Besides shoemaking, leprechauns are great tinkers (partly because in the old days their boots were said to be made of metal) and have proved themselves perfectly equal to much modern technology. Until twenty or thirty years ago many a tractor in the west of Ireland owed its survival more to the tinkering of leprechauns than the care of the local garage, which it would not have seen for years.

Leprechauns are generally classed among the solitary faeries of Ireland as opposed to the far more common trooping faeries. People usually tell of meeting single leprechauns so it is clear they enjoy their own company, but they also have their sociable moments - their family life, clan loyalties and so on. When it comes to adopting human households, they are far less domesticated than, say, the brownies of Scotland or the kobolds of Germany, but they have been known to attach themselves to human families and even move abroad with them. That is how there come to be leprechauns in places like North America and Australia.

Most leprechauns live in Ireland though, where they have evolved a quite distinct identity from the Little People of neighbouring countries. In general they are more independent of humans, more interested in gold and more witty than other Little People. Until a century or two ago no-one in Ireland doubted them any more than they doubted the existence of the Pope in Rome.

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