Ask anyone what they think of when they think of Ireland and they will probably tell you leprechauns, shamrocks, or St. Patrick's Day. Ireland actually has a lot more to offer not the least of which is some of the most beautiful scenery on the planet from rolling hills to beautiful beaches with crystal blue-green water. But let's take a look at the fun stuff. Leprechauns are very small sprites said to be about a foot tall who sometimes live in farmhouses or wine cellars.
They are known to aid humans and perform small labors for them. Sometimes they ask humans for supplies and furniture, for which in return they give objects which bring luck and fortune. Leprechauns are called fairy cobblers, for they make shoes for elves (but always one shoe, never a pair).
They are seen quite often by humans and are described as merry little fellows gaily dressed in old-fashioned clothes; green, with a red cap, leather apron, and buckled shoes. When they finish their daily tasks, leprechauns like to organize wild feast, during which time they are referred to as cluricauns. These (often drunk) cluricauns can then be seen riding in moonlight on the back of a dog or a sheep. According to popular belief, a leprechaun possesses a treasure (usually a pot of gold) which a human may obtain if he succeeds in capturing one, which is extremely difficult. Even after capture, a person may not take his eyes off of him for an instant, for then he will vanish.
Leprechauns are mainly found in Irish folklore. As far as the Shamrock goes, the first known written reference is from 1571 where it was worn on the lapel on the Saint's feast day. It was also used as an emblem by the Irish Volunteers during the era of Grattan's Parliament in the late 1700's. The act of wearing the shamrock was considered to be an act of rebellion and during Queen Victoria's time Irish regiments were forbidden to wear it.
Today, on St. Patrick's Day, a member of the British Royal Family presents Shamrock to the Irish Guards regiment of the British Army. As for me I like St. Patrick's Day, the celebration of the Irish Patron Saint who reputedly drove snakes from Ireland. St. Patrick's Day has become popular all over the globe and especially in the U.
S. where it started being celebrated in 1737 in Boston. Why do I like it? It's a good excuse to take the day off and go to McGuire's Irish Pub in Pensacola where they have one of the largest celebrations anywhere and we can drink green beer all day long.
Gregg Hall is a business consultant and author for many online and offline businesses and lives in Navarre Florida with his 16 year old son. For a great selection of Irish Gifts go to http://www.uniqueirishgifts.com