My grandmother was Irish, and when I was little I got a big kick out of wearing green on St. Patrick’s Day and pinching my friends and relatives who didn’t have on green. I thoroughly enjoyed the holiday stories about magical leprechauns. But when I got older and realized St. Patrick’s Day was in the middle of Women’s History Month, I started wondering why there were no women leprechauns.
I did some research, but could not find a definitive answer. However, I was able to piece together a couple of theories.
Theory #1: There are no female leprechauns because leprechauns don’t exist.
Although this theory has a lot of popular support, there are some arguments against it.
A 2011 survey(1) found one-third of Irish people believe leprechauns exist. Granted, that survey was conducted by the Cooley Distillery and the respondents were likely frequent imbibers of Cooley’s fine Irish whiskey, but that doesn’t mean they’re not people too and their opinions shouldn’t be respected.
One strong argument against this theory is legal recognition. Can real legal status be granted to a non-real thing? In 2009 the town of Carlingford, Ireland passed a law declaring leprechauns an officially protected species(2), and the European Union included the Carlingford leprechauns under the European Union Habitats Directive(3).
Official residential stratus supports the legal recognition argument. According to official City records, there is a leprechaun colony in Portland, Oregon(4). Sure, it’s kind of tiny, measuring only 2 ft (0.61 m) across, with a total area of 452 sq in (0.292 m2), but magical folk know how to work tiny spaces. Remember Hermione’s purse?
Perhaps the strongest evidence against this theory is how many people across the world have reported seeing leprechauns. Some of the observations have been dismissed because the observers had consumed a whole lot of green beer. But in the age of film and video, millions of sane, sober people have seen actual footage capturing the mischief and the magic of (a) Mickey Rooney (The name Rooney originated in Ireland around the 10th century and means descendants of the Champion of Ulster.(5) and (b) Kevin Hart (The Irish name Hart was first found in County Meath before the 12th century and it connotes a descendant of Art(6).
Theory #2: There are no female leprechauns because all leprechauns were created at the same time, and they were created male.
This theory contends leprechauns were designed to live a gazillion years so they don’t need to reproduce and replenish the population. However, with accidents and evils of the modern world, they’ve been dying off over the centuries. I see some support for this dwindling population theory from the Carlingford endangered species law mentioned previously. According to locals, only 236 leprechauns are still alive, and they all live in the Carlingford region(2). This doesn’t explain why there are no women leprechauns though.
Theory #3: There’s no need for female leprechauns because leprechauns are like amoeba and reproduce asexually through binary fission where each one just divides into two.
Although not getting any might account for the really grumpy leprechauns who do dastardly deeds, there are far too many who are so jolly they can’t help dancing a jig. In fact, one legend claims the reason leprechauns make shoes is because they keep dancing holes in their soles(7). With that much joyous dancing, they probably have some women stashed somewhere.
Theory #4: Female leprechauns have not been spotted because they are disguised as men and as tall people.
Female leprechauns might have been around all along and just not sighted in Ireland because they were homebodies and stay-at-home moms. Leprechauns probably immigrated to the US along with other Irish citizens, and that process really stepped up when the great potato famine hit in 1845. Jobs were hard to come by and many men were killed in dangerous work and other hardships. Female leprechauns were desperate to support themselves and their families. For the sake of safety and economic security I think female leprechauns adopted a practice that continues even today: they passed as men (Charley Parkhurst(8) and as tall people (Rachel Maddow(9).
Theory #5: No one sees female leprechauns because they are working underground in the Italian shoe industry.
Another theory that is growing in popularity is that female leprechauns have a flair for designing shoes that is in stark contrast to the chunkier and more elfin designs of male leprechauns. Realizing the economic potential inherent in this distinction, female leprechauns were tricked and trapped by an Italian fairy godfather who is holding them captive. Have you noticed how most of the seriously cute and have-the-nerve-to-be-well-made shoes are Italian brands?
As you consider my theories about why there are no female leprechauns in recorded history, please consider how they figure in to this advice for living at a higher level:
It doesn’t really matter what other people think is real or possible when it comes to your life.
Write your own fable.
Craft your own legend.
Find out where your rainbow is and what’s waiting at the end of it.
Make sure the green you are wearing is not envy or trendy washable dye.
Get yourself a pair of well-made shoes that will be comfortable for a long journey for whatever terrain you might have to walk across or through.
And it never hurts to put a little cute on your working brogans. Have you noticed how many Italian shoes have a touch of gold on them somewhere? I’m just saying.
Until we meet again, I wish you the luck of the Irish.
And the formula for luck is:
Hope + Hard Word + a little bit of magic, otherwise known as Opportunity