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In Irish mythology, a leprechaun is a type of elf said to inhabit the island of Ireland.


The leprechaun according to folklore

Leprechauns are a class of "faerie folk" associated in Irish mythology and folklore with the Tuatha D Danann and other quasi-historical races said to have inhabited Ireland before the arrival of the Celts. Leprechauns and other creatures of Irish mythology are often associated with "faerie forts" or "faerie rings" -- often the sites of ancient (Celtic or pre-Celtic) earthworks.

The name "leprechaun" comes from the Irish Gaelic word luprachn, meaning "half-bodied": like other mythological races in the Irish tradition, leprechauns are considered to be partly real, physical, creatures and partly spirits and are not the cause of leprosi.

The leprechaun in modern popular culture

Movies, television cartoons, and commericals for the breakfast cereal Lucky Charms have popularized a specific image of leprechauns which bears scant resemblance to anything found in the cycles of Irish mythology. The modern image of a leprechaun is almost invariant: a diminutive old man, usually no larger than three feet tall, wearing a cocked hat called a tam o' shanter, leather (work) apron, woolen waistcoat, knee breeches, long stockings and silver-buckled brogues. They are always bearded and are usually pipe smokers and shoemakers. Leprechauns are often depicted wearing emerald green frock coats.

One well-known representation is the University of Notre Dame's mascot, wearing his distinctive green three-piece suit and cocked hat. The Notre Dame Leprechaun (http://und.collegesports.com/trads/nd-m-fb-mas.html) is portrayed live at university events by a student.

Other features popularly associated with leprechauns are the knowledge of the location of buried treasure, often in a crock of gold.

Many Irish people find the popularized image of a leprechaun to be little more than a series of offensive Irish stereotypes and a trivialisation of Ireland's rich and ancient mythology.

Leprechauns have also been the subject of several low budget horror movies, the only notable one being Leprechaun, starring Warwick Davis as the titular creature and featuring Jennifer Aniston in a pre-Friends role.

According to popular children's cult-fiction Artemis Fowl, by Eoin Colfer, "leprechaun" is the human representation of LEPrecon - Lower Elements Police REConnaissance, made up of elves and centaurs alike.

In Neil Gaiman's 2001 novel American Gods, a leprechaun named Mad Sweeney appears as an associate of Mr. Wednesday (Odin) and his disparate mythical allies.

The leprechaun is the emblem for the Wagga Brothers.

Harry Potter

In Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, at the Quidditch World Cup the Irish National Team Masconts are leprechauns. They're described as "tiny little bearded men with red waistcoats". According to Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them the leprechaun is found only in Ireland, up to six inches tall and green in colour. It is more intelligent than the fairy (able to speak) and less malicious than the pixie, but nevertheless mischievous. The leprechauns in the Harry Potter series "produce a realistic gold-like substance that vanishes after a few hours".

See also

fr:Leprechaun ja:レプラコーン pl:Leprechaun es:Leprechaun


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