Sometimes, if you’re trying to track down the origin of a certain thing, person, or being, it’s best to go directly to the original source. That is certainly true for leprechauns. Absent rainbows, of course, they’re difficult to find, and once found can only be trapped by a fixed stare. Blink and they’re gone. Or at least, that’s how the legend goes.
Fortunately, my college roommate, Steve, is a publicist for a leprechaun who claims to be the one and only leprechaun, so it was fairly easy to arrange the interview that follows. Steve majored in Gaelic, so he helped translate along the way when the leprechaun abandoned English during the interview.
LEN: Thank you for agreeing to this interview on such short notice. How are you?
LEPRECHAUN: Ta’ me’ go maith.
STEVE: He says he’s doing well.
LEN: Good, good. So, let’s begin shall we?
LEPRECHAUN: Mas e’do thoil e’.
STEVE: He says, “If you please.” Wayne, please use English.
LEN: His name is Wayne?
WAYNE: Something wrong with that?
LEN: No, it just doesn’t sound very Irish and—
WAYNE: Ach, Steve, what have you got me into with this imbecile. How’s this helpin’ my career?
STEVE: Len, I know it’s difficult to understand, but he’s not Irish.
LEN: Not Irish? But I thought—
WAYNE: You all THINK. Well, let me put it this way. If the Irish are the leaves on a tree, I am the root deep in the earth from which the tree, its trunk, its branches, and its leaves sprang. I am from a time before the Irish, before even the Tuatha De’ Danann.
LEN: The who?
STEVE: An ancient people, said by some to be only quasi-historical.
WAYNE: Quasi, my—
STEVE: Language! Settle down, big guy. You’re not gonna get any gigs if you start throwing f-bombs.
WAYNE: Gigs, is it? Like that supermarket opening?
STEVE: Listen here, I work, I slave, I—
LEN: Whoa, whoa, can we get back to the interview?
WAYNE: Go n-ithe an cat thu’ is go n-ithe an diabhal an cat.
LEN: Something about a cat?
STEVE: Loosely translated, “May the cat eat you, and may the cat be eaten by the devil.”
LEN: Riiiiiiight. Okay, then. First question: Why are you so tall and why are you wearing a red jacket and that funny cocked-hat?
WAYNE: May the devil . . . oh, well, never mind, I’ll answer the damn question. In truth, all these descriptions of little folk dressed in green, sitting on their arses at the end of rainbows with pots of gold are a load of crap!
LEN: So leprechauns are six feet five and wear bright red jackets with, what, 20 buttons?
WAYNE: 49, actually. Seven rows of seven.
LEN: Is that some sort of magical number?
WAYNE: I dunno, ask my bloody tailor! Steve, do we have to do this?
STEVE: Be patient, big guy. This is a chance to change your image.
WAYNE: Fine, fine, but get him to stop talking about me in the plural. There is only one leprechaun, and he is me. Always has been, always will be. Sorry about all the empty rainbows, but there you have it. I’m a solo act.
LEN: So, one of a kind. No short stature, no green coat, no cobbling of shoes, no treasure at the end of the rainbow, no disappearing when I blink, none of that.
WAYNE: That’s right, no one’s gotten it right since 1605.
LEN: What’s the significance of that date?
WAYNE: The publication of Dekker’s “The Honest Whore, Part 2,” of course.
LEN: Excuse me?
WAYNE: A book. You’ve heard of books?
LEN: Yes, of course, but how was that a milestone?
WAYNE: It was the last time I was taken seriously, is all. In it, I’m identified by my proper name, as the Lubrican, that spirit, that god, as Dekker put it, “Whom by preposterous charms thy lust has raised.”
LEN: Lubrican? As in lubricant?
WAYNE: You see, Steve, he gets it. We really should sue every company using my name. I should be getting royalties!
STEVE: We’ve been over this before, Wayne. That’s just not going to happen.
WAYNE: Imeacht gan teacht ort.
STEVE: Great, “may I leave without returning.” How adult of you.
LEN: Let’s get back to the questions, Wayne.
WAYNE: Fine, fine. LEN: So, you’re like . . . Cupid?
WAYNE: The funny little cherub with a penchant for shooting arrows? Not hardly, we’re talking lust, my boy, lust!
LEN: The god of lust?
WAYNE: Well, it’s a hard sell these days. I mean, I’m well past my sell-by date, if you know what I mean, so . . .
LEN: So, after Dekker’s book, things went wrong somehow?
WAYNE: Terribly wrong. And the clincher was a bit of poetry by an 18th centrury Irish poet named William Allingham, who described me, and I quote, as “a wrinkled, wizen’d, and bearded Elf, spectacles stuck on his pointed nose, silver buckles to his hose, leather apron, shoe in his lap,” and so on and so forth. Does that resemble me in the slightest?
LEN: I’d have to say no. You look young . . . ish . . . and tall, and handsome, and robust.
WAYNE: How could I prompt lust otherwise?
LEN: Good point. So, ahem . . . that was when you started being described as an elf.
WAYNE: Right, and then all the other distortions began. The red hair, the rainbows, the gold, that damn green costume. I dare say, I could use some gold right about now. Have you ever worked a store opening?
LEN: No, never, but, um, can we get back to the interview? We seemed to have strayed a bit from the most important question of all. What is your origin, where did you come from, and when?
WAYNE: Gods simply are, my boy. I’ve always been here, and always will be, even if it’s only at shopping mall events and such, and the occasional Leprechaun-O-Gram.
WAYNE: Steve’s idea. I show up at bachelorette parties, and—
STEVE: We probably shouldn’t be talking about this, big guy.
WAYNE: And I’ve got this sash across my chest that says, “Magically Delicious.”
STEVE: Hoo-boy, I think we need to stop this interview.
LEN: Point taken. Well, then, thank you Wayne.
WAYNE: Titim gan eiri ort!
STEVE: You don’t want to know.