Danu, Mother of the Leprechauns


To call the great Celtic goddess Danu mother of the leprechauns might sound strange. The legendary ‘little people’ generally depicted as tiny old men in green coats, in fact, are a far cry from the mysterious early Celtic races with their formidable and often scary deities. Yet in Irish mythology the now world-famous leprechauns are actually said to descend from the Tuatha De Danann (Children of Danu), a race thought to have descended from the gods, of which Danu was the Great Mother. Legend has it, in fact, that during one of the invasions of Ireland¬† the Tuatha De Danann shape-shifted into the elusive Sidhe race of magical people that through the ages evolved into what today are known as leprechauns, ‘faery folk‘ or ‘little people’.

Riders of the Sidhe - detai

Detail of ‘The Riders of the Sidhe’ by John Duncan, 1911.

The origins of Danu, mother of the leprechauns or the Sidhe, are more complex. Said to have literally suckled the gods, Danu is the oldest Irish deity and the Mother of all things. Originally a water goddess, in Irish her name means ‘swift-flowing’, and as such she bears many similarities to the Hindu goddess Danu, or Da, a name meaning ‘waters of heaven’ in Sanskrit and ‘unknown’ in Hindi. Da reflects also in the Greek Demeter (‘Mother of Da’), who was herself originally a water goddess, while the river Danube in Central Europe is believed to have taken its name from the goddess Danu.

One Response to Danu, Mother of the Leprechauns

  1. Cynthia Moffett-Myers says:

    Only recently have I found out that I am a decendent of the “McPheeters” family, the “Campbells” & the “Moffetts” (Moffat). For many years I have had an interest in the history of the people of Scotland & Ireland. Thank you for the information you have provided.

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