There was once a young, selfish leprechaun named Liam. Although he had a giant pot of gold hidden at the end of the rainbow, he was known for being extremely stingy.
One day, an ugly, old hag came up to him and said, “Excuse me young fellow, my name is Ciara, and I would greatly appreciate it if you could lend me some gold to save my poor, dying brother.”
“Gread leat!” Liam exclaimed in Irish, expressing his contempt and dismissal of the question.
“But sir, I only need a wee bit to help him,” Ciara persisted.
“Gread leat!” Liam shouted again.
Upon his continued rejection, Ciara saw the leprechaun was stingy and told him he would have to pay for his greed. Then, she suddenly transformed into a beautiful, young leprechaun.
Liam was shocked, and he quickly tried to backtrack. “Well, maybe a little gold,” he started to say, but she cut him off.
“No. You didn’t want to help me until you saw my outer beauty. You treated me no better than a dog, and so you will become outwardly what you are inside.” As she finished speaking, Liam slowly started to turn into an Irish Setter.
Liam tried to speak, but all that came out was a loud bark. He began to whimper, not knowing what to do.
“You don’t like being a dog?” She asked. Liam whimpered some more. “Well, you don’t have to stay that way,” she remarked.
Liam sat up and begged.
“Don’t beg. It’s not polite. All you need to do is learn kindness. Help others and if someone rewards you by rubbing your belly three times, you will be turned back into a leprechaun,” She explained.
Then she paused to consider him. “But, you’re a rather cute dog, and we can’t have anyone rubbing your belly only for looks.” With that remark, she waved her hand, and his beautiful coat became mangy. He started itching as fleas covered his body.
“Since you told me to go away twice, you will remain a dog for at least two months. Then you will be able to break the spell if you can find someone to rub your belly three times. Use the two months before you can change to think about how you treat people.” Liam growled at Ciara and tried to bite her, but she jumped back quickly.
“Tsk, tsk. That’s not a good start. You won’t find anyone to rub your belly if you try to attack them.” With that final piece of advice, Ciara disappeared in a cloud of green smoke. Liam was left all alone and itching.
Liam trotted down to a nearby stream for a drink and caught a glimpse of his reflection. He howled in dismay and sat down, itching and thinking about everything that had happened. Finally, he laid his head down, feeling depressed, and soon fell into a deep, restless sleep.
He was a young leprechaun again and counting his gold. But, as he touched the shiny pieces, they melted in his hand. He tried to grab more, but they only continued to melt. He heard someone laughing and looked up to see Ciara wagging her finger at him.
Liam woke up with a start and ran alongside the stream, trying to get away from his problems. But, no matter how fast he ran, he was still a mangy dog every time he looked down into the murky water beside him.
A month passed, and Liam was no different. He was lying by a riverbank and began to feel warm from the summer sun beating overhead on his thick fur, so he stepped into the river to cool off. He splashed around in the cool water, enjoying himself for the first time in weeks. A tiny chipmunk caught his eye on the riverbank, and he jumped back out of the water, chasing after it. The chipmunk ran up a tree, and Liam stood at the bottom, barking up at it.
After a little while, he gave up on the chipmunk and started to sniff around. He smelled food nearby, and that made his stomach rumble. He was good at finding food and was grateful that Ciara gave him the ability to sniff it out so easily.
He couldn’t recall a time before when he had felt grateful for anything. Because he always felt entitled to his gold, he’d never truly appreciated it. After he ate, Liam curled up on a soft patch of grass and went to sleep. He dreamt of Ciara. She came to him for his gold again, but this time, rather than rejecting her, he gave her the entire pot.
A second month passed, but Liam had lost track of time as dogs tend to do. He didn’t realize his curse could now be broken. However, he was feeling a bit lonely and decided to go in search of people. He walked several miles before coming upon the outskirts of a small Irish village where he saw a young girl of about ten sitting against a tree. He wandered over to her wagging his tail.
“Hello,” she said in surprise as she looked up, seeing Liam standing a few feet away. “Are you lost, little fellow?”
Liam barked back softly.
“I’m lost, too,” the girl said. “I was sitting under this tree to get out of the sun while trying to figure out how to get back to my house. I don’t suppose you know where Patrick Street is, do you?”
Liam tilted his head and came closer to gently nudge her with his head, indicating he wanted her to follow him.
“What is it?” She asked, not having expected him to respond to her earlier question.
Liam nudged again, and she stood up. Liam started to trot away, and she ran after him. “Slow down, buddy; I can’t run that fast.” Liam slowed down so she could keep up with him and walked to Arthur’s Quay lane before stopping.
“You are a smart dog!” the girl exclaimed with excitement and relief. “My house is the red one just over there. Come, boy. Let’s go.”
Liam and the girl headed toward her house, and when they got to the front door, she turned to him. “Sit,” she said. Liam sat obediently, peering up at her.
She nibbled on her lip before remarking, “Hm, you can’t come into the house because you’re all dirty.” She thought for a moment before she exclaimed, “Oh, I’ve got it!” and rushed inside, closing the door in her wake. Liam whimpered, feeling forgotten.
After a few seconds, Liam began to turn to travel back down the lonely street but paused when he heard the door reopen. He saw the girl come back with soap and a giant towel in hand, and she smiled brightly at him.
“Okay boy, come with me to the hose in the back, and we’ll get all you cleaned up,” she said while heading behind the house. Liam followed easily. The girl turned on a coiled green hose and sprayed him down before lathering him with soap and then rinsing it off.
“All clean,” she pronounced cheerfully as she whipped him down with the big towel. Liam happily turned in a circle .
She sat on the ground next to Liam, who came over immediately and licked her face. She chuckled, petting him. He rolled over naturally, and she rubbed his belly. As she rubbed it the third time, Liam suddenly began to transform back into a leprechaun.
The girl’s eyes widened, “Wow! What just happened?”
Liam chuckled, “Well, it’s a long story, but I was turned into a dog a few months ago for being selfish and had to find someone who would appreciate a selfless act I completed. Thank you for being so kind to me.”
The girl smiled at him and looped her arms around his neck in a tight hug, “I enjoyed being kind to you. Do you think that even though you’re not a dog, we could stay friends?” she asked.
The leprechaun smiled back and returned her hug. “Absolutely,” he said sincerely. As their friendship blossomed over the years and the girl introduced Liam to new people, Liam continued to learn to act selflessly and share generously, using his gold to bless and benefit others.