Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
The leprechaun according to folklore
Leprechauns are a class of "faerie folk" associated in Irish mythology and folklore with the Tuatha_Dé_Danann and other quasi-historical races said to have inhabited Ireland before the arrival of the Celts. Leprechauns and other creatures of Irish mythology are often associated with "faerie forts" or "faerie rings" -- often the sites of ancient (Celtic or pre-Celtic) earthworks.
The name "leprechaun" comes from the Irish Gaelic word luprachán, meaning "half-bodied": like other mythological races in the Irish tradition, leprechauns are considered to be partly real, physical, creatures and partly spirits.
Movies, television cartoons, and commericals for the breakfast cereal Lucky Charms have popularized a specific image of leprechauns which bears scant resemblance to anything found in the cycles of Irish mythology.
The leprechaun in modern popular culture
The modern image of a leprechaun is almost invariant: a diminutive old man, usually no larger than three feet tall, wearing a cocked hat called a tam o' shanter, leather (work) apron, woolen waistcoat, knee breeches, long stockings and silver-buckled brogues. They are always bearded and are usually pipe smokers and shoemakers. Leprechauns are often depicted wearing emerald green frock coats.
One well-known representation is the University of Notre Dame's mascot, wearing his distinctive green three-piece suit and cocked hat. The Notre Dame Leprechaun is portrayed live at university events by a student.
Leprechauns in fiction
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