk and sour bunch.
Fact 19: Leprechauns are often considered as the ‘bankers’ and ‘cobblers’ of the fairy world.
- Leprechauns are known for their money, and apparently, they make a fair amount of it in the shoemaking business! So, the little green men pour all their energy into crafting shoes.
Fact 20: Those little green men can be quite sneaky.
- If you’re after a leprechaun’s pot of gold, the rule is, if you’re lucky enough to catch a leprechaun, you must never take your eyes off the little fellow or he’ll disappear.
Fact 21: A local businessman once claimed to have found actual remains of a real leprechaun, on Carlingford Mountain in Ireland.
- After hearing a scream near the wishing well, the man found bones, a tiny suit, and gold coins near scorched earth.
Fact 22: The Leprechauns of Carlington Mountain are protected under European law.
- The remaining 236 leprechauns that live in the caverns of Carlington Mountain were granted heritage status by the EU, and now they have their own protected sanctuary nestled in the mountain.
Fact 23: Some stories suggest that Leprechauns are tiny sea-dwellers.
- In the earliest known folktale to feature a leprechaun, Fergus mac Léti, the King of Ulster was almost dragged to sea by 3 tiny leprechauns before the King managed to catch the leprechauns and was granted 3 wishes.
Fact 24: Leprechauns might have a divine heritage.
- Some sources say leprechauns are derivatives of the Irish deity Lugh, who was the god of the sun and of arts and crafts.
Fact 25: The term Leprechaun literally means “small body.”
- In John and Caitlin Matthews’ book “The Element Encyclopedia of Magical Creatures,” the leprechaun legend can be traced back to 18th-century tales of water spirits called “luchorpán” whose name translates to “small body”.
Fact 26: You get to dress up as a Leprechaun while running a marathon for charity.
- In March, there are marathons all over Ireland that encourage the participants to dress like leprechauns to help raise money for charity, while getting into the St. Patrick’s Day spirit!
Fact 27: You can catch yourself a Leprechaun using a DIY Leprechaun trap.
- To lure the little green men, all you really need is a shoebox and something shiny to put inside.
Fact 28: According to Irish folklore, Leprechauns can only grow up to 3 feet in height.
- J.R.R. Tolkien’s hobbits are even taller!
Fact 29: Much like their winged fairy cousins, Leprechauns have a distinctive sound associated with them.
- They say you’ll know that a Leprechaun is near when you hear the tapping of a tiny cobbler hammer, as if they’re driving nails into shoes.
Fact 30: W.B Yeats’ collection of Irish fairy and folk tales features William Allingham’s poem, “The Leprechaun; Or, Fairy Shoemaker”.
- The poem describes the tapping sound of the sprite:
“Lay your ear close to the hill.
Do you not catch the tiny clamour,
Busy click of an elfin hammer,
Voice of the Leprechaun singing shrill
As he merrily plies his trade?”
Fact 31: Leprechauns gives us a lesson on morality.
- Their numerous tales warn us against the dangers of greed and the folly of trying to get rich fast.
Fact 32: Leprechauns have long been regarded as a symbol for St. Patrick’s day, but its origins go way back in Irish history.
- The tradition is tied to folklore that says to avoid getting pinched by Leprechauns, a person should wear green to make himself invisible to the wee creatures.
Fact 33: According to David Russell McAnally, the leprechaun is the son of a malevolent spirit.
- He also claimed that a leprechaun’s mother is a degenerate fairy, but is not wholly good nor wholly evil.
Fact 34: The Leprechaun’s Dutch counterpart is the Kabouter.
- A Kabouter is a small gnome-like creature. Interestingly, another version of the Leprechaun is the Fenodyree which are found in the Isle of Man.
Fact 35: The University of Notre Dame’s Fighting Irish athletics department has a Leprechaun for a mascot.
- The mascot’s appearance was designed by sports artist Theodore W. Drake in 1964 for $50.
Fact 36: The horror/comedy film “Leprechaun” features a homicidal version of the little green men called Lubdan.
- Lubdan is played by the actor Warwick Davis.
Fact 37: Inhabitants of the Emerald Isle gave high regard to Leprechauns and other fairies.
- Emerald Isle is a town nestled on the Bogue Banks Island, which is part of North Carolina’s Crystal Coast.
Fact 38: Leprechaunism, also known as Donohue syndrome, is an extremely rare genetic disorder characterized by abnormal resistance to insulin.
- Affected people are somewhat likened to Leprechauns due to the disease causing them to have elfin features and a small stature.
Fact 39: The Donohue syndrome is so rare that only 50 cases have ever been reported in medical literature.
- It was first identified in 1948 by Dr. W.L. Donohue, a Canadian pathologist who wrote about it in the Journal of Pediatrics in 1954.
Fact 40: Numerous tales say Leprechauns make their homes in forests or woodlands.
- In fact, there have been accounts of people spotting the tiny creatures near fairy mounds.
Fact 41: Leprechauns may be small creatures, but they’re actually very agile and can move very fast.
- So if you want to catch one, you really need to move quietly and look hard to spot one.
Fact 42: Leprechauns tend to be grumpy and grouchy.
- These tiny green men are also quite unfriendly. It’s probably because humans are always on their tails trying to catch them and claim their gold.
Fact 43: Each Leprechaun has his very own pot of ancient gold that he guards
- They guard their pot of gold dearly and will always find cunning ways to outsmart greedy humans who are after their gold.
Fact 44: It is said that wherever Irish people exist, Leprechauns can be found in that place as well.
- Since a lot of Irish people are scattered all over the globe, Leprechauns can be found almost anywhere in the world, at any given time as well.
Fact 45: Since Leprechauns tend to wear green clothes, it’s easy for them to camouflage and blend into their surroundings.
- A Leprechaun is often described as ‘a bearded old man dressed in green, who wore buckled shoes, often with a leather apron’.
Fact 46: In 1989, a pub owner in the township of Carlingford claimed to have found clothes that belonged to a Leprechaun.
- The clothes were later put on display inside the pub.
Fact 47: Legend says that a Viking once fooled a kind and trusting Leprechaun into revealing the location of his secret treasure, which is exactly why Leprechauns tend to avoid humans.
- According to the tale, the shipwrecked Viking pretended to be ill and was taken in by a kind leprechaun to allow the human to recover. However, the Viking repaid the leprechaun’s kindness by tricking it into revealing the location of its hidden treasure which was at a beautiful garden that was protected by a magic spell.
Fact 48: A leprechaun’s pot of gold has to be as big as a Tardis to fit all of his gold inside.
- To make sure that no one will ever steal their treasure from them again, Leprechauns hid their pot of gold right at the end of the rainbow.
Fact 49: According to Irish myth, the females are always fairies and the males appear as either a leprechaun or a wood sprite.
- Like the typical fairies, leprechauns can also cast all sorts of small enchantments, but they choose to use most of their magic in an endless game of hide-and-go-seek which they play with humans.
Fact 50: You can find an entire museum in Dublin, Ireland, that’s solely dedicated to Leprechauns.
- The museum opened on March 10th, 2010, and is located on Jervis Street in Dublin, Ireland. It also claims to be the first leprechaun museum in the world.