Let’s talk Leprechauns!
In Irish folklore, the Leprechaun is said to be a solitary creature, a three-foot-tall grizzled figure who wears a fanciful green coat and top hat and whose principal occupation is cobbling shoes. Leprechauns can live for hundreds of years, are said to enjoy making mischief and are rumored to have a hidden pot of gold at the end of a rainbow. They smell of Irish Spring deodorant. Just kidding on that last one.
Leprechauns live burrowed deep in underground caves with entrances disguised as rabbit holes or hollow tree trunks. They diligently avoid humans who seek to capture them so as to be granted 3 wishes in barter for the Leprechaun’s freedom.
That whole thing about pinching people who don’t wear green on St. Patrick’s Day? That’s because tradition says wearing green makes you invisible to Leprechauns, who like to pinch anyone they can see. Similar behavior can be seen in New York Governors.
Actually, the notion that Leprechauns dress in green is fairly recent. Prior to the 20th century, it was generally held that Leprechauns wore red, not green. Even Yeats said so and who are we to question good old W.B.?
Leprechaun tales make for entertaining and imaginative reading – but could they all be based in more fact than fiction? About 30 years ago, a “Leprechaun suit” was discovered on Carlingford mountain in County Louth, Ireland alongside some small bones and a collection of four gold coins.
Sceptics saw it as part of an elaborate hoax, concocted by bored jokers after one too many pints of Guinness. But a handful believers, known in Gaelic as “The Gullible” (j/k) saw it as confirmation that there might just be an element of truth supporting centuries of folklore.
The Head Gullible was Kevin Woods, supposedly Ireland’s last “Leprechaun Whisperer.” If you want to read all the deets about the Last of The Real Leprechauns, check out this story in the Irish Post!
There are no female Leprechauns which is probably why the males live so long. On the other hand, Leprechauns are described as grouchy, untrusting, and peevish creatures which may be due to the absence of female company. You be the judge.
The four most famous Leprechauns in the world are found in the USA. You can probably name them all: the Lucky Charms breakfast cereal spokesman, the official mascot of the Fighting Irish sports teams at the University of Notre Dame, the vengeful star of the eponymous horror film, and the symbol of the Boston Celtics professional basketball team.
“Lucky” is the Leprechaun on the box of Lucky Charms cereal. First introduced to supermarket shelves in the mid-1960s, sugar-packed Lucky Charms boasted something that no other cereal at the time could offer: tiny marshmallow bits shaped like moons, hearts, stars and four-leafed clovers. “Magically delicious!”
For a half century, the General Mills cereal ads have used the same old shtick. Lucky uses his magical powers to evade annoyingly aggressive children trying to steal his Lucky Charms. What you may not know is that each of those little marshmallow tidbits, (they are technically called “marbits”) has a name and provides Lucky with a special ability.
Even odder is that the singing group Pentatonix created a special song “Evolution of Lucky Charms”, in which the five-member vocal group extols the virtues of the multicolored marshmallow marbits, including “hourglasses, rainbows, and tasty red balloons” while taking a musical journey through all the various Lucky Charms jingles from over the years. Here, you can have a listen to this great waste of significant a capella talent:
Lucky Charms has even attained a bit of status as a “woke” brand after General Mills allowed as how the rainbow depicted on the packages was in support of gay pride. “If you’re lucky enough to be different, we’re celebrating you,” said the Company.
They could have said, “If you seek affirmation of your value as a human being from a cartoon character based on a evil mythical figure who spends his time hiding cereal, we’re sincerely worried about you.” I guess that wouldn’t roll off the tongue so easily, eh?
By the way, if you want more information about the history and lore of Lucky Charms, check out this website: The Untold Truth Of Lucky Charms. Be warned, like Leprechauns, the story is interesting and goes on forever. Some people have way too much free time on their hands.
Quite the opposite of the Lucky Charms image, in Irish folklore there is nothing fortunate about encountering a Leprechaun. Throughout Irish lore they are devious, nasty and will take your luck away forever. The reality is that far from being good luck, they are exceptionally BAD luck!
Speaking of grim Leprechauns, my fave is the headliner in the 1993 American horror slasher-film “Leprechaun” which, despite being cheesier than a fondue factory in Gruyères, managed to draw enough box office to justify a few sequels, the last one being (and I’m not making this up) “Leprechaun 4: In Space”.
The most remarkable part of this very bad movie is that it marked Jennifer Anniston’s film debut! It has also been called Anniston’s worst movie, ever.
The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette critic Ron Weiskind called the film “incompetent,” thoroughly trashing the film’s acting, lack of suspense, and production values. He concluded, “Forget about the proverbial pot of gold. The movie Leprechaun is a crock.” It is said that to this day, Jen is more embarrassed by this film than by all the Brad Pitt jokes ever told.
Max, being a Maltese, knows nothing about these matters. But he may have a little Leprechaun in him. He’s been known to be a tad grouchy, untrusting, and peevish from time to time. I wonder if he likes marshmallow, erm, marbits?
Finally, here’s a tip for your next visit to Ireland.
Find a crowded pub out where the sheep roam or on the side streets in one of the industrial towns. March in wearing an Hawaiian shirt, shorts and flip flops and push your way to the bar. When you spot the barman, call loudly and ask that he whip up your favorite drink, an Irish Car Bomb and make it snappy.
As he drops the shot of Irish Cream and whisky into your glass of stout, let everyone in the pub know you are an American whose grandfather was half-Irish and you are there to research the cultural phenomena of your ancestors before they were fortunate enough to arrive in the States, with special emphasis on Leprechauns, shillelaghs, “St. Paddy,” and why the Irish drink so much.
Trust me; it will be a vacation you’ll not soon forget. Meantime, Happy St. Patrick’s Day!
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