The Gifts: Hawaiian Children's Stories


TAOISEACH ENDA Kenny gave President Barack Obama the gift of a book of Hawaiian children’s stories by Irish author Padraic Colum to bring home for his girls Malia and Sasha.

Colum was commissioned by the Hawaiian legislature in 1922 to collect myths and legends from that country and to write them as children’s stories.

The project resulted in three volumes: At the Gateways of the Day(1924), The Bright Islands(1925) and Legends of Hawaii(1937).

On being presented with the book at Farmleigh yesterday, President Obama joked: “It just confirms if you need someone to do good writing, you hire an Irishman”.

Dr Pádraic Whyte, lecturer in children’s literature at Trinity College Dublin said: “In a global culture, Colum’s work reminds us to tell our children about the myths that unite us rather than the stories that divide us.

“This gift is also for the Obama children so that they can appreciate the stories from their father’s place of birth. Myths not only explain where we have come from, but can also guide us to where we want to go.”

Longford-born Colum (1881-1972) was an Irish poet, novelist, dramatist and biographer, children’s author and collector of folklore.

He was a founding member of the Abbey Theatre and was involved in the Irish Revival with WB Yeats, Lady Gregory and Arthur Griffith. He worked on the transcription of Finnegans Wakewith his friend James Joyce. Colum left Ireland for the US in 1914 and became a US citizen in 1945.

Mr Kenny also presented Mr Obama with a hurley, which he tried out outside Farmleigh.