Tuesday, September 9, 2008

The Truth About the Leprechaun

Intriguing title, eh? Both for a book and a blog post! When I saw Bob Curran's book in a shop when I was on holiday in ireland, I couldn't resist buying it... I admit that I couldn't resist many other books either and I'm sure to get to those sometime in the next few years. :-)

The Truth About the Leprechaun is just that. It tells us about where the leprechaun comes from, what folk tales are associated with it, how he fits into Irish folklore in general. It also gives tips on how to behave around a leprechaun (carefully!) and how to get it to tell the truth (although no solution is really offered for this).

It's interesting - the leprechaun isn't the smiling, jolly little green fella we see on tourist merchandise, but a malevolent trickster. I especially loved the stories that the author got from Irish people living in rural areas, tales of seeing a leprechaun as well as old stories that were passed on through generations. I really like that there is someone like Bob Curran who is collecting this information - the younger generations don't believe in fairies and all that so without books like this one all knowledge would be lost. And keep in mind that it might be true that they used to inhabit Ireland before people came so it's all history!

I liked a particular theory that I've only seen associated to the old gods so far - that although we think of leprechauns and fairies as small, they used to be big, they just got smaller as people believed in them less and less. I've heard this in relation to gods in general - that they're only powerful if people believe in them. I think it's an interesting aspect of the collective mind. Oh and Terry Pratchett used the theory in his book Small Gods. So it has to be true! :-)

I'd recommend this book to people who are interested in folklore and... well, that's it, pretty much. If you think fairies are a big lie you probably don't want to read this. Although I should point out that the style isn't dry and academic, but rather amusing. As if the author really thinks you'll meet a leprechaun soon and will need to know what not to do.

Challenges: Non-Fiction Five, 888 Challenge


Amanda said...

That's so cool you picked this up in Ireland! That is an interesting concept with god's shrinking as believe fades.

Ana S. said...

This sounds just like my kind of book! How come I'd never heard of it before? Thanks for bringing it to my attention, Joanna.

joanna said...

amanda - I know! :-) And that's why I love reading about folklore, including the theories, it's so interesting!

nymeth - I don't think it's really well-known or anything... it's just one of those things I couldn't pass up since I was in Ireland at the time! :-)

joanna said...

nymeth - if you want i can mail it to you? :-)