Fairy or elvish cobblers who make shoes for fairies. The name may derive either from the Gaelic luacharma'n, meaning 'pigmy', or leith brogan, meaning 'maker of any shoe'. The latter interpretation seems the most likely because a leprechaun is never seen with more than one shoe in his possession. He hides the other one in case he has to escape quickly when a mortal sights him.
Leprechauns usually hibernate underground during the winter and emerge in summer, when the distant rhythmic tapping of their hammers may be heard floating over moors and meadows in a dreamy afternoon. Unlike other fairies a leprechaun may be seen quite easily by mortals. Those who have seen one describe him a merry little fellow dressed in green, with a red cap, leather apron, and buckled shoes.
Leprechauns know the location of hidden treasure - popularly thought to be hidden at the end of a rainbow - and are eagerly sought after for that reason. If caught, a leprechaun can be made to tell his secrets and grant wishes, but if his captor stops looking at him, even for a split second, he will vanish.
Leprechauns were said to guard the gold mines of County Wicklow, which, to this day, have not been found, and yet golden ornaments of ancient Irish design, and dating back to at least 1500 BC, have been discovered throughout Europe.
Leprechauns are popularly referred to as Fairyfolk, or the 'wee people'.