Wednesday, March 11, 2015

To Catch A Leprechaun! Keeping Myths and Magic Alive by Donna Galanti

Did you ever believe in myths as a child? The Easter Bunny. Santa Claus. The Tooth Fairy. Wasn’t it fun? And even more fun for us parents to now inspire our kids to believe.

Leprechaun ill artlibre jnl.
Licensed under FALvia Wikimedia
Saint Patrick’s Day is almost here. It inspires magic and myths about shamrocks and leprechauns and pots of gold. My son and I found a four-leaf clover one day while flying a kite. We put it in a frame and wrote down all around it what we were doing that day just to keep the magic alive.

We even tried to catch a leprechaun one St. Patrick’s Day because we wanted him to lead us to his pot of gold.  

Leprechaun Trap (designed by my son)
Items needed: 
One large plastic cup with a rim
Green glitter and Lucky Charms cereal

Cut a small hole in top of cup.
Thread string through cup hole and tie to a door and let the string run out of the cup for a bit on the floor.
Sprinkle glitter and glue Lucky Charms on the string all the way to the inside top of the cup.
Prop cup up on toothpicks so the cup is tilted open on one side.
When the leprechaun follows the trail inside the cup and pulls on the string looking for more goodies he will jerk the cup, the toothpicks will drop, and he’ll be trapped inside waiting for you in the morning!

But that dastardly leprechaun was too smart for us. He ate all the Lucky Charms, left behind a miniature hat in his escape, and a mess of glitter everywhere. I don’t blame him for not wanting to be caught. Leprechauns earn their pots of gold they guard. Legend says that they spend their days making and mending shoes. Sounds like hard work! You can’t blame them for being territorial about their pots of gold at the end of a rainbow.

From an Ireland trip

When I lived in England as a child, my parents and I traveled much of Europe. I recall Ireland as being green as a true leprechaun in my young mind, rugged and beautiful. I never kissed the Blarney Stone (I was too scared to hang by my feet to do it) but I did so many other wonderful things. 

I caught a rainbow trout in an icy stream. I swung my legs off a sea cliff as I ate cold leftover lobster that we’d pulled up from a trap with the help of a craggy Irish fisherman. And I hiked through peat on a fog-covered mountain to bear witness to Saint Patrick’s rough-stone well, covered in statues left behind by visitors. 

And it was a movie called Finian’s Rainbow with Fred Astaire, about an Irish rogue who steals a leprechaun’s pot of gold that inspired me as a kid to search for those rainbow ends – and my own pot of gold. Whenever a rainbow appeared in the sky on our travels I would plead with my mother to drive toward the rainbow’s end. What could be more magical then where light and water meet in the summer sky to create a fleeting and radiant bridge of color? 

Books also inspired me as a child to believe in myths and magic and legends. 

My worn copies
Two of my favorite books I still re-read, that drew me into a mystical world as a child were Mary Stewart’s The Crystal Cave and The Hollow Hills. This magical and mysterious myth retelling of Merlin and King Arthur inspired me to coerce my parents to visit King Arthur’s legendary castle, Tintagel, on the Cornish coast.

In my book, Joshua and the Lightning Road, Joshua travels a lightning road to another world to find out that the myths he thought weren’t real, are just that – very real, and very exciting and terrifying all at once.

Who says we can’t still believe in myths and magic and pots of gold…or even lightning roads? As writers we can, again and again and again. In doing so, we keep the magic alive. For kids. For us. And if you dare to catch a leprechaun and succeed, I want to know about it! 

What books inspired you to believe in myths and magic as a kid? (it’s okay to confess that they still do!)

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