Many tales surround the origins of the Leprechaun in Irish Mythology. They are generally seen as tiny, trouble making old men dressed in green with a red beard and a hat.
According to legend, leprechauns are cobblers by trade and are known for their love of gold and their skill in making shoes. They are also said to be very secretive and elusive, often leading people on wild goose chases in search of their treasure.
As in many tales surrounding The Little People Leprechauns can be nasty or nice - they can be mischievous sprites or helpful shoe makers.
They are closely associated with gold and wealth and can be seen as a morality tale on greed.
One origin story for the Leprechaun is associated with the Tuatha Dé Danann. Lugh (pronounced LOO) was known to the Celts as a god of craftsmanship and skill -- in fact, he was known as the Many-Skilled God, because he was good at so many different things. In one legend, Lugh arrives at Tara, and is denied entrance. He enumerates all the great things he can do, and each time the guard says, "Sorry, we've already got someone here who can do that." Finally Lugh asks, "Ah, but do you have anyone here who can do them ALL?" He got through the door!!
Among his many powers Lugh was a master magician and an accomplished blacksmith. He combined these two abilities to make magic weapons.
Lugh of the Small Body
According to one legend when the Milesians conquered the Tuatha Dé Danann and forced the Gods into 'the Underworld' as the Little People Lugh transformed into a fairy craftsman and became Lugh of the small body - Lugh Corpáin.
Another version has him transformed to Stooping Lugh - or Lugh Chromain as he went into the underworld and became one of the Celtic Sidhe or Little People.
Lugh Chromain or Lugh Corpáin (accounts differ) became anglicised in later years into Leprechaun.
LEPRECHAUNS - Our most enduring 'fairy'
It was said that when the Milesians left Ireland, they accidentally left pots of gold behind which the Leprachauns found and kept secretly at the end of rainbows, which they guard with their magical shields and swords.
They are generally no taller than a small child and are solitary by nature, live in remote places, It was believed that they spent their days making shoes. Legend had it that if you successfully catch a leprechaun, he has to give you all his treasures but this was almost impossible to do as they were amongst the cleverest of fairies in Ireland. They were fast, agile, and full of magic and if you took your eyes off them for one second, they would disappear.
Leprechauns, whether dressed in a red or green coat, have become a very important symbol of Ireland. In the USA, St. Patrick’s Day cannot be
celebrated without the frequent and repeated associations with leprechauns, the colour green, or shamrocks.
Leprechauns became so dominant over all other kinds of fairies and mythical creatures in the public imagination. After the medieval era, modern Irish books like T. Crofton Croker’s “Fairy Legends and Traditions of the South of Ireland” made sure that leprechauns eclipsed other goblins, elves, and fey creatures.