Throughout history, Leprechauns have been portrayed in many different ways ranging from good-humoured mischief to malicious mayhem. The Leprechaun is still popular today with many green food recipes being created in its honour.
Fun Facts on The History of the Leprechaun
ORIGIN OF THE LEPRECHAUN
Though the origin of the leprechaun is cloudy in nature, this pot-o-gold hording character of Irish legend is thought to be connected to the Tuatha DÈ Danann, one of the first groups to settle the isle.
The first literary reference to leprechauns came in the Adventure of Fergus son of LÈti. Fergus, the king of Ulster, awakes to being dragged into the ocean by three leprechauns who had stolen his sword. Being wee-folk, the three are easily captured by Fergus and agree to grant him three wishes if he would release them.
Leprechauns are often depicted as child-sized elf-like beings with bright red hair and long scraggly beards. Various folk drawings may also include pointy ears. Earlier representations by songwriter Samuel Love and poet William Butler Yeats hold that leprechauns wore red, not green. The more common and recent vision of the leprechaun costume is an Irish green coat, pants and top hat with buckled shoes.
LEPRECHAUNS IN POPULAR CULTURE
The way the leprechaun is used in popular culture varies as much as any historic and literary representations have in the past. There are examples of the fighter, the trickster and the demon.
NOTRE DAME FIGHTING IRISH
The carton logo for the Notre Dame Fighting Irish shows a squat little man, fists held high with a grimace. A green and yellow hat with a shamrock sits atop his slightly balding head. He wears a green coat and pants with yellow vest and shoes. The live human mascot is usually a male of average height with green clothes.
The marshmallowy kid’s breakfast cereal started a campaign with Lucky Leprechaun in 1963. Lucky steals boxes of cereal from children. He runs away and, as the kids chase him, he repeats his famous refrain, “they’re always after me lucky charms.” The cereal combines many elements of luck and leprechauns. The marshmallow charms include rainbows, horseshoes, hearts, moons and, most appropriately to leprechauns, pots of gold and green top hats.
LEPRECHAUN, THE MOVIE
Warwick Davis plays a sinister and murderous leprechaun killing all in his path to retrieve his stolen pot of gold after ten years locked in a basement. The 1993 movie, also starring a young Jennifer Aniston, has an average rating of 4/10. This version of the leprechaun is darkly clad with black coat, hat and pants, with a plaid vest underneath.