10 BEST things you never knew about leprechauns (2024)

Leprechauns have pretty much become the unofficial ambassadors of Ireland. So, here are ten things you never knew about leprechauns.

Top 10 things you never knew about leprechauns

Everyone knows what they are, but we are sure there are plenty of things you never knew about leprechauns. Like where do they actually come from? Do they look like the ones sported at St. Patrick’s parades around the world (and every tourist shop in Ireland)?

And most important of all, do the tiny Irishmen with their big hats, green jackets, and hidden gold pots actually exist?

Read on to find out ten things you never knew about leprechauns. And should you ever meet one of these magical creatures from Irish folklore in person, make sure to send a photo our way!

Ireland Before You Die’s short facts about leprechauns:

  • Traditionally, leprechauns have been depicted in Irish folklore as small and old men and they are often in green clothing and donning a red beard. 
  • Irish legend and folklore tells the tale that leprechauns make and repair shoes, and are known for exceptional craftsmanship. 
  • Leprechauns are also said to be the guardians of hidden treasure. It is said if you catch one, it may lead you to a pot of gold which they bury at the end of the rainbow. 
  • Leprechauns are also known for being elusive and their trickery. For example, it is said if one is captured, they will grant you three wishes in exchange for their release. 
  • The Irish legend of leprechauns still holds a place in Irish hearts and minds today, as it has become a central symbol of St. Patrick’s Day.

10. Leprechauns are fairies – magical creatures

Leprechauns are fairies.
Credit: pixnio.com

Most of us picture fairies as long-haired and dreamy, possibly with wings and a magic wand, but believe it or not, leprechauns are part of the fairy gang.

According to Irish folklore, the creatures, typically small in size and prone to mischief, have lived in Ireland long before the first human stepped foot on the Emerald Isle.

However, leprechauns were later forced to live underground and their trademark is a pot of gold typically found at the end of a rainbow.   

READ MORE: Become an expert in this field and read IB4UD’s article – Everything you need to know about the Irish leprechaun

9. They owe their name to their tiny size – it originates from middle Irish

One of the things you never knew about leprechauns is that they owe their name to their tiny size.
Credit: pixabay.com / LillyCantabile

There are different theories regarding where the name leprechaun comes from, but the most popular belief is that it originates from the Middle Irish word lūchorpān—with meaning “small body.”

8. Leprechauns don’t actually wear green – one of the biggest myths

Leprechauns don't actually wear green.
Credit: pixabay.com / Clker-Free-Vector-Images

Every kid can identify a leprechaun by its green clothes, red beard, and derby hat. But according to Legends and Stories of Ireland from 1831, the fairies dress in red!

The author, Irish novelist Samuel Lover, describes them as wearing “a red square-cut coat, richly laced with gold, and a cocket hat.”

So where do the green jacket and pants come from? While some believe leprechauns sport different colours according to their regions (including green), others joke the signature green simply matched the Irish shamrock better.

7. You can’t ever trust them – mischievous creatures

One of the things you never knew about leprechauns is that you can never trust them.
Credit: pixabay.com / kissu

Leprechauns look friendly and jovial and serve as unofficial ambassadors to Ireland these days. But you are still better off not laying your life in their hands.

Legend says that leprechauns are sneaky trickster characters that should never be trusted, and they are pretty grumpy too.

Try to capture one or steal their hidden pot of gold, and they will play their tricks on you. Don’t say we didn’t warn you!

6. Leprechauns are always male – no evidence of a female counterpart

Leprechauns are always male.
Credit: pixabay.com / DtheDelinquent

Ever wondered why all leprechauns are described and pictured as elderly men with beards? The somewhat sad reason, and one of the things you never knew about leprechauns, is there simply are no female leprechauns.

According to ancient books like Fairy Legends and Traditions from the South of Ireland by Thomas Crofton Croker (published in 1825), there is no evidence of a female counterpart.

We are not quite sure how the leprechauns managed to survive over all those years, but our guess is fairies just don’t rely on traditional procreation (or they simply live forever).

KICK OFF your knowledge with Ireland Before You Die’s Beginner’s Guide to leprechauns: history, origins and legacy

5. You can hear them hammer shoes – hard-working

One of the things you never knew about leprechauns is that they are shoe makers.
Credit: pixabay.com / AnnaliseArt

They might each have a pot of gold, but that doesn’t save leprechauns from money jobs. Irish mythology says they are humble shoemakers.

If you are near one of them and listen closely, you might even hear the tapping sound of their tiny hammers, driving nails into the shoes.

