The Origins of Leprechauns: Where Did They Come From

Updated on March 21, 2018
cvanthul profile image

Cristina is a Florida native and Realtor by trade. She enjoys writing about travel, real estate, and any other topics she finds interesting.

Origin of Leprechauns

A leprechaun counts his gold in this engraving from 1900.
A leprechaun counts his gold in this engraving from 1900. | Source

Leprechauns are most often thought of as those little men who hoard money and hide their pot of gold at the end of a rainbow. They are sometimes naughty, sometimes a little evil, many times a bit mean. It is said that anyone who finds that pot of gold and can trick it away from the leprechaun keeps the gold; however, leprechauns are very smart, and the human usually ends up the one who is tricked. The classic version wears a three-cornered hat, has pointed ears, green eyes, wiry red hair and beard, and wears green. They are rotund and have a prankster’s sense of humor.

Stories abound as to the origin of the leprechaun. The word leprechaun comes from the Irish “leipreachán" or "lucharachán” which comes from the Middle Irish "luchrapán, lupra(c)cán,” which is originally from the Old Irish ”lúchorp(án)” meaning "small body."

A leprechaun, or "clurichaun".
A leprechaun, or "clurichaun". | Source

Leprechauns in Text

In Dekker's Text: The leprechaun first appears in texts in the 17th century as “lubrican” in Dekker’s The New Whore:

“As for your Irish Lubrican, that spirit
Whom by preposterous charms thy lust has raised.”

Where leprechauns came from before that is really anyone’s guess, and there is plenty of speculation on the subject.

The Fairy Shoe-Maker: The Oxford English Dictionary lists one of possible origins of the word as “leath bhrogan” which means shoe-maker. In Ireland, leprechauns are often fairy shoe-makers. Traditional portraits show leprechauns holding or working on shoes, and legend says they are excellent cobblers, making shoes for many different faerie communities.

Little Stooping Lugh: Another speculative origin comes from Irish mythology from the Tuatha De Danann, a race of mythological creatures said to be “the peoples of the goddess Danann”. The Tuatha De Danann were once human beings but have been immortalized over the centuries. Lugh was the High King, the great Sun God, patron of the arts and crafts, and an important god in the ancient pagan Celtic religions. In FAIRIES & FOLKTALES OF IRELAND, Yeats says the Tuatha De Danann were gods and followers of the gods of pagan Ireland. When they were no longer worshipped, they became small in size.

A leprechaun is shown crafting shoes in this engraving made in 1858.
A leprechaun is shown crafting shoes in this engraving made in 1858. | Source

Their Association With Gold

Leprechauns became associated with gold through a story dating back to the Danes’ invasion of Ireland. Legend states the Danes left the leprechauns in charge of their plundered wealth, which the little men put in crocks and pots and have hidden throughout Ireland. Leprechauns carry two pouches. One holds a silver shilling – a magical coin that returns to the pouch each time it is paid out. The other holds a single gold coin which the leprechaun uses to try to extricate himself from difficult situations. Once the gold coin has been paid out, it usually turns to leaves or ash. A leprechaun will reveal the location of his gold if questioned and if the person questioning him keeps an eye on him. Looking away from the leprechaun guarantees his disappearance as they can vanish in an instant.

Interestingly, leprechauns have never been the subject of myths themselves but rather one of the supporting characters. They are not the hero of a story but a helper (or hindrance) to the hero. Leprechauns are closely related to the cluricaun who steal and borrow nearly everything and are much surlier than leprechauns.

With spring rains approaching, keep an eye out for rainbows.  This and the sound of a cobbler’s hammer will give away the location of a leprechaun, and where there’s a leprechaun there is sure to be leprechaun’s gold.

Questions & Answers

    © 2010 Cristina Vanthul

    Comments

      0 of 8192 characters used
      Post Comment

      • profile image

        jaylen 

        6 months ago

        what year did you find this

      • profile image

        ??????? 

        8 months ago

        why do they come

      • profile image

        sup 

        8 months ago

        nice on LOL ;)

      • profile image

        carlonbow 

        3 years ago

        i actualaly found the end of the r

      • profile image

        matt 

        3 years ago

        OMG you are so smart

      • profile image

        alice 

        4 years ago

        ive only seen real leprachuns as midgits or children in costumes

      • cvanthul profile imageAUTHOR

        Cristina Vanthul 

        4 years ago from Florida

        I haven't found any real leprechaun photos or videos so I'd have to say, probably not.

      • profile image

        Bob j 

        4 years ago

        Have people caught a leprechauns face on tape

      • cvanthul profile imageAUTHOR

        Cristina Vanthul 

        4 years ago from Florida

        I don't think anyone really knows, mary-anna. They are incredibly difficult to catch and can disappear quickly if you don't keep your eyes on them.

      • profile image

        mary-anna reggin 

        4 years ago

        hi does anyone know where the leprechaun lives?

      • profile image

        Trudy 

        5 years ago

        BELIEVE!!!!!

      • profile image

        cat 

        5 years ago

        stupid little men!

      • profile image

        hftfth 

        6 years ago

        lol omgh i wave this

      • cvanthul profile imageAUTHOR

        Cristina Vanthul 

        6 years ago from Florida

        LOL, Mike. Yes, very much like politicians. Thanks!

      • profile image

        mikeq107 

        6 years ago

        "Interestingly, leprechauns have never been the subject of myths themselves but rather one of the supporting characters. They are not the hero of a story but a helper (or hindrance) to the hero. Leprechauns are closely related to the cluricaun who steal and borrow nearly everything and are much surlier than leprechauns."

        so what your saying is they are like politicans LOL

        Great read and coming from leprachuanville i have to agree with your reserch!!!

        Mike :0)

      • Doc Snow profile image

        Doc Snow 

        7 years ago from Camden, South Carolina

        Fun hub!

      • profile image

        BenjaminB 

        8 years ago

        Enjoyed reading this very much cvanthul.

      • cvanthul profile imageAUTHOR

        Cristina Vanthul 

        8 years ago from Florida

        Thanks, dude. Some of my favorites as well.

      • hypnodude profile image

        Andrew 

        8 years ago from Italy

        Very good hub, well written and with many information. Do I have to say that they are my favorite faeries? Rated up and stumbled.

      • cvanthul profile imageAUTHOR

        Cristina Vanthul 

        8 years ago from Florida

        LOL! Thanks for sharing your leprechaun story, Tony. I'm sure Seamus is only frightening because he's so far from Ireland... ok, well, maybe that's why!

        Cris

      • tonymac04 profile image

        Tony McGregor 

        8 years ago from South Africa

        Even though we are very far from Ireland we have a leprechaun living under the monstera in our garden. Not too sure how he got there! His name is Seamus and he frightens the children in the neighbourhood! Well, that's my story and I'm sticking to it, LOL!

        Thanks for an interesting read.

        Love and peace

        Tony

      working

      This website uses cookies

      As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, holidappy.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

      For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: https://holidappy.com/privacy-policy#gdpr

      Show Details
      Necessary
      HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
      LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
      Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
      AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
      HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
      HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
      Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
      CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
      Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
      Features
      Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
      Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
      Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
      Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
      Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
      VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
      PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
      Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
      MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
      Marketing
      Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
      Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
      Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
      Statistics
      Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
      ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
      Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)