The boy who knew too much: a child prodigy

This is the true story of scientific child prodigy, and former baby genius, Ainan Celeste Cawley, written by his father. It is the true story, too, of his gifted brothers and of all the Cawley family. I write also of child prodigy and genius in general: what it is, and how it is so often neglected in the modern world. As a society, we so often fail those we should most hope to see succeed: our gifted children and the gifted adults they become. Site Copyright: Valentine Cawley, 2006 +

Saturday, January 02, 2010

Kissing the Blarney Stone

There is a legend, in Ireland, that whosoever kisses the Blarney Stone, at the top of Blarney Castle, near Cork, Ireland, shall be bestowed the gift of eloquence. Indeed, the Blarney Stone is otherwise known as the Stone of Eloquence.

Apparently, over the centuries, the legend of the Blarney Stone has led Presidents, leaders, noted eminences, such as Sir Walter Scott and entertainers of renown, to wend their way to Blarney to kiss the Stone.

A couple of days ago, Syahidah, my wife, was telling Fintan, six and Tiarnan, three, the legend of the Blarney Stone. Funnily enough, though I am the Irish one in the family (well, pure Irish...our sons are half-Irish), my wife took it upon herself to tell some old tales of Ireland to the kids. They listened, as usual, most intently, to the tales of this strange world called Ireland, where Daddy comes from - but they have never been. Strange indeed, it is - a land of legends, of leprechauns, mythic Kings and otherworldly beings. It must, to them, seem rather an odd enchanting place, besides the prosaic, predictable Singapore they know so well.

Syahidah explained the Blarney Stone, to Fintan and Tiarnan, with her round amazed eyes: "Anyone who kisses the Blarney Stone is given a special gift: they can talk and talk and talk and never stop talking. They always have something to say."

Fintan looked very serious then and turned to his mummy: "Did Tiarnan kiss the Blarney Stone?"

She would have laughed, but she is too kind to do so. So she just allowed herself a little smile.

"No, he hasn't". Yet, she understood why it might seem so for, of all the little Cawleys in the world, Tiarnan has more talk in him than all the rest put together. His tongue is supercharged with an ever flowing river of words that needs only one thing to set it flowing: that he be awake. Tiarnan talks about everything and anything, often making interesting observations or asking apt questions - or sometimes saying something quite bizarre. That he talks so much is one of the first things strangers remark about him. Yet, he does not talk in an annoying, intrusive way - he talks in a charming, enchanting way. There is something about him, that makes even the most jaded of listeners, want to pause to listen, and find out just what is going through his little head.

Perhaps, I wonder, Tiarnan might, one day, do something that requires ever flowing words. He might be a writer, or an actor, or a politician. I would be most unsurprised if he ends up doing something that requires verbal fluency of a high degree - for that is what he is already showing.

Of course, there is a deeper meaning to Tiarnan's talk. He talks because he thinks. He only speaks so much, because he has so much to say. So, in that sense, it could presage anything. He might not end up as a writer, an actor or a politician - but I am sure he will end up in something that requires fluency of thought for, after all, it is fluency of thought that leads to fluency of speech.

It is too early to tell, of course, what Tiarnan might be. Yet, it is good that my sons present such contrasts. I would say that Tiarnan speaks the most and Ainan the least. However, that is only conditionally true. Ainan can speak superabundantly, when someone engages him in conversation, though he often speaks so as to refute what is being said, to point out its logical flaws - yet, speak he does. Most of the time, though, he is quieter than the others, more involved in his own thought, than in the need to convey it to others. Fintan is somewhere in between. Together, they present quite a spectrum of talkativeness, yet all are brothers. As long-term readers will know, they are different in other ways, too. That variety, of course, provides an ever stimulating environment to their parents. In our household, there seems to be one of just about every kind of person.

One day, I shall bring my family to Ireland. Perhaps, then, we could visit the Blarney Stone - the one Tiarnan does not need to kiss. In fact, of all my sons, I would prevent him from doing so! Carry on talking, Tiarnan!

(If you would like to learn more of Ainan Celeste Cawley, a scientific child prodigy, aged eight years and seven months, or his gifted brothers, Fintan, five years exactly, and Tiarnan, twenty-eight months, please go to: I also write of gifted education, IQ, intelligence, the Irish, the Malays, Singapore, College, University, Chemistry, Science, genetics, left-handedness, precocity, child prodigy, child genius, baby genius, adult genius, savant, wunderkind, wonderkind, genio, гений ребенок prodigy, genie, μεγαλοφυία θαύμα παιδιών, bambino, kind.

We are the founders of Genghis Can, a copywriting, editing and proofreading agency, that handles all kinds of work, including technical and scientific material. If you need such services, or know someone who does, please go to: Thanks.

IMDB is the Internet Movie Database for film and tv professionals. If you would like to look at my IMDb listing for which another fifteen credits are to be uploaded, (which will probably take several months before they are accepted) please go to: As I write, the listing is new and brief - however, by the time you read this it might have a dozen or a score of please do take a look. My son, Ainan Celeste Cawley, also has an IMDb listing. His is found at: My wife, Syahidah Osman Cawley, has a listing as well. Hers is found at:

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posted by Valentine Cawley @ 1:59 PM 


Blogger Christine said...

That's sweet. Yes, they should go to Ireland someday, when they are all old enough to remember it.
When I was studying Willam B. Yeats in undergrad, I liked hearing the tales of Ireland. I would also like to go to Ireland someday, most especially Galway.

4:59 AM  
Blogger Valentine Cawley said...

Yes. I suppose you are right. There is little point in going if they are too young to garner a permanent impression.

You should definitely go to Ireland: it is a very beautiful, peaceful, serene and gentle place (countryside) and the people are very friendly compared to the British.

I hope you get the chance to go.

9:35 AM  

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