Leprachaun Song, The

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  • Teideal (Title): Leprachaun Song, The.
  • Uimhir Chatalóige Ollscoil Washington (University of Washington Catalogue Number): 843901.
  • Uimhir Chnuasach Bhéaloideas Éireann (National Folklore of Ireland Number): none.
  • Uimhir Roud (Roud Number): 5274.
  • Uimhir Laws (Laws Number): none.
  • Uimhir Child (Child Number): none.
  • Cnuasach (Collection): Joe Heaney Collection, University of Washington, Seattle.
  • Teanga na Croímhíre (Core-Item Language): Irish and English.
  • Catagóir (Category): song.
  • Ainm an té a thug (Name of Informant): Joe Heaney.
  • Ainm an té a thóg (Name of Collector): Jill Linzee.
  • Dáta an taifeadta (Recording Date): between 1982 and 1984.
  • Suíomh an taifeadta (Recording Location): University of Washington, United States of America.
  • Ocáid an taifeadta (Recording Occasion): private.
  • Daoine eile a bhí i láthair (Others present): unavailable.
  • Stádas chóipcheart an taifeadta (Recording copyright status): unavailable.

Amhrán an Leipreacháin

The leprachaun is a fairy shoemaker. And he gets two years younger every birthday. And he always works under a waterfall – if there’s no waterfall, he’ll invent one. And he always has a crúiscín, or a jar, by his side – and it’s not water that’s in the jar but a drop of old ‘mountain dew’ they call it. And every time he hits… the nail with the hammer, he takes a drop of the poitín and it helps him a lot, you know. And this is what happened to somebody who thought you could catch a leprachaun. See, the minute you look at a leprachaun, you’ve got to keep your eyes on him. If you take your eyes off him, he’s gone – no matter how much of a grip you have on him. But if you throw a spit out on your hand when you catch him, he can’t leave you until you tell him to go; but you won’t be able to see him. Right. Anyway:

In a shady nook, one moonlit night, a leprechaun I spied
With a scarlet cap and a coat of green, and a crúiscín by his side
‘Twas ‘tic, tac tic’ his hammer went upon a tiny shoe
And I laughed to think he was caught at last – but the fairy was laughing too.

With tiptoe step and beating heart, quite softly I drew nigh
There was mischief in his merry face, a twinkle in his eye
He hammered and sang with a tiny voice, and drank his mountain dew
Oh, I laughed to think he was caught at last – but the fairy was laughing too.

As quick as thought, I seized the elf. ‘Your fairy purse!’ I cried
‘The purse, I see, is in the hand of that lady by your side.’
I turned to look- The elf was gone! Then what was I to do?
Oh, I laughed to think what a fool I’d been – but the fairy was laughing too.

Irish version

Ar mo thaisteal dom aon oíche amháin is mé ag dul síos an gleann
A chonaic mé an leipreachán is é faoi scath na gcrann
Bhí tic-tac-tic ar a bhróig aige ‘s an bhróigín ar a ghlúin
Ó, thosaigh mé ag magadh faoi – ach bhí seisean ag magadh fúm.

‘Dia dhuit, a fhírín bhig,’ ars mé, ‘sín chugam do phróca óir’
‘Tá an t-ór,’ ar sé, ‘ag an tsí-bhean úd ina seasamh ar an ród.’
Go héadtrom ciúin do dhruideas leis – ó, bhí sé agam dar liom!
Ó, thosaigh mé ag magadh faoi – ach bhí seisean ag magadh fúm.
Ó, thosaigh mé ag magadh faoi – ach bhí seisean ag magadh fúm.


One night, as I was travelling down through the glen,
I saw a leprachaun under the shade of a tree.
He was hammering ‘tic-tac-tic’ on the shoe upon his knee.
Then I started making fun of him – as he made a fool of me.

‘God bless you, wee man,’ says I, ‘hand over your crock of gold!’
‘The gold,’ says he, ‘is with the fairy woman who’s standing there in the road.’
I crept up on him quietly – ‘Oh, I’m having you!’ thought I.
Then I started making fun of him – but he made a fool of me.
Then I started making fun of him – but he made a fool of me.


This song – the English version – has been attributed to Robert Dwyer Joyce (1830-82), Co. Limerick, brother of song-collector Patrick Weston Joyce. It is a certainty that Joe learned it in school.

It’s curious that Joe’s presentations to American audiences appear to have been largely shaped by how he perceived their expectations. Having lived in the States for a number of years before he began teaching, he knew, for instance, how St Patrick’s Day was celebrated in New York. He must have thought, as March 17 approached in the academic calendar, that something involving leprachauns and fairies and strong drink would be called for. Thus it is that the Joe Heaney Collection at the University of Washington collection contains several performances of this song, both in Irish and in English, plus any number of stories and anecdotes relating to the supernatural.