The bad news is that they only make shoes for fellow fairies, so should your pair be close to falling apart, you still need to find a shoemaker in the human world.

4. There’s a leprechaun colony in Portland, Oregon – not just in Ireland

There is a leprechaun colony is Portland, Oregan.
Credit: Flickr / Ian Sane

While we love to sport our leprechauns, especially on St Patrick’s Day, not all of the tiny men actually hold Irish passports. In fact, there’s an official colony across the Atlantic in the USA, specifically in the city of Portland, Oregon.

In 1948, a journalist called Dick Fagan noticed a small circular hole in the concrete, dug up — or so he said — by a leprechaun.

Fagan added flowers and a little sign declaring Mill Ends Park to be “the world’s smallest park,” and then featured it in his column.

On St. Patrick’s Day in 1976, it officially became a park. While nobody has ever actually spotted a leprechaun resident there, the locals keep taking good care of the garden.

3. Their infamous cousin is a troublemaking drunk – don’t cross a clurichaun

One of the things you never knew about leprechauns is that their cousins are drunks.
Credit: commons.wikimedia.org

One of the things you never knew about leprechauns is about their drunk cousins.

Leprechauns are busy working most of their time, but this can’t be said of all their family members. The clurichauns, another type of fairy character closely related to them, are well known for their love of drinking.

They are said to haunt wine cellars, pubs, and breweries during the night. Some experts believe the troublemakers were originally leprechauns that got so drunk one day that they magically turned into a whole new species.

SEE: The National Leprechaun Museum: how does it stack up?

2. Catching a leprechaun will grant you three wishes – not an easy feat

Catching a leprechaun will grant you three wishes.
Credit: pixabay.com / Leamsii

We can’t lie: it won’t be easy to catch one of the little Irishmen. But if you do, you can call yourself really lucky. The legend goes that if you manage to get hold of a leprechaun, he will grant you three wishes to be released again. For that reason, the leprechaun is considered a symbol of luck, for example, in some online games like Lucky Leprechaun.

Don’t be too greedy, though, and think carefully. While you certainly won’t end up in a bottle like in “Aladdin,” the leprechaun could jinx you to have bad luck for the rest of your days.

READ MORE: Check out here the record in the Guinness World Records for the largest gathering of people dressed as leprechauns

1. Leprechauns are a protected species under EU law protected since 2009

One of the things you never knew about leprechauns is that they are protected under EU law.
Credit: Facebook / @nationalleprechaunhunt

Back in 1989, P. J. O’Hare claimed to have found the remains of a leprechaun in Carlingford, County Louth. The skeleton quickly fell to dust, but O’Hare kept the little man’s clothes and famously displayed them in his pub.

Thanks to that incident and a group of firm believers, leprechauns have been protected by a European Directive since 2009.

According to the lobbyists, only 236 leprechauns survived on the Emerald Isle, and all of them live in Carlingford today. Fans gather there every year for the so-called Leprechaun Hunt.

Even though this is one of the most interesting things you never knew about leprechauns, we are still waiting to see the first leprechaun selfie, though, so keep your phones ready just in case.

DID YOU KNOW that a survey revealed one third of Irish people believe leprechauns exist?

Your questions answered about things you never knew about leprechauns

Read our article on things you never knew about leprechauns but still have some questions? Then we have you covered! Here, we have put together the most frequently asked questions on this topic.

What is a female leprechaun called?

There is no such thing as a female leprechaun. The leprechauns are regarded as a type of fairy, so their female counterparts would be fairies.

What do leprechauns keep hidden?

Leprechauns are famous for keeping hidden their pot of gold, which you may find at the end of the rainbow.

What should you never do if you see a leprechaun?

It is said that you should never take your eyes off a leprechaun when you see one, as they will disappear if you do!

NEXT: Learn about the ‘luck of the Irish’ saying and the role the leprechauns had to play in it

Find Your Dream Hotel in Ireland

On the hunt for the ultimate hotel for your Irish adventure? Explore a curated selection ranging from the charming heritage of boutique accommodations in Dublin's vibrant heart to the tranquil luxury of rural retreats and the captivating coastal vistas. Start your search below to find the perfect stay with our trusted hotel partner.



Get featured on Ireland Before You Die

Do you want to get your Irish business more online exposure? Especially to those interested in travelling the best places in Ireland? Then why not get a dedicated feature on Ireland Before You Die. Find out more here.

Related Posts

Disclosure

Ireland Before You Die is supported by its audience. When you purchase through links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission. Learn more

Send this to a friend