Posted by CahirO at 3/19/2009 11:51 AM EDT
I saw this on my way to work today. A little green man at the entrance to a pub. Four thousand years of Irish paganism reduced to a witless greeting card ogre.
In Ireland people never talk about leprechauns, they talk of fairies, or púca (ghosts) or the banshee (worse). And they never consider them benign forces. The evicted Gods of the ancient Irish, banished to the margins by the Christian faith, at best they shared the land with the locals in a tense and respectful stand off. You left them alone and you hoped they'd do the same. You certainly didn't mock them.
And it wasn't just olden days stuff. I remember a story in The Donegal Democrat in 2003. It told of workmen from my hometown who had refused to clear a building site out near the river. The field, they contended, was haunted, it belonged, they insisted, even in the face of scorn, to the fairies.
Some say there was poteen (moonshine) involved; some say they were fed up with the working conditions; and some say they really were spooked. One thing’s for sure, they downed tools and walked off the job. And they never went back.