Episode 73: Solitary Fae: Leprechaun
The folklore of leprechauns in a nutshell, how I reimagined them for my writing, and this faery translated to Afrikaans.
Written and narrated by Ronel Janse van Vuuren.
Copyright 2023 Ronel Janse van Vuuren — All rights reserved.
Learn more about leprechauns in folklore here.
Get the transcript here.
Music: Secrets by David Fesliyan (FesliyanStudios.com) and Dramatic Heartbeat by FesliyanStudios.com
You’re listening to the Faeries and Folklore podcast by Ronel.
I’m dark fantasy author Ronel Janse van Vuuren. With nearly a decade of digging around in dusty folklore books, researching creatures of imagination that ignited my curiosity, I’m here to share the folklore in a nutshell and how I reimagined it for my writing in an origin of the fae.
This is the Faeries and Folklore podcast.
Hi, I’m your host Ronel Janse van Vuuren. You can just call me Ronel. In today’s episode, we’re continuing our exploration of the fae realm.
This episode is brought to you by my Dark Court Sisters book series. Available in ebook, paperback and audiobook. Three sisters. Three destinies. Three ways to destroy the world. Go to ronelthemythmaker.com/darkcourtsistersseries for more.
You can now support my time in producing the podcast (researching, writing and everything else involved) by buying me a coffee. This can be a once-off thing, or you can buy me coffee again in the future at your discretion. Go to buymeacoffee.com/ronel to support me.
We’re continuing our exploration of Solitary Fae.
Today’s Faery: Leprechauns
Folklore in a nutshell by Ronel
Of all the Irish fairies, the Leprechaun is the most well-known of them all. This fairy drinks beer, is seen with a four-leaf clover, wears green clothes and a top hat. Oh, and he has a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.
But that might just be a modern interpretation. Some feel the leprechaun to be the fascinating frontman for Irish folklore while others feel that he is an appropriated symbol plundered of all character and truth in Ireland and abroad. Maybe the truth lies somewhere in between.
Leprechauns are antisocial fae who prefer celebrating the end of the work day by drinking, dancing and feasting. This is when they like to play practical jokes on humans. The only way to protect yourself against them, is to carry an iron horseshoe. Not only does iron repel fairies, leprechauns love horses to distraction so just the idea of a horse will draw attention away from you. Maybe I’m a leprechaun: I love horses to the point of distraction, too.
This fairy trickster is also a cobbler. You’ll find that leprechauns always wear awesome shoes. Even its name can be traced back to meaning “half brogue” meaning he has one shoe, probably meaning you can always see him working on a shoe. His name in an alternate spelling, means “sprite”. Between his occupation and his size, the tale of The Elves and the Shoemaker by the Brothers Grimm feels like it might actually be about leprechauns.
Though it is sometimes believed that there is only one leprechaun, usually guarding a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow, there are in fact several. In the medieval tale of Adventure of Fergus, Son of Léti three leprechauns attempt to drag Fergus onto the ocean to drown him. A practical joke, of course. He then captures them and they agree to grant him three wishes if he were to release them.
As for always wearing green: that is something invented in the 20th century. Before that, leprechauns preferred red. W.B. Yeats supports this by saying that solitary fairies wore red as green was reserved for the nobility of their kind.
Leprechauns are quick-witted and very smart. They will do anything to evade capture. Humans are always after them for either the wishes or the gold.
For the most part, they are seen as old, wrinkled and short.
There’s a museum in Dublin about mythical Ireland called the Leprechaun Museum. Add that to my wish list of places to visit!
And now for my interpretation of the fae in an Origin of the fae: Leprechaun
Leprechauns have luck magic, meaning they can change the luck of someone by just being there. They can change their size and appearance at will. They are obsessed with gold and keep it buried in crocks inside hollow trees. They also live in hollow trees. Leprechauns prefer to live down to expectations, running around drunk in miniature size in green outfits playing pranks on anyone unfortunate enough to cross their path.
In secret, they run the fashion footwear business. Yes, they control what is designed, made and wore by humans and fae alike. That is why they are so rich: selling shoes is a lucrative business.
Red is their favourite colour, besides gold.
These solitary fae prefer to stay out of Court business. They live in the mortal realm wherever they can – they are in the shoe business, after all, and living in basements of shoe factories, closets of fashion designers, or storage rooms of shoe shops is a small price to pay to run the footwear world. Though getting out into nature is part of their vacation plans. Leprechauns believe in working hard and taking well-deserved vacations.
They love horses, though unlike what folklore suggests, they aren’t distracted by them in the least. Except when they wear shoes…
As a little bonus, let’s look at this faery translated to Afrikaans: Ierse Aardmannetjie
I hope that you’ve enjoyed this episode of the faeries and folklore podcast and that you’ve learned something new about faeries.
Remember that you can get a transcript of this episode in the description. If you’re new to the podcast, why not go and grab your free copy of Unseen, the second book in the Faery Tales series, on my website ronelthemythmaker.com? Loads of folklore, magic and danger await! Take care!
You can now support my time in producing the podcast (researching, writing and everything else involved) by buying me a coffee. This can be a once-off thing, or you can buy me coffee again in the future at your discretion.
Want a taste of my writing? Sign up to my newsletter and get your free copy of Unseen, Faery Tales #2.
No-one writes about the fae like Ronel Janse van Vuuren.