US President Barack Obama will have a unique present to give to his two children when he returns home from his European tour next week - a book of children’s stories penned by Longford author Padraic Colum.
Mr Obama was given a copy of the late Abbey Theatre founder’s ‘Tales and Legends of Hawaii’, charting a series of myths and legends tales from the Longford poet’s time spent in the US state during the early 1920s.
Addressing members of the media on Monday, Taoiseach Enda Kenny said he had been approached by Trinity College lecturer, Dr Padraig Whyte with a view to making a presentation to Mr Obama in the lead-up to his state visit.
In one of the day’s more light-hearted moments, Mr Kenny told onlookers he was handing the book over to Mr Obama purely for safekeeping purposes.
“In 1922, Padraic Colum was commissioned by the Hawaiian legislature to track down myths and legends of Hawaii and write them as children’s stories. He produced three volumes of children’s stories and I have the honour of presenting the first edition not to the President, not to the First Lady, but to his children,
Malia and Sasha.”
Those comments were clearly not lost on Mr Obama as he gazed down at the book’s front cover at Farmleigh.
“It just confirms if you need someone to do good writing, you hire an Irishman,” he laughed.
Dr Whyte agreed, making the point that Colum’s work carried important anecdotes about the Obama lineage and more importantly their father’s place of birth.
“In a global culture, Colum’s work reminds us to tell our children about the myths that unite us rather than divide us. This gift is also for the Obama children so that they can appreciate the stories from their father’s place of birth,” he said.
Also Longford-related, it emerged last night two buses belonging to Kenagh-based firm Farrelly’s Ltd transported members from Air Force One - Mr Obama’s personal aircraft crew - upon landing at Dublin Airport on Monday morning.
“We had two medium sized coaches (25 seaters) down in Dublin for 6am,” revealed a clearly delighted Liam Farrell on Tuesday. “It was definitely one of the more unusual ones (projects) that we have had.”
Finally, after meeting the Queen on Wednesday, Martin and Gaye Skelly from Newtowncashel were among the chosen few to sit behind President Obama while he was making his historic speech on College Green in Dublin on Monday.
The couple were sitting just a few rows behind the US President during his speech.
“It was a great occasion, we were honoured to be there,” Martin Skelly, Chairman of Leinster GAA, told the Leader on Monday, agreeing that it had been “a very historic week”.