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Monday 15 September 2014

Former president flirts and flatters his way around the capital city

Sam Smyth

Published 19/11/2007 | 00:00

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Bill Clinton waves to onlookers after he was greeted by the Farrens on their doorstep.
Vivienne Dunne was among the guests in Raglan Road on Saturday night
Noel Smyth and wife Annmarie

It was more of a day for ducks than birdies when former President Bill Clinton braved the elements at the championship links in Portmarnock yesterday.

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The prospective First Laddie and his braveheart caddie led a four-ball for four saturated hours around the championship links.

Public relations consultant Declan Kelly, hotelier John Fitzpatrick and his special aide, Doug Band, all decked out in wet weather suits, gave the tee-off to the guest of honour.

Walking from the 18th green to the clubhouse four hours later, the former US President from Hope, Arkansas, looked more like the survivor of a shipwreck than the man many believed could walk on water.

After a shower, President Clinton headed for the airport with his posse of Secret Service agents and personal aides and flew off to London for another fundraiser for Hillary. Another day, another dollar.

He was still talking about Saturday's fundraiser yesterday and, according to those who spoke to him, was clearly uplifted by his reception in Dublin.

President Clinton was stopped in his tracks at the fundraiser on Raglan Road on Saturday when a guest, PR consultant Paul Allen, told him that Albert Reynolds was unwell.

Mr Allen said: "He asked if I had the number, I rang Mr Reynolds at the Mater Hospital on my mobile and after a conversation President Clinton wished the former Taoiseach a speedy recovery."

Nobody works a room, or a marquee, better than William Jefferson Clinton and he mingled and schmoozed, flattered and flirted his way though the guests.

Socialites

Hosts Brian Farren and his wife Linda greeted the guests at the door to their home on Dublin's Raglan Road with Declan Kenny, a founding organiser of Irish Americans for Hillary.

There were more Irish developers than you could shake a stick at, and an impressive turnout of socialites -- although there wasn't a socialist to be found.

Still, they had their priorities: everyone could get their photograph taken with Bill.

Brian Farren spoke and Declan Kelly welcomed the guests and introduced the former president.

He was, and is still, one of the most engaging and inspiring public speakers and held the guests spellbound for nearly 20 minutes with his oratory.

He drove straight back to the Clarence Hotel, where he met Bono and had a private dinner in the Tea Rooms with Seamus Heaney and his wife, Marie.

Earlier in the afternoon, he walked from the Clarence up to Wicklow Street, where he called on tailor Louis Copeland before taking in Grafton Street.

He had a meeting with the Taoiseach at 5.15pm in Government Buildings, but was doing his homework before shaking hands with his old pal Bertie.

His aides made very discreet enquires about the state of Bertie Ahern's political health: how he had been top dog when the former president last visited Ireland a year ago; how he had since won a convincing general election; why was he now languishing in the polls?

Still, the meeting with Bertie went way past its allotted time and, as one who has seen good and bad political fortune himself, President Clinton must have empathised with his pal.

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