It’s National Leprechaun Day! No, seriously! Apparently that’s a thing that exists and as Man Cave Daily’s resident expert on made-up holidays celebrating my nation’s offensive stereotypes it fell to me to cover this holiday…somehow?
Unfortunately, when I googled “things to do on National Leprechaun Day” all I got were a dozen ads for special schools, safety scissors and box-sets of Real Housewives so coming up with ways to celebrate this clearly rich and storied festival presented a challenge. There was one site that suggested that I organize a leprechaun hunt with my close friends but since I can’t think of a better way to ensure that I don’t have any close friends I decided against it.
Luckily, googling “leprechaun” multiple times must set off some sort of online “idiot tourist alarm” at the Irish Tourism Board and an ad for Dublin’s very own National Leprechaun Museum–which is also a real thing that exists apparently–popped up. This was much more appealing than the leprechaun hunt because a) the thing supposedly only took a half an hour to walk around and b) it was located in the city center, conveniently close to many pubs and bars. I got the feeling that the latter would be necessary after 30 minutes of walking around a bloody leprechaun museum.
Since doing a guided tour of a leprechaun museum on my own represents a new low that I refuse to sink to, I enlisted the help of three friends who agreed to do the tour with me after I lied to them and told them we’d be going to the Jameson distillery instead. They were slightly unhappy when I revealed why we were really there but once I’d explained the situation to them they were understanding and even excited about exploring their country’s folklore and heritage.
After we’d paid the entrance fee and I’d been shouted at by my friends for making them pay an entrance fee into a leprechaun museum we joined a couple from Pakistan and a family of Australians in the lobby and began the tour…which actually wasn’t nearly as terrible as I was expecting.
I mean, it was pretty terrible. Our guide, as nice as she seemed, conducted every speech and story in a voice that was approximately twice as loud as it needed to be considering the tour consisted of ten people. But when I wasn’t being acted at by an out-of-work drama student re-enacting Irish folklore the museum had some really nice touches.
Firstly there was a tunnel that you walked through that screwed with your sense of perspective and made it seem that you’d grown larger, followed by a small-scale replica of the Giant’s Causeway that was built onto the ceiling and bathed in a creepy blue light for reasons that were never explained. And then there was the Giant’s House, a room filled with huge tables and chairs that you could walk around and climb on. The whole sequence of rooms was really well done, even if it did make me feel a little bit like I’d just taken LSD after watching “Alice in Wonderland”.
Despite being ostensibly adults my friends and I spent a good few minutes climbing on giant furniture and taking silly pictures before we were asked politely by the tour guide if we minded getting down so that the actual children could have a go.
That whole experience was fun because I am nothing if not extremely childish, but the main reason I liked the Leprechaun Museum overall was because, despite its name, it didn’t have all that much to do with little green buggers, instead choosing to focus on Ireland’s more interesting myths and legends, i.e. all of them.
You see, the reason that Irish people find the leprechaun stereotype so irritating is that they’re easily the least interesting part of our folklore. Proper Irish myths are filled with sex, murder, war, magic, rape, shape-shifting, scheming and more murder. Half of our legends sound like a rough script for an episode Game of Thrones. Our mythical creatures, the “fairy folk” (who are more bad-ass than the name suggests), feature headless horsemen, she-demons, evil shapeshifters and banshees, and the fact that the world decided that that a dickish dwarf who makes shoes should be our national symbol is more than a little annoying.
The popularity of the leprechaun was explained at the start of the tour. They’d never been all that popular in Irish folklore until relatively recently. But the leprechaun myth, with its gold and its rainbows and its lack of murder became popular overseas and terrible movies like “Darby O’Gill and the Little People” made it the only myth that anyone really cared about. The only reason it became Ireland’s cultural symbol is that it had a better PR person than the rest of our weird-ass creatures.
So this is why I’m choosing to make this National Leprechaun Day the day when we take back our country from that vertically-challenged ginger and replace it with something a bit more awesome.
Ladies and gentlemen I present to you, the new face of Irish mysticism, The Dullahan!
The Dullahan is the Celtic headless horseman. He rides a giant black stallion with eyes of fire and uses a human spinal column as a whip. He takes the souls of those marked for death and the eyes of those that have looked upon him. His rotting, monstrous head, which he carries around like a goddamn Halloween bucket, possesses supernatural sight that allows him to see into the homes of the doomed.
He is, in short, metal as hell! He’s one guitar-solo away from being the album cover for a Dio CD.
So remember, Dullahan 2013! At the very least, it’ll make Notre Dame’s crest look more intimidating.
Edit: I just found out that the National Leprechaun Museum linked this article to their official Facebook and Twitter accounts which is excellent. For being such good sports about it and not reporting me to the Tourism Board I now upgrade my review of the museum from “better than I thought it would be” to “actually pretty awesome“.
I am now in negotiations to help design a Dullahan Museum. (These negotiations consist of me screaming “Please let me design a Dullahan Museum” over and over again).
Richy Craven is an Irish freelance writer and semi-professional idiot. He hopes this piece might land him a job at the Irish Tourism Board. You can check out more of his stuff over at Cracked, Zug or follow him on Twitter.