Yesterday's post about the Lucky Leprechaun's Shoe prompted a reader to comment and ask if there is a history behind the fairy's shoe.
We did some research in the Castle in the Air library and found that the leprechaun's name is thought to come from the Gaelic phrase leith brogan, meaning "maker of one shoe." This fairy cobbler is in fact always working on a pair of shoes, but he hides one of them such that he only has to carry one shoe when he's spotted by a mortal. You could think of yourself as the leprechaun as you work on yours! The leprechaun is also obliged to tell anyone who catches him the location of his hidden crock of gold. He can be very tricky about how he gives this information, though, and at the first chance, he will disappear, along with his shoe and all his treasure.
We were thrilled to get an email this morning from fairy expert and gnome-hunter extraordinaire Reginald Bakeley in response to our blog post. We love Reg -- he's such a pragmatist:
"Was incredibly agitated to see your item about the Leg of Leprechaun," Reginald wrote. "Vile, secretive creatures, leprechauns, but the dark flesh of their legs and haunches is delectable. They're about the easiest sort of fairy to notice in the field, but they're also one of the quickest to vanish once your gaze wavers. Had one by its scruffy red beard just last summer -- caught it beneath a dead hazel shrub in Leinster -- but the boggart blew snuff all over my face and in the fit of subsequent sneezing my grip eased to where he slipped off. Bother leprechauns. And gold, for that matter. I only wanted a morsel off the blighter's thigh, but some things in life are not meant to be. And now to see your recipe for an ersatz Leg of Leprechaun. Well, I'm going to make one and fill it with poteen-soaked suet and take it back to that same spot, see if I can't attract the knobby cobbler into my net and roast him up with heaps of garlic and snails."
Strangely enough, a treasure-seeker came to Fourth Street yesterday and made off with a crock of gold from our neighborhood bank. He could have learned a thing or two about hiding his hoard, as the Berkeley police caught him and recovered the loot later that day.