I fell in love with Ireland. I love the people, the culture, the music, and the folklore. I love the way the rain there smells and how bright the world looks when the sun finally appears. I got to visit small towns and smaller islands and learned unpronounceable Irish words. I sang the songs and smelled the peat fires and danced with the children. It's still a part of me, even more than ten years after I moved home.
But I never did see a leprechaun. Or maybe I did. Who knows?
This St. Patrick's Day, join me and celebrate with a little wonder. Talk about leprechauns and rainbows and pots of gold. Sit together at dinner (perhaps some corned beef and cabbage?) and ponder some Irish what-ifs. I've put a few here.
And if you want to celebrate with a little story, ask this question: What if a leprechaun didn't care for gold? Talk about it, and then read this little tale. You might even try your hand at an Irish accent!
Liam the Leprechaun
by Kelly Hochbein
Liam the Leprechaun was different from other leprechauns. He didn’t like gold. He liked candy.
Instead of keeping his gold in a pot at the end of a rainbow as other leprechauns do, Liam spent it all on candy. He’d wear a disguise and visit a candy shop in a human town. He’d buy chocolate bars, lollipops, and other delicious delights. Liam didn’t save a single gold coin. All he cared about was candy. And gold can buy a whole lot of candy!
Liam’s family didn’t understand. His parents worried about his future and his brother teased him. Liam told them that he didn’t have to worry about anyone stealing his candy because he’d eat it right up. A pot of gold, though, was something to worry about.
One day, a human child named Ellie spotted Liam walking out of the candy store. Ellie loved to read about dragons and fairies and leprechauns, so Liam’s disguise didn’t fool her. She came up with a plan.
You see, according to legend, if a human captures a leprechaun, the leprechaun must grant three wishes in exchange for its release. Ellie knew this. And she knew all about leprechaun gold, too. She walked up to Liam, touched his arm, and shouted, “Gotcha!”
Liam stopped in his tracks. He knew he was stuck. But all he could think about was his candy.
“Uh-oh,” said Liam. He was craving bubblegum.
“I’d like my three wishes, please,” Ellie said. She couldn’t believe she’d actually captured a real, live leprechaun.
“Sure, sure,” Liam replied, distracted by thoughts of the chocolate-covered pretzels he’d just purchased.
“Hmmmm…” Ellie thought long and hard about her first wish. “I wish for a puppy!”
“Done,” said Liam, snapping his fingers and gazing at his bag of candy.
Ellie scooped up her slobbery new puppy.
“And I’d like a unicorn,” said Ellie.
“Done,” said Liam, snapping his fingers again, his mouth watering for gumdrops. The unicorn appeared with a whinny.
“And for my third wish,” Ellie announced, “I’d like your pot of gold.”
Liam froze. He panicked. He didn’t have a pot of gold. All he had was candy.
“Well, ummm…” he stammered.
“I know you have a pot of gold,” Ellie said. “All leprechauns do.”
“I don’t have one,” said Liam. “I only have this.” He held up his candy bag.
“But you’re a leprechaun!” Ellie cried. “Leprechauns are supposed to have pots of gold.”
“I am a leprechaun,” Liam insisted. “I’m just a little bit different. I prefer candy to gold.”
Ellie thought. Liam worried. He knew that as long as he couldn’t grant all three of the girl’s wishes, he’d never be free.
Ellie brightened. “What if I wished for a pot of gold instead of your pot of gold?” she asked.
It was Liam’s turn to think. “Done!” he said, snapping his fingers a final time. A weathered black pot appeared, filled to the brim with shiny gold coins.
Ellie grinned and carried the heavy pot home, her new puppy and unicorn trailing behind her. Liam also headed home, where he could hear his brother shouting.
“Where’s my pot of gold?” Liam heard him cry. “It’s gone!”
“Here,” Liam said with a sly smile. “Cheer up. Have a piece of candy.”
Liam was, as it turns out, more like other leprechauns than he’d thought. He really enjoyed a good bit of mischief.
Here's to writing, reading, smiling, and everything Irish. Beannachtaí na Féile Pádraig!