Mythical Monday: The Lore of the Leprechaun by Mae Clair

Top ‘o the morning to you! My friend, Christina McKnight, is splashing my cover for TWELFTH SUN on her blog today. Given I’m so besotted with it, I had to make sure everyone knew it was available for another gander. If you’re interested, you can find it here.

And yes, I know St. Patrick’s Day has passed, but I couldn’t let a Mythical Monday slip by without a tip of the hat to such a momentous celebration. Enjoy a virtual green beer on me while I trot out a much beloved figure from myth.

Leprechaun Sitting on ToadstoolRemember when you were a kid, and you wanted to catch a leprechaun? If you were like me, it had nothing to do with that legendary pot of gold. What was gold to a kid? The allure was the idea of a magical wee creature who could move between worlds. Spying a leprechaun meant maybe, just maybe, the veil between everyday reality and a hidden otherworld grew thin enough to cross over. What child wouldn’t want to explore a fairytale realm where enchantment was king?

Shoemakers by trade, Leprechauns were mostly solitary, but they enjoyed a good reel with the fiddle and tin whistles at night. Kindred to the Fair Folk, they were descended from the great Tuatha Dé Danann, and squirreled their gold away in buried pots. If you were crafty enough to catch a leprechaun and kept your eye fixed on him, he’d have to reveal the location of his gold when asked. One blink, however, and he quickly vanished from sight.

When I was a kid, there was a huge open field across the street from where I lived. It backed up to the rear yards of the houses on that side and stretched the entire length of the neighborhood. It was a magical place fully of whimsy. I didn’t realize it at the time, but it was an enchanted realm all its own. There were walnut trees and wild flowers, clusters of honeysuckle and patches of sun-sweetened strawberries. When dusk settled, my friends and I gathered to watch bats launch from the tops of snarled dark trees. In the winter we donned skates and glided on frozen ground water beneath the full moon. Autumn was perfect for gathering acorns and trekking to the ‘big hill’ that sprouted from the earth like a mythical fairy mound.

Pot of GoldI never did find a leprechaun in that magical kingdom, not that I ever put any great energy into the search. I preferred to imagine one of the wee folk watching from beneath a shaded leaf or a plump toadstool. The problem with magic is that when captured, the enchantment fades. Perhaps that is why leprechauns and pots of gold only exist at the end of rainbows. Rainbows have no end.

I don’t have a drop of Irish blood in my veins – – I’m Italian and German with a smidgen of Brit mixed in – – but I think all of us feel a connection to the Emerald Isle, especially during the month of March. So whether you’re Irish (Hi, Emma!) or just honorary for the day like me, here’s hoping your day is filled with rainbows and the blessings of the wee folk.

Was there place that held magic for you as a child?

20 thoughts on “Mythical Monday: The Lore of the Leprechaun by Mae Clair

  1. Good Morning! Like you we had an open field only it was behind the homes where I grew up. One side was clear–no grass or pavement. It’s where we had dirt bike races and baseball/softball games. The other side had tall grass, trees and a giant puddle we called a lake, river or sea–whichever fit the adventure. There we went on safaris in Africa searching for magical items and running into elusive jungle cats that were really my cousin’s cats; we traveled through rainforests looking for lost treasure or explored new worlds in other dimensions or outer space. And, of course, in each adventure, we encountered magical beings.

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    • Sounds like so much fun, Alicia! I love the exotic rain forests and jungle cats 🙂 Don’t you just love the magic of childhood? I think writers never lose that,and hang onto it whenever we create. It’s like dipping into a pool and bringing all that magic we remember to the forefront. Thanks for sharing such great memories! You definitely had some fun adventures!

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  2. When I chased Leprechauns we lived in the country. Lightening bugs were our light to see those slippery critters. For us lightening bugs were faeries in their secret form so humans didn’t capture them and try to make them reveal their world’s magic door. Oh- we caught many lightening bugs- but they were safe in that form. They never had to reveal the world of Leprechauns and rainbows and all those wonderful mythical creatures. I loved running and playing all over the farm with our neighbors.

    Wonderful memory post, Mae. Thanks.

