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Sasha and Malia Obama, were their mother, Michelle

Obama daughters reading Irish folktales

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Sasha and Malia Obama, were their mother, Michelle

Guess what President Barack Obama’s two daughters, Malia and Sasha, are reading right now?

Chances are, at least one of them is reading a book called “The Keeper of the Crock of Gold.” The copies of the book were presented to the President by the Irish Prime Minister Brian Cowen as a gift to his daughters during the recent St. Patrick’s Day reception at the White House.

Native Irishwoman Bairbre McCarthy, who now leaves in Saratoga Springs, New York, is the book’s author.  It’s an illustrated collection of 10 stories of leprechauns and is published by publishing house called Mercier Press, based in Ireland.

McCarthy found out that her book was soon to be on the White House reading list when an Irish government official called her the day before St. Patrick’s Day to let her know.

“I’m so very happy that this book has been chosen as a representative of Irish culture,” said McCarthy, a County Clare native. “These stories provide a great example of Irish tradition and heritage, transporting kids into an enchanted land full of magic and history.”

Her publishers, Mercier Press, said that they were “delighted to have one of our books chosen to represent our country on the occasion of our Prime Minister’s first visit to the Obama’s White House.”

Her book was published in 2007 and it consisted of three traditional Irish folktales, and seven original Irish stories. McCarthy told her local paper that she wanted to give leprechauns more respect than they traditionally receive.

“If you had a pot of gold, I don’t think you’d be so willing to give it up,” she said. “And so the stories very much focus on that: If you treat the leprechaun with respect, you get some very good results.  I guess I was standing up for leprechaun rights in my book.”

McCarthy came to Saratoga in 1980, when she spent a summer working at its racecourse. She met her husband and remained in the area since, but travels home frequently to Ireland. She has written several books on Irish mythology and has also taught Irish history and language.

 “When you grow up in Ireland, we’re really steeped in this,” she said. “It’s taught in the schools at a very early age that it’s part of our heritage.

“I think if you’ve been to Ireland people will tell you, everyone in Ireland is a story teller.”

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