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Western Animation / The Leprechauns' Christmas Gold

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Christmas? St. Patrick's Day? Why not both?

Everyone knows, that rainbows end in gold
Guarded by leprechauns, so we've been told
And if you walk a hundred miles to where the colors all descend
Don't give up, my friend! There's been a million dreams about the rainbow's end

Released in 1981, The Leprechauns' Christmas Gold is a Rankin/Bass Christmas special starring Art Carney.

Young Irishman Dinty Doyle is a sailor on an Irish ship called the Belle of Erin. On Christmas Eve, his captain instructs him to sail to a mysterious island to dig up a pine tree sitting on the shore. Unfortunately of Dinty, it turns out that this tree was an enchanted tree, planted there by the leprechauns to seal away a dangerous banshee that seeks to steal their gold and run wild through the world. Speaking of gold, when the banshee summons a terrible storm, Dinty believes he's done for, only to discover a rainbow peeking through the clouds onto an unusual pile of shamrocks. The shamrocks part to reveal, to Dinty's awe, the leprechaun's Christmas gold. He also meets Blarney Kilakalarney (voiced by Art Carney), a leprechaun who guards the gold.


Dinty learns from Blarney that many years ago, the gold-mining Kilakalarney clan of leprechauns lived peacefully with the shoe-making O'Clogjigger clan. However, Mag the Hag, the banshee, desperate to steal the leprechaun's Christmas gold lest she be literally reduced to tears forever, drove a rift between Blarney and his wife (one of the O'Clogjiggers) by tricking the leprechauns into thinking that Blarney is hoarding their gold and will bring the clans to ruin unless they give it away. (Especially to Mag.) Blarney refused to give the gold, knowing it was Mag trying to trick them, so the leprechauns abandoned Blarney and the angry Mag broke their territory off from Ireland in an attempt to drown the leprechauns. Fortunately, Blarney teamed up with the Lord of the Leprechauns to trick Mag into becoming tears and being sealed beneath a pine tree, the same one that Dinty dug up not knowing that it sealed her. With Mag on the loose, Blarney enlists Dinty's help to protect their gold until Christmas Day, thus defeating the banshee, but will Dinty be able to?


One of Rankin/Bass's more obscure TV specials, The Leprechaun' Christmas Gold was the company's second-to-last stop-motion animated special and the last original story to be produced by the company for many years.

Tropes in The Leprechauns' Christmas Gold include:

  • Art Shift:
    • A Shadow Discretion Shot during Blarney and Fay's falling-out in one of the flashbacks appears to be animated with shadow puppets.
    • The ocean wave that overtakes Mag as she's wasting away in the climax is 2D animated.
  • Break-Up/Make-Up Scenario: Tricked by Mag into thinking Blarney would bring them to ruin by keeping all the gold to the leprechauns, Blarney's wife Fay and Blarney himself have a falling out and separate for many years until Dinty's arrival eventually leads to them reconciling.
  • The Chosen One: Dinty becomes this when Blarney, under the influence of a generosity inducing potion slipped into his tea by Mag, is forced to give his gold to someone. Dinty is appointed to protect the gold from Mag until daybreak on Christmas Day.
  • Disney Death: Blarney and the other leprechauns believe that Dinty has been killed by Mag when they find him after she tricks him. He's only in a very deep sleep and wakes up when Blarney and his wife reconcile.
  • Earthquakes Cause Fissures: When Mag creates an earthquake when refused the leprechauns' gold, many fissures are shown opening up in the ground, and ultimately the leprechaun's land completely breaks away from the coast of Ireland.
  • Extremely Short Timespan: Discounting the flashbacks and Imagine Spot, the story takes place over the course of one evening and morning.
  • The Fair Folk: (also Wicked Witch) Mag herself.
  • Femme Fatale: Mag pulls the wool over Dinty's eyes by turning into a beautiful young woman named Colenne. Dinty is so infatuated by her that he forgets his mission to protect the gold and gives it to her without thinking about it.
  • Forced Sleep: Inflicted onto Dinty by Mag so she can take the gold.
  • Freudian Excuse: Mag wants the Christmas gold so she won't melt away into tears on Christmas morning. Doesn't really excuse the fact that she is evil and threatens to cause chaos throughout Ireland when she gets it, though.
  • Happily Married: Blarney and Fay until Mag tore them apart. Thankfully, by the story's end they seem to be on their way back to being this.
  • Happy Ending: At the story's end, Blarney and Fay have made up, the Belle of Erin finds the island again and rescues Dinty, and without Mag there to try and steal the gold, the leprechauns are free to join Dinty aboard the ship and give away their gold to all of Ireland.
  • Idiot Hero: Dinty.
  • Just in Time: With the heroes distracted by Dinty being asleep and reconciling with each other, Mag nearly gets the leprechauns' gold. Fortunately, the sun rises on Christmas morning just before Mag gets her hands on it, spelling her defeat.
  • Leaning on the Fourth Wall: The final shot of the film is Dinty and leprechauns facing the screen and waving good-bye, as if to the viewers, as they sail home on the Belle of Erin.
  • Leprechaun: Lots of them. They're all benign, and, once Blarney knows Dinty is not on the island to steal their gold, invites him in for some tea.
  • Morphic Resonance: Banshees like Mag can be quickly identified by the fact that they are constantly shedding tears no matter what form they take. Poor Dinty forgets this when Mag comes to him disguised as a beautiful young woman supposedly washed ashore onto the island.
  • Musical Episode: Par for the course with Rankin/Bass Christmas specials. Taking place in Ireland, the songs have a bit of an Irish flair.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: Poor Dinty does this twice, first upon inadvertently releasing Mag the Hag and later when he unknowingly gives the gold to Mag.
  • Nightmare Face: Dinty realizes he's been duped when "Colenne" flashes a particularly frightening one of these at him, complete with a slasher smile and red eyes.
  • Oh, Crap!: Dinty when he realizes "Colene's" true identity as Mag.
  • Sailor's Ponytail: Dinty has one.
  • Sealed Evil Beneath A Pine Tree: Mag until Dinty accidentally frees her.
  • Slipping a Mickey: Mag sneaks a generosity-inducing powder into Blarney's tea in an attempt to force him to give her the leprechauns' gold. He does drink it, but he thinks fast and gives the gold to Dinty instead.
  • Spanner in the Works: Despite being unsuccessful in protecting the leprechauns' gold, had Dinty not been sent to (and subsequently stranded on) the leprechauns' island in the first place, Blarney would not have anyone else to give the gold to when Mag spikes his tea with the generosity-inducing powder. Thus Blarney would have given the gold to Mag, and Mag would have won and gone on to terrorize Ireland instead of being defeated once and for all.