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    • What fun you must have had, Calisa! I can just imagine such wide open spaces with a farm and countryside. We chased lightning bugs too. Between bats, crickets and fireflies, twilight in the summer months was an enchanted realm. To this day I still think of lightning bus/fireflies as magical. Even though you didn’t catch any leprechauns it sounds like you had a great time chasing them! 🙂

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  3. Morning! What a wonderful job you did Mae bringing us into that old childhood playground/ field with you! Great description. In my town there’s this park that runs along a beach that connects to the ocean. It’s a special and incredible combo which gives folks visiting it so many ways to experience the beauty of the place. I’ve spent my childhood walking to it with my cousins and siblings — rolling down the hills, looking for buttercups and seashells (oh—and four-leaf clovers!), watching baseball in the summer, and begging mom or dad for dollars to spend at the hamburger stand. There was always seagulls soaring and the smell of the ocean and the voices of all the people sharing the spot. Summers– it’s the place the town would go to watch the town’s fireworks– hundreds, maybe thousands of folks sitting in the sand on the seawall, and in the grass to watch the sky light up in colors & the boom and explosions generating a chorus of oohs and ahs. We had many a picnic there, and man when a big storm was coming in or the moon was full (ack, as a young woman I used to leave my house at night and go there ALONE to ride around and look at the water, moon & waves & listen to music– really safe-NOT!)

    I don’t get there as much– but anytime I do, all of the magic, memories and beauty of the place rises up to greet me. That place will always hold a special place in my spirit. No leprechauns though, as far as I could see.

    OH– and I’ve never thought the creatures ‘cute’ anymore after watching that horrible horror movie about one back in the day!

    Happy Monday! Lovely post!

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    • What a great spot, Venice! Between the ocean,buttercups and seashells it sounds like a place to easily fall in love with. And baseball and hamburger stands? Wow, I remember those days at our own local park. I bet the water, moon and waves were gorgeous, especially if the attraction was strong enough to lure you out there alone at night! Crazy the things we did without stopping to consider what might happen. Glad it all turned out okay and one of the nasty leprechauns depicted in those awful movies didn’t make an appearance!!

      Thanks for sharing such wonderful memories!

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  4. Whenever I think of leprechauns I think of those really bad horror movies about them. They freak me out! Lol Being a child of the “monster” movie age, it’s no wonder my greatest fears are sharks, leprechauns, and hockey masks. Not sure where my fear of bees comes from though. I’m sure there’s a movie out there. 😉

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    • The SyFy channel ran a bunch of those awful Leprechaun movies yesterday. I got bits of one when flipping around the channels. I used to be able to handle monster movies a lot better than I do now–enjoying how ridiculous they were–but now the gore is over the top. And sharks? Oh yeah, Jaws still terrifies me. As for bees – – I have that same problem with bears. Definitely got to be a movie out there somewhere! 😉

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  5. Almost any open field, meadow, or orchard would rev up my imagination and I must confess, they still do! One of my favorite places to give my imagination free reign was on the family ranch, comprising 1200 beautiful acres, with the Duchesne River flowing right through the property. Huge cottonwood trees were everywhere present. During the lazy days of summer, I could lose myself there from sunup to sunrise. You should have seen all the unicorns, castles, giants, witches and fairies that lived there…

    Thanks for the post! I enjoyed it!

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    • 1200 Acres?!? OMG, Debbie you had your own magical kingdom! It sounds positively amazing! i can just imagine all the otherworldly creatures you must have encountered there. What a great place to grow up and let your imagination soar. And I’m glad to hear I’m not the only one still inspired by meadow or orchard. And let’s not forget a stormy sky! All manner of creatures and spirits reside there!

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  6. You know what I love best about your blogs, Mae? You have a gift of bringing forth all those forgotten childhood memories… but more than that, you help me remember the giddy emotions, too. Love this post. Thank you.

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    • Thanks so much, Stanalei. I really do have a passion for those magical moments from childhood–all the whimsy and wonder that is easy to overlook in today’s tech driven world. I’m glad my posts conjure memories and emotions for you. Thanks so much for checking them out and commenting!

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  7. Mae, like many others before me, I loved this post.You have such a wonderful gift with words that evoke such grand emotion.
    When I was just a wee girl, we lived in a cramped suburb with not much space, so instead of traveling outward we went upward into the trees. That’s where the magic happened for me.

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    • Hi, Cd! Trees are filled with magic. I remember an old quote…”there is magic in old oak.s” I even wrote a short story about the magic of trees (I need to dig that out and do something with it someday soon). Even without open fields, there is magic to be found if you know where to look for it. It sounds like you did. 🙂 Thanks so much for sharing!

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  8. Wonderful post, Mae!! Thanks for sharing! Books held my favorite magical place for me! I could go wherever I wished in those pages and dream whatever my hearts content! Books are still the most magical place on earth for me 🙂

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    • What a wonderful thought, Jennifer! Books are magic for me and always were. You’re right that there are so many places to escape to within their pages. They are an endless pot of gold to everyone who opens the cover. Thanks so much for dropping by and sharing! 🙂

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