St. Patrick’s Day Leprechauns: Neil Patrick Harris, Mischief, And Being Irish

Neil Patrick Harris’ St.Patrick’s Day celebrations didn’t go quite as planned. Harris and partner David Burtka let their six-year-old twins put together a plan for a St. Patrick’s Day leprechaun capture. People reports that the kids decided to leave what they hoped were irresistible gifts for the Irish little people who regularly visit their home on St Patrick’s eve. If Harper and Gideon had succeeded, they hoped to take advantage of some of the leprechaun magic that the tricky fairy folk traditionally offer in exchange for their freedom. The Irish know better than to get involved with the little people, but they can’t help themselves. It’s all just part of being Irish, it seems.

But trouble or not, Neil Patrick Harris and his kids really wanted a leprechaun for St. Patrick’s Day.

“This year Harper & [Gideon] are offering gifts instead of traps. Fingers crossed that this time tomorrow – we will have us a LEPRECHAUN, y’all!”

Harris’ kids got the idea of enticing the little people with gifts after several years of waking up to sprung traps that the leprechauns managed to avoid. The gifts left out for the leprechauns were an interesting and possibly attractive assortment, depending on the visitors’ tastes. Potatoes, mushrooms, and flowers had pride of place, with a few extras provided by the adults in the household.

Neil was only too happy to help out with the plan (who doesn’t hope to get three wishes from a magic creature?), and he made sure that the table full of gifts from the twins included whiskey and beer. It’s not known for certain whether leprechauns have a particular preference for Irish whiskey or a certain kind of beer, but the kids thought it wouldn’t hurt to try. The popular science website,, writes that the mysterious trouble-makers are known to “haunt cellars and drink heavily.”

Harris shared an Instagram video of the spread. “Preparing for tomorrow morning’s St. Patrick’s Day Leprechaun encounter (hopefully),” he captioned the video, which he posted the day before St Patrick’s Day.

The kids even went to the trouble of creating their own video for the leprechauns to watch, where they made a plea for “guardianship and gold coins.”

Unfortunately, the wee folk didn’t appreciate the gifts. They weren’t fooled by the soft approach any more than they’d been fooled by the traps. The Harris-Burtka household woke up to a completely “trashed house,” according to Today magazine.

“Toilet paper everywhere. Cushions upended. Dining room chairs in a pile. iPad taped to the chandelier. Whiskey drank.”

The leprechauns left a message in words too, but they added insult to fairyland injury by spelling out the one-word message with the potatoes that Gideon and Harper had so carefully arranged for the wee folk.

“Never,” they said, in response to the twins’ suggestion that if the leprechauns brought a gold coin each day, the kids would make a St Patrick’s Day pact to trade the gold for a daily potato. It’s not surprising that magical beings with apparent access to unlimited pots of gold primarily located at the ends of stupendously beautiful rainbows would turn down the offer of a daily potato. Leprechauns are known to have left far more experienced negotiators than Harris’ twins in the lurch. They are the kind of folk who “might delight you one day and kill you the next if you displeased them,” and they are not to be trifled with.

Leprechauns may have gotten their name from the Irish words for cobbler, or shoemaker. Leath bhrogan sounds very much like the modern English leprechaun, and certainly the little men are known for their fascination with shoes. A Yeats poem describes the sound that a person hears when there is a leprechaun nearby.

“Lay your ear close to the hill.
Do you not catch the tiny clamour,
Busy click of an elfin hammer,
Voice of the Lepracaun singing shrill
As he merrily plies his trade?”

Some people wonder if the wee folk are the reason Irish musicians always tap their toes while playing. The leprechauns put magic in their shoes for a St Patrick’s Day gift.

Feet go to #irishsession because they like #irishmusic too. #feet #toetaps #irish #Winnipeg

A post shared by Mary Robinson (@maryrobinsong) on

For all the trouble they make, the shoe-making little people may have our best interests. Most of the legends about leprechauns emphasize their role as morality tale figures, and the stories of mortals trying to get rich quick by trapping and holding prisoner one of the little creatures bears that out.

“The legend warns against greed and the folly of trying to get rich quick.”

The Irish know perfectly well that the pot of gold always leads to a nasty leprechaun-induced predicament, but the tantalizing possibility of winning a battle of wits with the wee folk makes the challenge too difficult to resist at least once in a lifetime. Those who survive the first contest might think twice before setting up another St. Patrick’s Day trap.

What do you think? Will Neil Patrick Harris and his kids go for gold again next year?

[Featured Image by Thinkstock Images]