Yeats2015 is celebrated at the White House for St. Patrick’s Day
President Barack Obama celebrated St.Patrick’s Day with some very special Yeatsian gifts presented to him by An Taoiseach Enda Kenny TD.
Yeats2015 provided a special twist to the annual presentation by the Taoiseach of a Waterford Crystal bowl of shamrock – this year it was engraved with lines from one of Yeats’ best-loved poems ‘He Wishes for the Cloths of Heaven’.
The president also received a specially-crafted collection of Yeats poems, as part of the global celebrations marking the 150th anniversary of the Irish poet’s birth.
President Obama and Vice President Joe Biden each received the beautiful hand-printed, hand-bound book of a selection of Yeats’ poems, in collaboration with the Design & Crafts Council of Ireland’s Irish Design 2015 initiative.
Two smaller books containing quotes from the life and works of Yeats were presented to the president’s daughters, Sasha and Malia.
An Taoiseach Enda Kenny said: “This year, with Yeats2015, the Government marks the 150th anniversary of the birth of one of the great Irish poets, WB Yeats.
“In this special year, I was delighted to be able to present President Obama with gifts that celebrate Yeats and his remarkable contribution to literary history.”
Yeats2015 is part of the Government’s official Decade of Commemoration and is funded by the Department of Arts, Heritage and Gaeltacht and administered by the Western Development Commission (WDC).
The book was printed by Mary Plunkett of The Belgrave Private Press in Dublin. Mary is 1916 leader Joseph Mary Plunkett’s grand niece. She was inspired by the work of the Yeats sisters Susan and Elizabeth, who set up and ran Cuala Press in Dublin, printing many of WB’s works.
Reflecting Yeats’s links to his spiritual home of Sligo, the book was bound in green leather at Ox Bindery Press in Tubbercurry, Co Sligo.
The work was done Benjamin van de Wetering, a master craftsman, printer and restorer of manuscripts and books.
Today was not the first time Yeats has been to the White House – he stopped by to take lunch with American President Theodore Roosevelt on December 28, 1903.
The video below shows the story behind the book.