independent

Saturday 19 April 2014

On a Clare day the Trump boys reveal Cavan connection

Don  and Eric Trump  pictured in the Lodge in Doonbeg Golf Club which will now be known as Trump International Golf Links Ireland. The Trump family have bought the facility from receivers for a reported €15m. Picture: Noel Gavin/Press 22
Don and Eric Trump pictured in the Lodge in Doonbeg Golf Club which will now be known as Trump International Golf Links Ireland. The Trump family have bought the facility from receivers for a reported €15m. Picture: Noel Gavin/Press 22

"DAD, it's even better than I remembered it."

This was US billionaire Donald Trump's first report back on his €15m investment in Co Clare – delivered by his son Donald Jnr from the five-star Doonbeg Lodge and Golf Course.

Delayed by storms, and diverted to Dublin Airport instead of Shannon after a six-hour delay at Heathrow, Don (36) and his brother Eric (30) arrived at the luxury resort late on Wednesday night.

They will return to the US today after their flying visit to what will soon be rebranded the Trump International Golf Links Ireland.

But they will be back again within the next 10 days to progress the development and the "boss" will visit his new acquisition within the next two months.

The brothers, who also have a sister Ivanka from their father's first marriage to Ivana Trump, said they were financing the development from their own capital, without any bank financing.

CONFIDENCE

"That shows we have a lot of confidence in the market, in the country and in its comeback and we'll look at a lot of other stuff in the market in time," he said, adding that their main criteria was it would have to be "high end" but could be hotels, commercial buildings or residential.

And although they have no Irish blood, the younger Trumps put their interest in the country down to their upbringing.

"There's not a direct lineage tie but in our hearts there certainly is," Don Trump said.

"The woman who raised us was Irish. Dorothy Curry from Co Cavan. We spent a lot of time here growing up and she's an amazing woman."

"Who, by the way still works for our mother," interjected his brother.

"When she stopped raising us and we were out of the house, she continued on and has worked in our family for over 30 years.

"We heard more about Ireland than any other country growing up."

The Doonbeg project will be the first the brothers bring to completion in a very "hands on" approach before the season opens in spring.

"I think it's spectacular," Don Trump told the Irish Independent.

"I first saw it two years ago during a whirlwind tour of some of the great golf courses of Ireland and this was the last stop on a week-long voyage.

"My impression right after that was this is the one place that I called my father and said, 'This is so us. It's perfect.'"

He said Doonbeg only "popped up on their radar" again recently and they quickly moved to close the deal after their father's directive to "go get it".

Doonbeg Golf Course, designed by Greg Norman, was developed by cousins Charles 'Buddy' Darby and Leonard Long of Kiawah Island golf resort in South Carolina in 2002. The Lodge opened in May 2006.

It was sold to American property investment firm, South Street Partners, for €70m last June.

Receivers had been appointed to the golf club and five-star lodge that consists of 218 hotel suites, a spa and restaurants last month.

It is understood that 12 separate companies or individuals expressed an interest in buying it.

"We just went after it full steam and spent six straight nights from the day we heard about it to when we went hard on the contract and it's just been great," added the father of four, who's looking forward to the birth of his fifth child.

"The level of quality, in terms of the construction, the location, the waterfront, it was just the one that felt very Trump."

The brothers said the 240 jobs during the high season were "100pc secure" and the numbers employed would even go up.

The Trumps said they were aware of the existing public right-of-way at Doonbeg to the beach and didn't foresee this being an issue. They said they were very aware of freedom to roam issues, from their dealings in Scotland and their new championship golf course on the Meine Estate north of Aberdeen.

Neither are they daunted by the estimated €1m it will cost to repair the damage done to the course in recent storms.

"Quite frankly, construction is what we do best. We'll go in and we'll fix it very quickly and we fully intend to have the course up and operational before the season.

"I think that's what Ireland wants and it's what Doonbeg wants and it's certainly what all the employees here want and so do we," said Eric Trump.

They looked at about "two dozen" courses in Ireland as potential investments but said Doonbeg had stood out as the jewel in the crown.

Irish Independent

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