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The Irish Leprechaun
The legend of the Leprechaun is well known in Ireland. They are easily recognisable from their small stature; no more than three feet tall and their costume of a green suit, green hat and buckled shoes.The Leprechaun is a type of mischevous fairy who lives in secluded areas of the Irish countryside. The Leprechauns, or 'Little Folk' were originally known as cobblers, making shoes for other fairies. They were expert at their job and commanded a high price for their craftsmanship. Over time, the 'Little Folk' would earn a lot of money, which at the time was paid in gold coins. Having little on which to spend their money, they would hoard their gold and as legend has it, they kept their gold in a cooking pot so as to fool would-be robbers from the human world. The Leprechaun's pot of gold was well known amongst the human world and attempts would be made to find and steal the gold.
The Modern Leprechaun
Defending the Gold
The Leprechauns were well aware of the humans' efforts to find and steal the gold but first the human would have to capture the Leprechaun. It didn't help that the secret location of the pot of gold was revealed by a rainbow; the location being where the rainbow met the earth. In order to keep the gold, the Leprechauns developed a game-plan to defend it. Being fairies, they were in possession of magical powers and this included the ability to grant wishes to humans. The Little People were well aware of the fickle nature of humans and decided that if they granted humans THREE wishes, it would totally confuse them and enable them to escape with their gold. That is where the legend of the Leprechaun being able to grant three wishes came from, however, humans would usually find it impossible, due to fickleness and greed, to make three wishes that would eventually benefit them. More often than not, the three wishes would be contradictory to each other, leaving the humans at best, no better off and at worst, in a worse position. So the Little People never actually lost their gold. That is where the saying 'The Luck of the Irish' came from; from the Little People.
Today, Leprechauns are most celebrated sround St. Patick's Day (17th March). Every St. Patrick's Day parade has at least one Leprechaun flaunting their pot of gold. If you are ever in Ireland, keep your eyes open, you never know if a real one may appear in front of you. They usually appear at night, especially if you have been partaking of a glass or two of the Uisce Baithe, or whiskey to the uninitiated!