While I traveled across the great lands of Ireland, making merry on its yummy beer and befriending boisterous, warm-hearted folk, there’s one little problem that nagged me consistently. You see I’m quite normal in some ways, and in-line with everybody that visits the Emerald Isle, I was extremely amused by the legend of the leprechaun. Unfortunately, I couldn’t hold my inquisitiveness back for a moment longer than necessary; I stepped off the plane and into a cab, exchanged some niceties and launched a full-frontal attack on the poor cabbie demanding to know all about the elusive green-man!
Perhaps it was my over-enthusiasm or the quick-wit of the standard Irishman at work, but he decided to mess with my sensibilities and told me the Irish believe in a leprechaun just as much as Indians believe in snake-charmers or the great Indian rope-trick, and that I’d do well to steer clear of this topic during my days within Irish circles. Apparently the locals considered this an instance of Paddywhackery and talking about leprechauns and tooth-fairies was a sure-shot way of alienating yourself with them. [Read: 11 Irish Facts & Myth-Busters]
Now let me be honest with you – to some degree, this is true and I spoke with quite a few locals that confirmed this notion. If you go about asking people if they believed in an ancient legend and made them feel like you thought they were stupid, of course you’re going to ruffle a few feathers; however, with the correct approach and enough number of beers for your good mate, you can certainly coax some stories out of a lad or two!
My early warning however, meant that for a long time, I was quite worried about bringing this topic up in any of my conversations with the locals. That was however, until I met this really charming Irishman at an old-fashioned pub in Clifden, Connemara. This was towards the fag end of my stay and I realized I’d never forgive myself if I left this town without discovering the Irish perspective on one of their most widely known legends.
Mr. Clooney-ishman, as we shall call him henceforth (because he bore an astonishing resemblance to George Clooney and possesed just as much wit if not more) and I bonded heavily over a round of several pints and our shared dislike for the English football team – you see my visit co-incided with the football worldcup and given England’s recent exploits at the global stage, this is usually a good time for every non-English football fan to poke some easy fun! As the conversation moved towards more intimate topics like the love of Mr. Clooney-ishman’s life, who lived across the channel in Burgundy, I sensed my cue and moved in for the kill. Of course I masked my question far better than I bothered to do with the cabbie and started off trying to figure out if what Cabbie-Snootpants told me was indeed true!
Mr. Clooney-ishman laughed, downed his pint and proceeded to tell me in as many words – “That is full of horseshit my friend, the Irish love their legends – most of us even secretly believe in them”. He did however go on to tell me it was true that most Irish people sense condescending, patronizing bastards from a light year away, and the moment they mark you out for someone who thinks of them as stupid and trivial, they will shut you out for good. He then proceeded to explain the entire legend of the leprechaun in detail without me as much as having to ask!