Tuesday 15 October 2019

Drinks are on Trump 'boys' - but locals denied a sight of president

Eric and Donald Trump Jnr at a pub in the village. Photos: Gerry Mooney; Clodagh Kilcoyne; Caroline Quinn and PA
Eric and Donald Trump Jnr at a pub in the village. Photos: Gerry Mooney; Clodagh Kilcoyne; Caroline Quinn and PA
Protesters fly the Trump baby blimp over Parnell Square, Dublin. Photos: Gerry Mooney; Clodagh Kilcoyne; Caroline Quinn and PA
Mick O’Dea and his horses decked out with US flags make their way through Doonbeg Photos: Gerry Mooney; Clodagh Kilcoyne; Caroline Quinn and PA
Nicola Anderson

Nicola Anderson

The crash of glass bottles as a recycling truck stopped at every licensed premises in Doonbeg told the tale.

There had been one hell of a hoolie here the night before, a session on the Trump tab as the president's 'boys' Don Jnr and Eric hit the village.

They poured a pint in each of the five pubs. There was a lot of froth involved. And everyone got a round of drinks.

"Cocktails," promised Eric at first. He would have been doing well to get anyone to whip up cocktails at that hour, with every pub in the Clare village heaving.

The offer was quickly downgraded to a 'drink on the house' for everyone.

On the brothers' rounds of the bars, the BBC put a question to Eric - was this trip a good use of US taxpayers' money?

"We're just trying to have a good time," he said, before ducking into Madigan's pub and refusing to answer any more questions.

Despite the sore heads, Doonbeg had hopes of more during this private visit - not beer necessarily, but more Trump.

Rumours had swirled around the village all day that the big man himself would be making an appearance, buoyed up by the runaway success of his sons.

But there were a few factors hampering this theory. Trump, being a teetotaller, would be unlikely to want to pull pints in the bars.

But chiefly he was already late coming back from the D-Day commemorations in France because he had given an impromptu interview to his favourite television channel, Fox News.

Then there was some business to attend to - shortly after 7pm he tweeted from Doonbeg that he had just signed a Disaster Aid Bill to "help Americans hit by recent catastrophic storms".

"Puerto Rico should love President Trump. Without me, they would have been shut out!" he wrote.

Later, the White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney hosted a dinner at the Trump Golf Resort, with guests including Dan Mulhall, the Irish Ambassador to the United States; John Deasy, the Irish Government's Special Envoy to the US; and Fianna Fáil senator Mark Daly.

Shortly after 5pm, Marine One passed overhead carrying Donald and Melania back to Doonbeg from France.

Their route meant they would not have been able to spot the Trump baby blimp flying over Dublin, borrowed from our UK neighbours.

And then they were back, safely cocooned in this corner of west Clare, where a defiantly 'Make America Great Again' mood prevailed.

A photograph of the dinner was tweeted by Stephen Kearon, a former government Fianna Fáil adviser, which showed Mr Trump in relaxed mood, with White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee on his right, while First Lady Melania was on his left.

The meal was held in the Club House restaurant which is in the public rather than the private members area of the resort and has an informal vibe, with no tableclothes.

This morning, Trump is set to play golf before flying home.

In Tommy Tubridy's bar, Vietnam veteran Thomas Leyne was anxious to catch a glimpse of his hero. From Massachusetts, he owns a holiday home here and had already been to Ireland three weeks ago.

But when he found out that Trump would be visiting, his family insisted that he go along and so he booked a flight last Sunday to come again. "I'm a big fan," he declared.

Asked what he would say to the US president if he met him, he said: "I enjoy and admire you for everything you are doing - I approve 100pc of everything he does.

"I know he gets a hard time but he's done more in two years than the last 12 years of presidential terms."

His brother-in-law Brendan Walsh was introduced as the man who had brought the first 'Make America Great Again' flag to Doonbeg.

"I love Trump, I absolutely love him. He's doing great for America," he said.

"The man is going to win by a landslide in 2020."

Walsh was having dinner at the golf club last night with his wife, daughter and two grandchildren in the hope of catching a glimpse of Trump.

"He's not what you think he is - he's a very decent man, a family man," he said, while admitting that he had never actually met him himself.

Trotting up and down the main street of the village were two cart horses drawing a trap, driven by local man Mick O'Dea.

He had been drafted in as something of a prop, to evoke olden times in Doonbeg.

"It's a hobby," he said.

He was happy with how the visit was going.

"I have nothing against the man," he said.

He had been in the pubs the night before and said the Trump sons were "nice people". "And sure we got a pint out of them," he added.

In the Igoe Inn, close to the cordoned-off road leading to the golf club, publican Caroline Kennedy said people didn't understand why locals were supportive of Trump.

"We've our own little industry down here," she said. "For us, he is our economy."

She pointed out that in a population of 1,000 people in the local area, some 300 people are employed at the golf resort. "We have five pubs and three restaurants in Doonbeg and not many villages are able to say that they'd had no pub closed," she said.

"The Trumps are putting every student in the village through university," her husband Mick O'Brien chipped in.

"We couldn't pay for the publicity we're getting."

Irish Independent

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