The Little Shoe

Kate Farrell (author of Story Power) shares another mythical folktale- this time- about an Irish Leprehaune who makes shoes.

“Now tell me, Molly,” said Mr. Coote to Molly Cogan, as he met her on the road one day, close to one of the old gateways of Kilmallock. “Did you ever hear of the Cluricaune?”

“Is it the Cluricaune? Why, then, sure I did, often and often; many’s the time I heard my father, rest his soul! tell about, ’em over and over again.”

“But did you ever see one, Molly—did you ever see one yourself?”

“Och! no, I never see one in my life; but my grandfather, that’s my father’s father, you know, he see one, one time, and caught him too.”

“Caught him! Oh! Molly, tell me how was that?”

“Why, then, I’ll tell you:”

My grandfather, you see, was out there above in the bog, drawing home turf, and the poor old mare was tired after her day’s work, and the old man went out to the stable to look after her, and to see if she was eating her hay.

When he came to the stable door there, my dear, he heard something hammering, hammering, hammering, just for all the world like a shoemaker making a shoe, and whistling all the time the prettiest tune he ever heard in his whole life before.

Well, my grandfather, he thought it was the Cluricaune, and he said to himself, says he, “I’ll catch you, if I can, and then I’ll have money enough always.”

So he opened the door very quietly, and didn’t make a bit of noise in the world that ever was heard; and he looked all about, but the never a bit of the little man he could see anywhere, but he heard him hammering and whistling, and so he looked and looked, till at last he see the little fellow.

And where was he, do you think, but in the girth under the mare; and there he was with his little bit of an apron on him, and his hammer in his hand, and a little red nightcap on his head, and he making a shoe.

He was so busy with his work, and he was hammering and whistling so loud, that he never minded my grandfather till he caught him fast in his hand.

“Faith, I have you now,” says he, “and I’ll never let you go till I get your purse—that’s what I won’t; so give it here to me at once, now.”

“Stop, stop,” says the Cluricaune, “stop, stop, says he, till I get it for you.”

So my grandfather, like a fool, you see, opened his hand a little, and the little fellow jumped away laughing, and he never saw him any more, and the never a bit of the purse did he get, only the Cluricaune left his little shoe that he was making.

My grandfather was mad enough, angry with himself for letting him go; but he had the shoe all his life, and my own mother told me she often see it, and had it in her hand, and ’twas the prettiest little shoe she ever saw.

“And did you see it yourself, Molly?”

“Oh! no, my dear, it was lost long afore I was born; but my mother told me about it often and often enough.”

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And if you don’t believe the tale….

There is nothing very strange in the circumstance of Molly’s grandfather becoming the possessor of a Cluricaune’s shoe, for even in the present century, when these little people are supposed to have grown more shy and cautious of letting themselves be seen or heard, persons have been fortunate enough to get their shoes, though the purse still eludes them.

In a Kilkenny paper, published not more than three years ago, there was a paragraph (which paragraph was copied into most of the Irish papers) stating that a peasant returning home in the dusk of the evening, discovered one of these little folk at work, and as the workman, as usual, contrived to make his escape, the peasant secured the shoe to bear witness of the fact, which shoe, to satisfy public curiosity, lay for inspection at the office of the said paper. It is therefore not impossible that this specimen of Cluricaune cordwainry may still exist.

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Source: Thomas Crofton Croker, Researches in the South of Ireland, Illustrative of the Scenery, Architectural Remains, and the Manners and Superstitions of the Peasantry (London: John Murray, 1824).

Note: Cluricaune or Leprehaune is the name given to the Irish Puck. The character of this goblin is a compound of that of the Scotch Brownie and the English Robin Goodfellow. He is depicted (for engraved portraits of the Irish Leprehaune are in existence) as a small and withered old man, completely equipped in the costume of a cobler, and employed in repairing a shoe.

A paragraph recently appeared in a Kilkenny paper stating, that a labourer, returning home in the dusk of the evening, discovered a Leprehaune at work, from whom he bore away the shoe which he was mending; as a proof of the veracity of his story it was further stated, that the shoe lay for the inspection of the curious at the newspaper office.


Story Power by Kate Farrell

Story power

Secrets to Creating, Crafting, and Telling Memorable Stories

Stories are everywhere. The art of storytelling has been around as long as humans have. And in today’s noisy, techy, automated world, storytelling is not only prevalent—it’s vital. Whether you’re interested in enlivening conversation, building your business brand, sharing family wisdom, or performing on stage, Story Power will show you how to make use of a good story.

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