The world of tattooing is a world of limitless imagination.
As tattoo techniques get passed down from one artist to another and improved upon with new technology and ideas, there’s nothing stopping you from getting the design of your dreams.
Many people use their tattoos to create a more fantastic version of themselves, something that exists outside what we define as reality.
One of the ways you can embrace a more magical side to yourself is through fairy tale characters.
The leprechaun, for example, has a seemingly permanent place in American folklore.
But how did he get all the way over there?
Let’s take a moment to explore leprechauns, their history, their symbolic meaning, and why some people are going under the needle to get these little guys tattooed on them.
There are a few main talking points most people are aware of when it comes to leprechauns:
- They are from Ireland.
- They wear green suits and hats and have red hair and beards.
- They have a pot of gold that they hide at the end of the rainbow.
- They’re hard to catch, but if you do catch one he will grant you three wishes for his freedom.
Many folktales talk of those who managed to catch leprechauns or get to their pot of gold, only to be outfoxed by the magical being at the last second.
One such story involves a young boy who finds a leprechaun, and agrees to let him go only if he tells him where his treasure is hidden.
The leprechaun reluctantly agrees, then leads him to a clearing in the woods. Pointing to one tree, he says the treasure is hidden underneath.
The boy realizes he will need a shovel to retrieve the treasure, but is nervous to leave the tree.
He then ties a red string around it, and instructs the leprechaun not to untie the string. The leprechaun agrees.
When the boy returns, however, the leprechaun has tied red strings around all the trees!
Now they are indistinguishable, and the boy never gets his treasure.
Are Leprechauns Good or Evil?
With all these tales of trickery, one has to wonder if leprechauns are cute and innocent, or more malicious in their intent.
This is a commonly debated topic in the fairy fandom.
Celtic mythology has no shortage of fairies and pixies. (go to Celtic Tattoos for more!)
In fact, there are even tales of ancient mythological races that ruled Ireland before humans ever arrived.
One of these races was known as Tuatha Dé Danann, and leprechauns are said to be part of this story.
In these stories and others, wee folk are never considered “good” or “bad.”
Sometimes they help humans, sometimes they get a kick out of messing with them.
In the case of the leprechaun, the stories of their mischief only come from situations where humans are trying to take their treasure- so perhaps it’s justified!
How did Leprechaun Stories Get to America?
St. Patrick’s Day is a perfect example of how deeply embedded leprechauns are with American pop culture.
Every year on March 17th people dress up in their greenest outfits, don red beards, and hit up all the Irish pubs in town.
This open celebration of Irish culture and folklore came from the “melting pot years” in the US. Between 1820 and 1930, around 4.5 million Irish people came to claim their part of the American dream.
Unfortunately there was a lot of Xenophobia toward new immigrants during that time, and one of the main groups affected were the Irish.
In an effort to be better understood, the Irish people then began opening up their St. Patrick’s Day celebrations to the Americans and introducing them to their culture.
Though leprechauns were really just a footnote on an incredibly rich folk history, Americans seemed to love the little fellas.
It was in the late 50’s/early 60’s that leprechauns made their way into movies (and cereal bowls!) which had the effect of softening everyone’s perception of the Irish people.
What Do Leprechaun Tattoos Symbolize?
So we know that leprechauns are tiny little red headed Irish men with big pots of gold, but what does all that mean?
To some- that’s where it ends. Leprechaun stories can exist just for fun, and that’s as deep a reason some people need to get a leprechaun tattoo.
To others, they want their tattoo to have spiritual meaning.
Leprechauns are typically a symbol of good luck.
Having a leprechaun tattoo may mean you’re that rare person who has “caught” one of these curious fairies, meaning you must be very lucky indeed!
If you believe leprechauns to be evil, perhaps you have one as a tattoo because you feel a tattoo of an evil creature wards off other malevolent energies.
They can also be a warning not to get too greedy!
Most people who catch a leprechaun also fall into his little traps, both intellectual and physical.
The Color Green: of course, the original leprechauns sometimes wore red, but now they are virtually unrecognizable without that shamrock shade.
Four Leaf Clover: these are an incredibly lucky symbol in Ireland, and often literally go hand in hand with this Irish character.
Rainbows and Pots of Gold: naturally, you’ll want these signature symbols as part of your leprechaun tattoo!
Leprechaun Tattoo Designs
Black-work Leprechaun Tattoos
Illustrative Leprechaun Tattoos
Neo-traditional Leprechaun Tattoos
New School Leprechaun Tattoos
Realistic Leprechaun Tattoos
Sketchy Leprechaun Tattoos
Watercolor Leprechaun Tattoos
Leprechaun Tattoo Ideas
Does the leprechaun have a special meaning to you?
He makes a great tattoo for people with Irish heritage, or folklore enthusiasts who want a little luck in their lives.
Browse our tattoo gallery for some of the best leprechaun tattoos online!
Angry Leprechaun Tattoos
Fighting Leprechaun Tattoos
Drunk Leprechaun Tattoos
Leprechaun Tattoo with Gun
Evil Leprechaun Tattoos
Small Leprechaun Tattoos
Chilling Leprechaun Tattoos
Cartoon Leprechaun Tattoos