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President’s warning to political opponents: I’ve got a hurley now

US president Barack Obama has warned his opponents in Washington he can now keep them in line, thanks to a gift from Taoiseach Enda Kenny - a hurley stick.

Mr Obama swung the ash sports stick in the grounds of Farmleigh house and suggested it might deter members of Congress from going up against him.

Holding the stick with two hands, Mr Obama said: "If members of Congress aren't behaving, give 'em a little paddle, a little hurl."

The ash stick, used to play the gaelic sport hurling, carried the inscription: "Presented to Barack Obama President of the United States of America on the occasion of his first visit to Ireland, May 2011 by An Taoiseach Enda Kenny TD."

One of two gifts, it was made by Philip Archibold of Heritage Hurleys. The other gift was a collection of myths and legends of Mr Obama's birthplace, Hawaii.

The hurley stick and the three-set volume of fairytales by Padraic Colum for Mr Obama's daughters, Malia and Sasha, were presented by the Taoiseach when the two leaders met in Dublin.

The irony of coming to his ancestral homeland Ireland to be presented with writings of his birthplace was not lost on the US president. He quipped: "It just confirms if you need someone to do good writing, you hire an Irishman."

The press pool, which included several dozen Irish journalists, roared its approval.

Mr Colum was commissioned by the Hawaiian legislature to trace the myths and legends of the Pacific Ocean islands and write them as children's stories.

Mr Obama was presented with the collection after meeting Mr Kenny at the Farmleigh estate in Dublin.

Mr Kenny said: "He produced three volumes of children's stories, which I presented. And I had the honour of a first edition, not to the president, not to the first lady, but to his children, Malia and Sasha, (of) stories of their daddy's birthplace."

Earlier, Mr Kenny joked that Mr Obama would have to come back to Ireland on another occasion to enjoy one of his sporting loves.

"Like all politicians we have some unfinished business and that is that the next time he comes back, he's going to bring his golf clubs," Mr Kenny said.