9 things to know about leprechauns

DENVER - It's Saint Patrick's Day, which means you need to be on the watch for leprechauns.

And the way to do that is to know what to look out for...

1. They're short but smart

Leprechauns stand between 2 and 3 feet tall, and are "highly intelligent, and will do anything to evade capture from humans," yourirish.com said.

They can also live for hundreds of years, which gives them plenty of time to practice their cunning.

2.They're not bums

Unlike most faeries, leprechauns are associated with a trade - shoe-making, yourirish.com noted. 

Probably because they're thought to dance so often that they always require new shoes, the site continued.

Scholars have even suggested the word "leprechaun" came from "leath brogan," meaning shoemaker, according to www.celtic-weddingrings.com.

You can tell a leprechaun is in the area if you hear the sound of a cobbler's hammer, tapping away as it drives nails into shoes, Live Science said.

3. They're not to be trusted

Leprechauns are primarily tricksters in Irish folklore, Live Science reported.

One tale related by folklorist Carol Rose was about a man who got a leprechaun to lead him to where his treasure was. The man marked a tree with a red garter to remind him of the spot, then got a spade to dig for the treasure. 

But when he came back, every tree in the area had a red garter.

(On the other hand, would you take well to someone who was after your gold? Not entirely sure the leprechaun is in the wrong here.)

4. They're lone male wolves

The image of the leprechaun has been solidified as "entirely male and solitary," as the 1825 publication of the book Fairy Legends noted, according to Live Science.

Makes sense as shoe-making is a job traditionally tied to men, it continued. 

5. Wearing green is a relatively new stereotype

Irish folklore had them clad in red clothes with tri-cornered hats, as they were described in Irish novelist Samuel Lover's 1831 Legends and Stories of Ireland, www.celtic-weddingrings.com said.

6. They're a protected species

You won't find them on WWF's list of endangered species, but leprechauns are protected under European law.

Only 236 leprechauns are still living in Ireland on the Foy mountain at Slate Rock, according to IrishCentral.

7. They may be amphibious

If you thought it safe to go back into the water...

Leprechaun legends can be traced back to tales of water creatures called "luchorpán" from the 8th century, according to www.celtic-weddingrings.com.

The first time they were mentioned was in "The Saga of Fergus mac Léti," which focused on Fergus, who was  The King of Ulster, IrishCentral said in another post.

Fergus fell asleep on a beach, only to awaken to these water sprites trying to drag him into the seas. Instead, Fergus caught them and made them grant him three wishes for their freedom.

Which leads us into number eight....

8. They can grant three wishes, if you catch them.

In case that lamp you found doesn't have a genie in it, you might try for a leprechaun instead.

Fergus, by the way, asked to breathe underwater as one of his wishes, IrishCentral continued.. The wish was fulfilled, but Fergus was warned that the ability wouldn't work in Loch Rudraige

Fergus, in the way of folklore characters that provide a life lesson about humility, decided he knew better and went swimming in the loch anyway. His power did still work, but it turns out the sprites had really just wanted him to stay away from the sea monster that inhabited the loch, known as the Muirdris.

Fergus escaped the beast, but his face was forever frozen in fear from the encounter.

(Again, not sure the leprechauns are to blame for that.)

9. You can make leprechaun traps

If you truly believe in leprechauns, you can catch one with a good enough trap.

RELATED: Why your Facebook is full of leprechaun traps

Of course, we can't guarantee what will happen if you actually manage to catch one and make your three wishes... remember, leprechauns aren't to be trusted (or perhaps we're not to be trusted with what they could grant us).

© 2017 KUSA-TV


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