A chairde, Cead Mile failte (Translated: Dear friends, a thousand welcomes to ye!),
Being that it’s St. Patrick’s Day weekend, I thought I’d share with ye a bit o’ the Irish superstition and folklore that’s been handed down from generation to generation. In fact, some Irish stories have been in written form since the 8th century, but most originated over 2,000 years ago when the druids passed stories on orally.
The most famous of these legends (or infamous, if ye prefer to refer to them in that manner), is the Irish fairy more popular than them all – otherwise known as the Leprechaun! Standing only about two-feet-tall, these little old shoemakers with rosy cheeks and twinkling eyes look friendly, but they're actually quite the tricksters. Being aloof and unfriendly little fairy souls, leprechauns aren't easy to spot. No, indeed. They spend all their time busily making shoes, and stashing away all the money their craft brings them in a hidden pot o’ gold at the end of the rainbow. Everyone's heard o’ the legendary pot o’ gold, and the only way to track one is to follow the sound of a leprechaun hammering the shoes. They say if ye catch one, he'll promise to take ye to his pot o’ gold, if ye can just keep him in yer sights! But these tricky little fellows know just how to get ye to look away. Once ye do, they've disappeared and yer chance of riches is gone, gone, gone! Keep in mind that they’re given to excess, so if ye hear one a’ hammerin’ shoes this weekend, ye need only bring out the bottle o’ whiskey, pipe tobacco, snuff, and Guinness to capture his attention!
Then there’s the trefoil, or Shamrock. It was at one time called the “Seamroy”, and it symbolizes the cross and blessed trinity. The legend of the Shamrock is directly connected to none other than yer old friend, St. Patrick, and his teachings. When preaching in the open air on the doctrine of the trinity, he is said to have illustrated the existence of the ‘Three In One’ by plucking a Shamrock from the grass growing at his feet and showing it to his congregation. Before the Christian era though, the Shamrock was a sacred plant of the Druids because its leaves formed a triad. (Personally though, I prefer the four-leaf clover; but that's another story!)
Finally, another well known legend is that of King Lir, his children, and the swans. It is said that King Lir’s wife (the children’s jealous stepmother) had all four of his children turned into swans for 400 years! The sentence is now long passed and the four died as ancient humans, but to this day it is illegal to kill swans in Ireland! (Although, I fail to see WHY anybody would WANT to kill swans, anyway. They’re beautiful!)
And now, for yer grand finale – a poem about me favorite little green fella o’ the weekend – written by Sheri Amon.
The Legend of the Leprechaun
by Sheri Amon
Oh, the leprechaun, a mysterious fellow,
An Irish fairy he be.
An unfriendly sort who keeps to himself,
A miserly fellow is he.
Making shoes for his living, not a bit does he spend,
Instead stores it all in a pot.
At the end of the rainbow his hiding place is,
And to find it will bring you good luck.
If you happen to hear a shoemaker's hammer,
tis the sound that a leprechaun makes.
Find him and corner him, he'll tell you his secret,
If a stare you can maintain.
Look not away for this fairy is tricky,
He'll attempt to sway your glance.
Gone will he be, look away for a moment,
And you'll lose your one only chance.
So then, have ye some corned beef and cabbage and green beer this weekend! And do yerself a favor if ye catch that leprechaun, kick up yer heels and dance ye a little jig over his pot o’ gold!
Go mea dai Diatha! Slan go foil. (Translated: May God prosper you! Bye for now!)