Friday, March 19, 2010
The Last Word on Saint Patrick's Day... Leprechauns
In Ireland, there are many legends about leprechauns, a kind of fairy. In most of these stories, leprechauns are described as old men with red beards who wear green clothes and big hats. They are usually about a meter high, although, in some stories they are said to be about the size of your thumb.
Leprechauns usually live alone. They spend their days in forests and fields looking for forgotten treasures hidden by pirates and Vikings long ago. When they find these treasures, they put them in big pots which they hide near the end of the rainbow.
People rarely see leprechauns because they move so fast. If you do see a leprechaun, he must stop and talk to you. However, if you look away – even for just a moment – he will vanish.
Leprechauns can’t lie, and, if asked, they must show you where their pot of gold is and let you take some of the treasure if you wish to, as long as you promise to let them go. No one has ever managed to get any leprechaun gold because, even though they are very honest, leprechauns like to trick people and play jokes on them. Leprechauns are very clever so they always manage to outsmart the people who catch them.
One famous story tells of a man who promised to let a leprechaun go if he showed him where his gold was hidden. The leprechaun took him to a tree deep in the forest and told him the gold was buried under it. The man had no shovel to dig the gold out with so he tied a ribbon around the tree and made the leprechaun promise not to move the ribbon or the gold. The leprechaun agreed so the man let him go before rushing home to get a shovel. A short time later, he returned to the forest only to find that the leprechaun had tied ribbons to hundreds of other trees. The leprechaun kept his promise – and his gold!