by Dathan O’Paterno
Leprechauns. You don’t hear too much about them except now, in the middle of March, when the Chicago River turns green, parades fill the TVs, Shamrock Shakes make their yearly appearance, and moms boil up the usual dose of corned beef and cabbage. It seems everyone is Irish on St. Patrick’s Day.
But what do we really know about Leprechauns? Are they real or just a figment of some Irish storyteller’s drunken imagination? Where did they come from? What do they do? What are they like? Where (if anywhere) is their famed pot of gold? Do they all have beards? Are there any girl Leprechauns?
Here is the untold story.
Leprechauns are not exactly smaller versions of us. They are not human, although they have several human characteristics. As everyone knows, they live in Ireland. But they weren’t originally from there. Many generations ago, they lived close to the lands where Elves, Dwarfs, and Hobbits all resided. All three peoples intermingled quite peacefully; they traded, partied together, and even created alliances in order to fight off wolves and other dangerous predators.
Some of these alliances inevitably resulted in intermarriage; although these episodes were embarrassing and kept hush-hush, they were frequent enough that over a span of several generations, most people accepted them. Naturally (although surprisingly to all three races), these intermarriages resulted in the sprouting of a new race that we today call leprechauns.
While early leprechauns were exceptionally friendly, they tended to live on their own, seeming to have little craving for the company of others. They were excellent artisans; although they possessed little culinary skill, they were quite adept at creating music and dance. They seemed to be very light-hearted folk, revealing few cares or worries.
However, they did have a clearly defined moral sense. For example, they were committed to helping the poor—they were inclined toward living as a pre-dated Robin Hood clan. Furthermore, they were highly skilled at craftworking, especially at items that aided and abetted deception.
Because all the various races knew their skill and friendliness, a large group of young leppies (as they were known to other folk) were invited by none other than Santa Claus to work in his workshop. And so a good portion of the Leprechaun tribe emigrated to the North Pole. For generations, the leppies and Elves coexisted peacefully in Santa’s working crew, with the more technically savvy leppies forging and building what the creative and inspired Elves dreamed of. Every year, they piggy-backed on each other’s Christmas spirit with buoyant joy and playfulness.
But alas, there were a few leppies whose actions were a bit too playful. Whether it was their natural tendency toward troublemaking or the harsh cold of the arctic winters, some could not help themselves. No one knows their true names–these were lost in the only book that survived until a later chapter in their history–but we do know what they did.
One Christmas season, when the weather had already become wretchedly frigid, a small detachment of leppies played a practical joke on the elvish chief, Bontilith. One night, after all the elves were soundly asleep, these particularly naughty leppies despoiled their elf cousins of all of the years’ toys that had been stored. They hid them away in their own private cave storage in Doringray. After securing the store of toys, they returned back to their barracks, laughing late into the night.
When they awoke, they crept into the shop, where they found the elves dumbstruck and severely forlorn. The leppies couldn’t contain their laughter. However, no amount of private mirth could lessen the elves’ dismay. When one of them determined to report directly to Santa Claus that this Christmas would be ruined, the leppies were forced to admit to Bontilith what had happened. Although elves are generally not prone to anger or resentment, he was none too happy.
Moments after the confession, a report over the loudspeaker blasted “Here this: a terrible storm has resulted in an avalanche at Doringray Residence Cave. The cave has collapsed.” The leppies were without words—a phenomenon quite unusual for them. When the wreckage was discovered, every single toy the leppies had hidden had been destroyed. Santa himself was devastated; he simply could not get enough toys made and delivered by Christmas.
Thankfully, the leppies fessed up and took full responsibility. Santa was, perhaps surprisingly, less than merciful. He banished them from the North Pole forever. From here, the leppies traveled from North Pole to Greenland, then from Greenland to Iceland. But no one wanted to harbor these strange folk. Eventually, they made their way to the island of Ireland.
They took up residence in the Northern parts and wooded sections in the south of the island. For many years, they did very little but show their remorse with tears and drowning in the local bottle. But after a while they banded together again and dedicated their lives and their children’s lives to righting the wrong they had committed. From now on, they decided, they would steal things only for a purpose–to give them to the poor.
And after many meetings, councils, and summits—some conducted while sober, some not so sober— they devised a scheme. They made up a very clever (albeit ridiculous) story about a rainbow that had a pot of gold at the end of it. The ruse was that they would tell this story to whoever would listen–well, to anyone who was rich and would listen. To these unfortunate wealthy folk, they promised to escort them to the renowned rainbow, where they could partake of the pot of gold and become wealthier than they had ever imagined.
But, like any gimmick, the leppies insisted on needed some gold up front as “prepayment” for their services. And so they eagerly accepted gold, toys, and other goodies from their unsuspecting victims.
The leppies combined all of their spoils, consistent with their nature. Soon enough, they were richer than all the world’s kings and princes put together.
Of course, they never quite led anyone to the rainbow or the pot of gold.
So if you ever meet a leppie, do not be deceived by his friendly nature or promises. He (or she) is only trying to get your goodies. Even though they would more than likely go to someone who needs them more than you! Simply buy the leppie a beer and remember that the only pot of gold at the end of a rainbow is in fairy tales.