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So, you wanna catch a Leprechaun, aye?

My fascination with the tricky little green bastards started one year ago today—St. Patrick’s Day. Or, rather, the Eve of St. Patrick’s Day—when my daughter brought home one of those tiny makeshift “leprechaun traps” that they make in Elementary schools for the holiday. It was a cute ‘lil thing: an old shoebox, painted green, held up by a popsicle stick tied to a sliver of green yarn. Clever, I’ll give it that.

It was what she said, however, as she placed the thing next to the doggy door in the kitchen, that struck me as deceptively clever, “you can only catch ‘em if you believe in ‘em, Dad!”

Now, that’s exactly the kind of thing that a public elementary school teacher would say: if it doesn’t work, you didn’t “believe hard enough.” A good excuse, no doubt, which leads to my first, and most important, point:

And let’s get it out of the way: you don’t actually believe in Leprechauns. I know it’s a cute idea: the whole “pot o' gold at the end of the rainbow” scenario. But, let’s be adults here: scientifically speaking, anyways, rainbows have no end. They’re circles—which makes the entire idea one big joke. Kids eat this stuff up—just like Santa Claus or the Tooth Fairy—but just like anything that’s too good to be true, it isn’t. There’s no pot of gold ‘cause there’s no end to a rainbow. And there’s no little Irish guy that you can catch that will magically grant you three wishes to let him go, right?

Well, so I thought.

See, despite my unbelief, my daughter very much believed in the whole Leprechaun thing. And that’s the part that matters. How’s the Proverb go? Faith like a child? That’s the idea, here.

So, step one is that you need a child. Presumably yours. If you don’t have a child then I question your interests in the whole “Leprechaun” thing to begin with but—I digress. Obviously, the younger the better. Because younger children tend to be more—pardon my bluntness—stupid. They believe in a lot, and you’d be surprised as to how large of a commodity belief is in the world of the supernatural. In a word: very.

Step two is getting to know your adversary. Just like any hunter, you’ve got to get, at least in a rudimentary sense, an understanding of your prey. Leprechauns are small, but they aren’t stupid. And I know you still don’t believe in them, but they don’t care. In fact, they hope you don’t believe—that’s a part of their trick.

Leprechauns are Irish folklore, obviously, deriving many of their legends and lores from the stories of Celtic faes, or fairies. Unlike many types of fae, however, Leprechauns are always male. Don’t ask, it’s magic. And, just like most males, Leprechauns are mischievous. Oh, and they love money. Mostly gold, but you already knew that.

When I say love, I really stress love—as in, they will kill for this gold. Think about it: imagine being three to eight inches (maybe taller, I’m not exactly sure) in stature, cunning as all hell to begin with, and schlockered up on Irish whiskey. You’d kill anyone that’d try to so-much-as look at your gold, wouldn’t you? So, moving forward with this whole ordeal, be careful. I will not be held responsible if you’re not so “lucky” by the end of this.

Now that you’ve got the basics, it’s time to get into the nitty-gritty: catching a live Leprechaun.

You’re going to feel like an idiot. But just like any idiot that strikes gold, you’ll be begging for someone to pinch you cause you’ll feel like you’re dreaming. Either that or you weren’t wearing any green. My daughter saw to that one…

This leads me to the bait. Which, if you fish you should know this, is the key to catching the right prey. There are a couple of options, some better than others, but here’s the basic breakdown:

Simplest of all, you’ve got potatoes. Leprechauns love potatoes. Not as much as gold but, as any drunk Irish dude at a pub will tell you, they love a good spud. The downside to potatoes is that you’d only entice the really hungry Leprechauns. The other ones wouldn’t dare stick their neck out for a quick bite.

Secondly, you’ve got shoes. I know you do—probably some old, nasty ones stinking up your closet up to the Heavens right about now. It’s a little-known fact that Leprechauns are shoemakers, and shoe-fixer-uppers for that matter, so if you leave out some worn-down shoes, most of them can’t resist but mend and polish them. And, hey, if all else fails, at least you’ll have some nice shoes to fill by the end of this.

Lastly, and most costly is, obviously, gold. They simply can’t resist it. An old gold watch, gold tooth, gold…whatever will do the trick. Just make sure it’s not fool’s gold, or else the only fool is gonna be you.

