May 29, 1959 – The Disneyland Anthology Episode “I Captured the King of the Leprechauns” Airs
“And so, believing Pat O’Brien to be an honorable man, I went Irish, Irish all the way. I even crossed the ocean in an Irish Air Lines plane.”
On May 29, 1959, the Disneyland anthology episode “I Captured the King of the Leprechauns” aired. It was a promotional episode for the upcoming live-action film Darby O’Gill and the Little People, but takes guests on a fantastical journey with Walt to Ireland, who has come to learn about the myths of Ireland, as well as asking Darby O’Gill and King Brian of the Leprechauns to join his film. It is notable as the only episode of the series where Walt is in the entire episode in a starring role, rather than just as a narrator.
The episode begins with Walt in his office, explaining that he wanted to make an Irish picture, as he’s always been fascinated by tales of leprechauns. After running into some problems with production, Walt turns to his good friend, actor Pat O’Brien, who claims that Ireland’s main export is good men and women. O’Brien warns Walt about messing with the little people, and sings him a little song about them. He then advises Walt on other Irish legends, including the Banshee, and tells Walt that only a real leprechaun can play a leprechaun in Walt’s film. Walt thinks O’Brien is kidding, but O’Brien is firm that Walt must capture a leprechaun. Upon arriving in Dublin, Walt heads to a folklore library to talk to a scholar. The scholar explains more about leprechauns, including their size based on an outfit in the collection. He then tells the story about how leprechauns came to be, as they were originally angels that hid from the battle between the white and the black angels, as they were too small to do battle. After the battle ended, Gabriel banished the leprechauns from Heaven, sending them to Ireland to live. The scholar sends Walt to find a storyteller named Darby O’Gill, who will give Walt all the information he needs about King Brian, whom Walt wants for his film.
Walt sets off to Rathcullen, and finds O’Gill in his home that evening, telling stories about the little people. O’Gill talks about the time he met with and was tricked by King Brian, and much to the interest of Walt. Walt questions him about King Brian, and asks if O’Gill can take Walt up the fairy mountain Knocknasheega. O’Gill agrees, and that night they set out to meet the king of the leprechauns. At the top of the mountain, in the ruins, the pair wait for King Brian to appear. They are finally able to spy King Brian’s lieutenant Phadrig Oge and trap him. Phadrig Oge offers Walt a pot of gold rather than to betray his king, but Walt refuses, wanting to talk to King Brian. King Brian arrives soon after, as he is confused as to why Walt would refuse the gold. Walt asks questions to get information, which amuses King Brian and O’Gill. O’Gill then tells the story of when he was brought to King Brian’s throne room. The two bicker during the storytelling, amusing Walt, and reminisce about other times tricking each other. King Brian and O’Gill laugh at Walt’s offer to have them star in his movie, which leads into another argument. When Walt returns to America, he goes to find his friend O’Brien and tells him of his travels, including his decision to make the movie about Darby O’Gill and King Brian, including O’Gill’s close call with the banshee. O’Brien, however, doesn’t believe that Walt actually found King Brian, until Walt offers a gift from King Brian himself.