The word appears in a criticism by BP Fallon of the commercialized
Irish dance shows such as Riverdance. In a television documentary
Emerald Shoes (UTV, 1999), he said: "Irish dance and music as
exemplified by Riverdance and Michael Flatley are no more
authentically Irish than shillelagh sticks covered in Formica on sale
at the airport. Riverdance and Michael Flatley, bless their hearts,
are really our version of green Guinness, continuing the
leprechaunisation of Ireland."
Quoted in an interview with Dr John on the Celtic Café web site
I understand his use of the word to mean an inauthentic and trite
presentation of Irish folk culture geared to commercialise it and make
it more palatable to the mass media and mass tourism.
The leprechaun himself has been trivialised into a little man dressed
in green, who delights in pranks, but also brings luck and can even
lead you to a pot of gold.
For example, a typical image:
However, his origin is the great Celtic sun and fertility god, Lugh:
Lugh, God of All Skills, is known as the "Bright or Shining One." He
is called Samhioldáánach, "equally skilled in all the arts," and is
the patron of craftsmen and artists. As the god Lug Lamfhota, roughly
meaning bright and long-armed, he is associated with both the Sun and
agricultural fertility. He is a hero of the Tuatha De Danann in their
later years. Lugh was the father of the famous Celtic hero Cu
Chulainn. Though he was later replaced by St. Michael and St. Patrick,
Lugh remained in folk memory as Lugh-chromain ("little stooping
Lugh"), or Leprechaun.