Wednesday 17 January 2018

Local jobs are the Donald's trump card

HOPEFUL: Donal Trump pictured at Doonbeg in west Clare. Photo: Kip Carroll
HOPEFUL: Donal Trump pictured at Doonbeg in west Clare. Photo: Kip Carroll

Graham Clifford and Joanna Kiernan

"It's all well and good to talk about his views on world politics, but that's not much use to a young lad around here whose only hope of a job is up at the hotel," explained a Doonbeg farmer.

Like many more in this picturesque, but isolated, village in west Clare, he sees Donald Trump as an employer rather than as a potential "leader of the free world".

A smooth tarmac road leads you into Doonbeg these days - "You do know why this road is like this, I presume?" asks one local, before answering her own question "That was Trump's doing, it was bumpy out before he arrived - sure we're delighted."

So when the presumptive Republican presidential nominee comes back to this corner of west Clare and the recently re-developed golf course at the Trump Resort, the locals will be out in numbers to welcome him.

As the Doonbeg Jazz Festival brings punters into the village this weekend, the event's coordinator Caroline Kennedy said he would be welcomed with open arms.

Tommy Commerford of the Doonbeg Fishman's Association said locals aren't bothered by his outlandish comments despite the fact that just days earlier Enda Kenny described Trump's utterings as "racist and dangerous".

Not only is Doonbeg ready to welcome Trump back, but many want to see him go all the way, blow Hillary out of the water, and get to the Oval Office.

John O'Dea, of the Doonbeg Community Development Group, told me: "We've had so much publicity so far but imagine if he got into the White House?"

He said all the publicity, inward investment and increase in tourist numbers were badly needed.

He said: "Other than Moneypoint [the power station], the Trump Doonbeg resort is the biggest employer in west Clare. Just think about that. Without it, so many would have to leave the area and our communities would shrink."

Even those who strongly disagree with Trump's rhetoric concede that having a hotelier with such a world profile might be good for business.

Locals also support Trump's plans for a €10m rock barrier along the stunning Doughmore beach in Doonbeg.

In Tubridys' bar, owners Bridget and Tommy Tubridy are looking forward to the return of Trump.

His offspring has sipped pints here in the recent past. "Yes, Donald Junior popped in here for a pint around the time they bought the resort. He was a lovely man," says Bridget.

Michael Hanrahan has more reason than most to support Mr Trump's US presidential bid as the artist-in-residence at the Trump International Golf Links.

Michael is hoping to have 'The Donald' sit for his first portrait.

"I haven't had the chance just yet, but I would love to paint Mr Trump and hope to do so when he visits.

"The way things are looking it could end up being my second painting in the White House."

Michael is the only living Irish artist to have his work included in the British Royal collection at Buckingham Palace - his painting of the queen and President McAleese at the Garden of Remembrance acquired in August 2011 and his painting of President Michael D Higgins's visit to the UK in 2014.

Another of Michael's paintings, an impressionist portrayal of US President Barack Obama's visit to his ancestral home of Moneygall, currently hangs in the White House.

Sunday Independent

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