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The Strong Phobia of Leprechauns Persists

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at CU Boulder chapter.

Just to start, do you have a mental image of what a leprechaun looks like? If you do, keep that image in your head as you keep reading. But, in my case, I see them as short individuals with seemingly friendly faces until they smile and show unruly sharp little teeth. I think that despite these beings being super small, they would be intimidating enough to grab a huge chunk of someone’s leg. As someone who is seen on the shorter side, I know for a fact that those who are of smaller stature can be even more terrifying in the right setting. In myth, they seem to be simply mischievous but harmless creatures who store gold in pots at the end of a rainbow and have a fantastic knack for making shoes. Despite this idea that a leprechaun can grant you three wishes, I still believe that there is a danger to these beings. If they were ever seen to be a real phenomenon, that is.  

The first impression: 

I think the first time I ever learned about leprechauns would roughly have been when I was five or six. It was in school where they would have Saint Patrick-themed academics in the form of some sort of activities for young kids. I mean, they’re not going to teach about the history of Saint Patrick and relay that history to young kids. The schools usually would have a more relaxed explanation of the myth of leprechauns in classroom settings, but kids’ imaginations can be wild. Outside of the classroom, I remember some fellow kids would elaborate and exaggerate small details that older kids would tell them on the myth. I can’t remember the exact descriptions, but I can tell you that it has most definitely caused an initiate first fear of these Celtic creatures: 

To make matters even worse, these kids, with their imagination, wanted to find one on the school campus. I won’t lie to you, I was a very gullible kid, and I keep this unfortunate trait in my current life. But, this gullibility did not help in automatically believing the stories these kids spun on the topics of leprechauns. Throughout that whole St. Patrick’s day, I found myself being utterly terrified at the possibility of running into one of these beings. If anyone were to say anything about their height not being scary, they would be wrong. Being a small child at that height and the unknown feeling of fear when it came to these creatures did not agree with rationalization at that point. 

Fast-forwarding by one year, my grandmother was throwing a Saint Patties Day dinner and invited the whole family over for a night that was full of celebration. My fear of leprechauns was still in the picture but was pushed out of my mind through the comfort of familial company. Well, the fear was gone until my grandma decided it was a great idea to pull a prank on my seven-year-old self. After dinner plates had been cleared, she made up her mind to spin a story that was supposed to tease me but in turn, freaked out my young self. She told me there was a leprechaun running loose in the house, and if I saw him, I would be safe because I was wearing green. But, I would need to catch him since he was not allowed to be in the house.  

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This small lie was enough for me to cling to my mother, who most definitely was giving my grandmother a slight stink eye. Eventually, I was able to relax after some reassurances from my mother despite my dad adding to the teasing. I left the table and went to the bathroom, where this teasing was the last straw. When I went to the bathroom to use its toilet, I was welcomed by the sight of green toilet water. I let out a yelp and ran straight back to the table where my grandparents decided to play into the prank a little bit more. I pulled my grandmother to see the green toilet water, and as soon as she made a joke that the green water was indeed leprechaun pee. At this point, I completely burst into tears. My reaction was most definitely fun to my family, but my grandma felt so desperate that she tried to explain the water was green due to food coloring, and there was no way that it could be a leprechaun. I can laugh at my younger self for realizing the truth, but that event most definitely influenced an irrational fear of these beings after so many years.  

As I got older and around the age where you’re able to rationalize things, I was no longer intimidated by the fact that a leprechaun was a terrifying being. Instead, I am now wary of the idea of them, but I no longer am going to sprint in the opposite direction of them. Actually, no, that would most definitely be a lie. I would run, but I think I would be able to possibly fight one. I still think it would be a good rule of thumb to leave these creatures alone in their existence. I will follow this personal belief because these beings are extremely tricky and can give you three wishes based on the being’s capture. In my book, if anything can give you three wishes and it’s something of a magical influence, you are never tempted to try it. There is always a catch for mystical being’s powers of favors, and it would only be common sense to steer clear of even the temptation. 

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Katie Jacobson

CU Boulder '23

Katie is a Senior at the University of Colorado- Boulder. She is currently studying in the Classics department along with minoring in Anthropology and Creative Writing. Her hometown is Laguna Niguel, California. In her free time, you can find her discovering new music, reading, or grabbing a bagel from the Hill.