#47 Teaching with Irish Folklore

Use Irish Folklore to retell stories, including key details, and demonstrate an understanding of their central message or lesson.

These stories were passed down orally for many many years and in Ireland, many of these stories were in their native language of Gaelic – which most people refer to as Irish. The oral tradition has played a huge role in Irish culture with storytelling and music. 

I know all of you are familiar
with the Leprechauns and their
tricky ways. But what is really
behind all of this nonsensical fun? 

Many of these fairies are often referred to as the Wee Folk. Some are known to live in solitude (like the leprechaun) and others stick together in groups.  The leprechaun is probably the most famous and known for his pointed hat and buckled shoes all dressed in green and being a bit mischievous.  Leprechauns are happy being busy, they make shoes and they wear leather aprons with tons of pockets for their hammers and tools. 

The pot of gold symbol comes from Ireland also. The leprechauns are known for being the richest of all wee folks. They are similar to bankers and they don’t lend out their money easily.  Legend has it that they buried all of their gold to keep it safe when the Vikings invaded Ireland and from then on it’s been their job to guard it and keep it safe and hidden. 

So if everyone knows there are pots of gold at the end of the rainbow then the Leprechauns have this problem of their riches being found easily. this must keep them very busy moving the pots of gold around to new hiding places. 

Leprechauns are tricky wee folk. They are known for using their riches to get their way and to get out of situations with humans. However, it’s really hard to obtain money from a Leprechaun otherwise. He has two leather purses. One has a silver coin and the other has a gold coin. If you catch a leprechaun he will promise to give it away if you set him free. Then when you try to collect the money the silver coin always returns to the purse, the gold one turns into ashes, and then the leprechaun vanishes.  They believe that they are the keepers of ancient treasures. Leprechauns keep their treasures in crocks or pots and tend to avoid contact with humans.

What you may not know is that the leprechaun has some relatives. The Clurichauns and the Fear Dearg.  The Clurichauns are similar to leprechauns in the way they look but they like to dress up in red clothes and fancy blue silk stockings – they normally wear red caps. They also carry small bags of silver coins with them. They are very lazy and instead of working, they love to have fun!  They are often spotted taking wild rides around the countryside on the backs of chickens, sheep or sheepdogs. 
The Fear Dearg (meaning red man in Irish) have ugly yellow skin and wear long red capes.  They enjoy scaring people. They can make themselves look larger than they really are and they can make their voices sound like thunder or the roaring ocean. Sometimes they will get bored and kidnap someone and place them in a dark room. Then hide and create horrible screaming and laughing sounds. He will eventually let his victims go.  

There are many other fairies such as the Banshees, the Pookas, the Dullahans, the Merrows, Grogochs, and the ballybogs.  They all have their own unique ways which are supported by Folktales throughout Ireland. Using these in your classroom support many of the common core standards, state standards and PYP themes of inquiry of being able to retell a story, and engaging in various cultural folklore.

One of my favorite stories is about the Pooka. The Pooka is recognized as being kind of a wild spirit and feared by many. They can change into many different animals. They are known to be kind of mischievous and sometimes that can result in violent or scary mischief.

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