Padraic Colum was born in a workhouse in Ireland’s County Longford on December 8, 1881. His original name was Patrick Columb, but in his early twenties, he changed his name to Padraic Colum to make it sound more Irish and less English. He was the first of eight children born to Susan and Patrick Columb. During his youth, he learned about Irish folklore and traditions by listening to the oral tales told by those who lived in County Longford. He never wavered in his commitment both to the Catholic faith of his ancestors and to the values of Irish peasant culture. His formal education ended when he was sixteen, and he was in many ways a self-educated man.
His family moved to Dublin in 1891, and after his studies ended, Colum became a clerk for the Irish railroads. He soon developed a deep interest in Gaelic culture and discovered his abilities as a writer. With the encouragement of Yeats and Lady Augusta Gregory, he wrote plays for the newly founded Abbey Theatre in Dublin as well as lyric poetry. A monetary grant in 1908 from American businessman Thomas Kelly enabled Colum to resign from his job with the railroads and to concentrate solely on his writing. From then on, Colum earned his living as a writer. He married Mary Maguire in 1912, and they moved to the United States two years later.
While in the United States, the Colums often wrote together. They were popular lecturers and visiting professors at various American universities,...
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