Why We Believe in Leprechauns

by | Mar 12, 2013 | Liturgical Living, March, Parenting, Parties, Saints | 5 comments

It’s a funny thing about leprechauns.  If you don’t believe in them, they seem to leave you quite alone.  For twenty-four years I didn’t bother with leprechauns, and they didn’t bother with me.  But then I married into a south-side Irish family, and I learned about all the mischief that the leprechauns can make once they know you know, ya know?

This appears to be a photograph of an actual leprechaun.
More on him later.

Of course, at first I did wonder if it would be appropriate to encourage a belief in leprechauns (fairies, Santa, etc.) in my children.  After all, aren’t all of us, even our children, too modern and scientific for all that?  And what if there really weren’t any leprechauns or Easter bunnies or cookie-making elves?  Couldn’t I be accused of willfully misleading my own children?

But then I started reading G.K. Chesterton, and I realized that all those post-modernist worrywarts had it all wrong.  And so we believe.

Believing in fairies and fairy tales helps my kids to believe in things they cannot see and to understand that there is a world bigger than the one we can know with our senses.

Alas, many adults have outgrown their belief in fairies (as the stories had warned that they would) but they are left with that ability to have faith in something that is hidden.

Monstrance Meaning --Aleteia

When the husband was growing up, leprechauns would sometimes play tricks on their family.  So they knew he knew.  And now that we have kids of our own, the leprechauns like to make mischief around here.

Like this:

Why yes, that IS a box of Lucky Charms.
And THAT is, of course, Irish Soda Bread!

Which brings me back to that top photo.  When my oldest son was eight years old, he built himself a leprechaun trap:

The plan was to lure it in the door with a promise of free whiskey (leprechauns are suckers for that), but when he would pick up the glass, he’d fall through a trap door and be caught.

When he got up on the morning of St. Patrick’s Day, he went running to check the trap.  The glass of whiskey was empty, the trap door had been triggered . . . but there was a tiny rope ladder leading out of the trap.

He put the Nerf toys in there to cushion the fall.

So it appeared that Jack HAD caught a leprechaun, but he had fashioned himself a ladder out of yarn and toothpicks and escaped.  And all that gold . . . was fake.  But we also found our camera mysteriously inside the trap.  And when we downloaded the photos off of it, we found this guy:

He’s totally mocking us, right?  How could we not believe now?


And I think it’s IMPORTANT that I believe in leprechauns, and that my kids do.  Because, despite what other folks might say to the contrary, this world of ours is MAGICAL.  Beautiful, unexplainable, wondrous things happen to me every day.  Why not leprechauns?  We haven’t caught one yet, but that doesn’t mean we never will. 

If you are willing to let G.K. Chesterton convince you that to NOT believe in fairy tales would be most absurd, read The Dragon’s Grandmother and The Ethics of Elfland.  I think you will not regret it.


  1. Nanacamille

    I was there the year Jack caught the little escape artist and I bet he'll come up with an even better trap this year as he has brothers now who can help him with the creation. It just can't get any better that watching those boys try to outsmart little green men…no offense Notre Dame fans.

  2. noreen

    That's hilarious Kendra! I love how the leprechaun plays pranks!! I was talking about St. Patrick to my first graders this past Sunday and I said how he was a real man who loved Jesus and lived long ago. I was still asked "But he was a leprechaun, right?"

  3. Molly

    So much fun – I'm also in the GK, let my kids believe in fantastical things so they can believe the big mysteries later, camp.

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Hi! I’m Kendra.

For twenty years now, I’ve been using food, prayer, and conversation based around the liturgical calendar to share the lives of the saints and the beautiful truths and traditions of our Catholic faith. My own ten children, our friends and neighbors, and people just like you have been on this journey with me.

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