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          Once, a very long time ago, no one lived on the magical isle of Eire but the fairies and leprechauns.
          Every day they played in the warm sunlight, dancing through the bright flowers. And at night, they held parties under the stars.
          Everyone was happy, because Eire was filled with magic.
          Then one day, big ships landed and humans waded to shore. They didn't see the little fairies and leprechauns--they wanted the island for themselves. They called the magical green isle 'Ireland,' and started building large towns.
          The fairy folk were scared because the humans were so big and clumsy. They moved south, away from the noisy towns.
          But the humans built houses everywhere!
          Finally the fairy folk moved underground, to the magical lands they call the Sidhe.  *

          The fairies and leprechauns are safe in the Sidhe, because the humans can't find them. But they miss the warm sunshine and flowers.
          So they still sneak outside when the sun is warm, or at night when the moon is full, to dance and play in their magical hills.
          Fairies are very shy. But if you're lucky, you might see a leprechaun peeking out from beneath a big mushroom, or grinning at you as he smokes his clay pipe.
          Be polite to him--leprechauns like to play tricks on the "big folk." Don't eat or drink anything he gives you, or he'll cast a magical spell over you and take everything you own (even your clothes)!
          And if you try to leave his house without asking, he might change you into a rabbit or toad!
          If you can catch him, he'll tell you where his pot of gold is hidden. But he'd rather give you three magical wishes if you'll leave his gold alone. Choose your wishes carefully!
          And how do I know all this? Because my name's Connell Ruatha, King of the Leprechauns!
          So next time you’re out in the mystic hills, be very quiet. And if you look hard enough, maybe you'll see me grinning at YOU!


Written by:  Jo Grant

* Sidhe is pronounced "Shee'-ah"