Now, to trap the little runts you’re gonna need one of two things: a four-leaf clover, or iron. And, considering that four-leafers are one-in-ten-thousand, I assume the latter will be more readily available. Iron is extremely harmful to fairies of any kind, due to its contents being strictly “from Earth”—whatever that means. Iron is found in loads of common household products, like hammers or frying pans, so it should be easy to access. Even something as simple as a metal nail will do the trick. This is magic, after all.

In brief, you’re going to construct a little “leprechaun trap” of your own. Don’t overthink it: keep it simple, just like the kiddies do. And, speaking of kids, it needs to be arranged in the same household as a sleeping child. As I said before, their belief is the key to all of this.

It can be as small as a shoebox or as large as an entire room. Ideally, it should have only one “exit” point, to prevent the little bastard from escaping. Place your bait of choice in an obvious spot, and tie off something that makes noise to it. I need not go into every option but… use your imagination. We are talking about hunting Leprechauns, here. The easiest option would be to tie a tiny bell or something similar onto whichever bait you chose. That way, when the Leprechaun snags it—you snag him.

Leprechauns are solitary fairies, which means they tend to stay out of the limelight—which also means you’ll probably need to be up late for this trap to work. It could be anywhere from sunset to sunrise, but a good rule of thumb is between midnight and four AM.

I cannot stress enough that Leprechauns are tricksters. You probably won’t see the little imp, but don’t let your unbelief fool you… he’s there. Any rapid clicks or chimes that you might hear late in the night are nothing but the belts on his shoes. And if you hear them, you’ll realize how fast these little things are. So be alert.

If you’ve ever read up on Saint Patrick, you might’ve heard the legend of how he banished all the snakes from Ireland. Some say this is a half-truth. Some say these “snakes” were actually Leprechauns themselves. No scholars will confirm this, of course, but keep in mind that Patrick wanted to spread Christianity in a nation full of Pagans; Pagans who believed in, and worshiped, gods like Lugh—a craftsman and crafty warrior. If that name doesn’t ring any bells for you, keep in mind that Lugh is sometimes pronounced “Luq”…as in, the Luck of the Irish. I told you these things are deceptive little devils. Why else would Saint Patrick call them “snakes”?

Once you hear the audible sound of your trap snapping into action, you’ll have but seconds to react. As I said, they’re fast. If your trap’s under a box, pull the string and place your iron object atop it. If the trap is in a room, barricade the door with your iron object. It’ll take only seconds for him to realize he’s been caught, but even less time to think up a trick to get himself out of it.

Do not forget this: he owes you three wishes, now.

Don’t be surprised if he doesn’t start talking right away. He’s counting on your unbelief, waiting for you to lift that box, open that door. Don’t give him the satisfaction of such a simple escape.

If you successfully keep him trapped for a certain duration of time, he’ll realize he’s been bested, and think up a new scheme to weasel his way out of his obligation of the three wishes. They’re stingy—don’t let this one escape without your ransom payment.

Some Leprechaun catchers claim they’ve heard sounds from within the traps—sounds of helpless pets or loved ones—begging to be set free. Or, maybe, they’ll watch a beloved family photograph “randomly” fall from the wall, prompting the use of that iron hammer all-so conveniently.

These are all tricks. The Leprechaun knows just the right buttons to press. They think humans are stupid, greedy monsters. Don’t let him win.

You’ve got to be tough. You’ve got to believe. ‘Cause, when I heard the voice of my daughter from the other side of our basement door, I doubted myself, and this whole “Leprechaun” thing, for a long minute.

Daddy? Why are my school sneakers in the basement? I can’t open the door, Daddy!

It’s a really good trick—the kind that messes with your mind. Do not, no matter what he tells you with that lying, deceptive tongue, open that door, lift that box.

And be prepared for a long struggle. Leprechauns don’t give up their gold, their wishes, their lies, easily. It might take hours, days... weeks to get the little bastard to give in. Hell, it took mine nearly a week just to give up the whole daughter mimicry charade. It hasn’t spoken since, but I refuse to open the basement door until it does.

I know it will—eventually. And always remember: it owes you those three wishes.

Written by MakRalston
Content is available under CC BY-SA