Leprechauns, Trolls & St. Patrick

Whiskey and corned beef and cabbage. Slainte! Now that I have your attention…

Did you know leprechauns in the USA are different from the leprechauns in Ireland? I certainly thought they were a cohesive group adhering to one standard of behavior, but I have been educated otherwise. The Irish leprechaun is a short, happy go-lucky guy who loves a party. He’s a cobbler by trade and always carries his little silver hammer. He has much wealth which he accumulated after the Norse raided Ireland (leprechauns snatched up and horded what was left behind). And he always tells the truth. You can get his wealth only if you see a leprechaun and hold his gaze fast and never let it waiver. As soon as you let him out of your site, he disappears along with your chances of getting his wealth.  According to legend, all you have to do is keep a steady gaze on the imp and ask him where his treasure is. He has to tell you.

However, the leprechaun loves riddles, and the trick comes in decoding them. Tom Allen says this is a true story in Ireland and I believe him. I listen to him every day. I think he is originally from NY because he speaks faster than I do) and is in Toronto now.

Tom didn’t elaborate on the USA leprechaun, but I think I can do that just fine having grown up in NYC, NY. And having gone to parochial school for 12 years and marched in the Macy’s St. Patrick’s Day parade for the last 4 of those years. I think I’m qualified.

I believe a USA leprechaun is happy, short and stout. He smokes a pipe and drinks alcohol (except in my daughter’s kindergarten classroom) and hides a pot of gold at the end of a rainbow. He is truthful and loves to speak in riddles. He is very good at keeping out of human site. He has to be, because if you see him and catch him and not let go, he has to show you where his gold is. Yes, the USA leprechaun has GOLD not just wealth. His bling GLITTERS. But there is a way to know if he’s crossed your path: he leaves a trail of green glittering shamrocks. So unless you happened to be in my daughter’s kindergarten classroom this morning, or any other place with glittering green shamrock’s strewn about (like my livingroom carpet), you are out of a pot of gold.

Now you ask: How do trolls figure in? Trolls are Norse GIANTS (remember the Norse plunder of Ireland?). Trolls are carnivorous and ferocious. Trolls have accumulated wealth from stealing. They will even steal a baby and exchange it with one of their own (changeling). Don’t try to catch a troll like you would a leprechaun to get his wealth. Don’t feed the troll. The only way known to keep them away is to be Christian. Church bells and a cross will do you just fine because trolls are heathens. They live underground because they fear the light of day. Why? Because it will turn them to stone. And that, my friend, is the only way I know of to get troll’s gold. Shine the light of day on them.

Which brings me to St. Patrick, the point of the day’s celebration. He was a boy from Wales whose father was a deacon, his grandfather a priest. He was stolen and sold into slavery in Ireland when he was 16 years old. He worked in captivity as a herdsman for about 6 years until he escaped. During his time in captivity, he prayed and prayed to go back home to his family. He escaped and found his way back home. From there, he entered the Church and became a successful missionary. He took his faith back to Ireland and preached the trinity (using the three leaves of the shamrock) to a people considered pagan. He was so respected and revered by the Irish, that they made March 17th, the date of his death, his feast day.

So whether it be gold or God for you, Eirinn Go Brach.

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#1 Irish Soda Bread — A Bellingham Foodie Blog on 03.17.09 at 10:27 pm

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