Sunday 16 June 2019

Father Ted's House to Loop Head - 10 things for The Donald to do in Clare

When the US President visits Ireland this summer, he'll have plenty to do in Clare, says Pól Ó Conghaile

Doonbeg Lodge, with Donald Trump (inset). Composite Image (Photo: MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images)
Doonbeg Lodge, with Donald Trump (inset). Composite Image (Photo: MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images)
Trump’s hotel in Doonbeg
Banner beauty: The Cliffs of Moher
Donald Trump at Doonbeg golf resort
Rapper Kanye West speaks during a meeting with U.S. President Donald Trump in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, U.S., October 11, 2018. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque
A dip in the Pollock Holes at Kilkee. Photo: Alan Place/SaltieSouls
Pól Ó Conghaile

Pól Ó Conghaile

Will he or won't he?

US President Donald Trump's state visit to Britain on June 3-5 has set tongues wagging about a possible Irish trip.

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If he makes it to Ireland, there would be protests, of course. But swapping the West Wing for west Clare would shine a mega spotlight on a stunning coastline.

So if The Donald does make it to his resort in Doonbeg, what should he see and do in Co Clare?

1. The West Clare White House

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Trump’s hotel in Doonbeg

This one's a no-brainer. "I have a very warm spot for Doonbeg, I will tell you that," Potus has said.

Trump Doonbeg (or Trump International Golf Links and Hotel, Doonbeg, to give it the full title) was acquired by Trump in 2014, and boasts a Greg Norman-designed golf course. He once described it as "small potatoes", but this is a quality resort employing over 300 staff who may well feel frustrated at judgments based on its owner rather than the experience.

Is it too early to talk of an Irish Mar-a-Lago?

More: Kevin Doyle: 'All Trump wants is a game of golf - and holiday snaps for folks at home'

2. MAGA hats at the Cliffs of Moher

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Banner beauty: The Cliffs of Moher

No 1 on the list of Doonbeg daytrips should be the Cliffs of Moher. The photo-op would be perfect for a Trumpian thumbs-up. But it can be windy in these parts. Maga hats will be a must to contain the presidential mane.

3. Tea at Father Ted's House

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The McCormacks' home, which was the parochial house in 'Father Ted'.

Today's White House shenanigans wouldn't seem out of place in a certain parochial house ("I'm no good at judging the size of crowds, Ted, but I'd say there's about 17 million of them out there," as Fr Sean Spicer might have put it).

Ecumenical matters aside, Father Ted's house can be visited for tea and scones - Glenquin Farmhouse sits in splendid isolation near the Burren National Park, where Cheryl McCormack welcomes guests and shares filming stories from just €10pp (booking essential, fathertedshouse.com).

Ah, go on.

4. Kick back in Kilkee

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A dip in the Pollock Holes at Kilkee. Photo: Alan Place/SaltieSouls

Mr Trump may be "the healthiest individual ever elected to the presidency", as a personal physician's letter claimed in 2015.

But being Prez is a stressful business... and nothing relieves stress like a touch of thalassotherapy in Kilkee. As generations of holidaymakers know, seaweed baths (or better still, a dip in the Pollock Holes) will take years off you.

More: Ian O'Doherty: 'We should all want a Trump visit - we could do with the laugh'

5. Tunes!

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Rapper Kanye West speaks during a meeting with U.S. President Donald Trump in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, U.S., October 11, 2018. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque

Could the Commander-in-Chief join a seisún?

We know he's partial to Kanye West, but West Clare's lively trad scene could tempt Donald from Doonbeg. His possible dates are a little early for Willie Clancy Week (July 6-14), but a quick Diet Coke (Trump is a teetotaller) at O'Connor's in Doolin or Friel's in Milltown Malbay could be just the ticket.

6. Happy Meals

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Wild Honey Inn, Lisdoonvarna, Co. Clare

McDonald Trump is cautious about where his burgers come from, but Clare could be his chance to experiment with pristine Irish produce.

What about a trip to Ireland's only Michelin Star pub, Lisdoonvarna's Wild Honey Inn? Or a sizzling steak and seafood at Naughton's of Kilkee? The Long Dock in Carrigaholt is another foodie gem… down to its homemade ice cream.

7. Avoid Seán O'Rourke

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Donald Trump at Doonbeg golf resort

Seán O'Rourke doesn't do Fake News. The RTÉ broadcaster famously asked Trump about his hair on his last visit to Ireland, in 2014. "That a**hole from the radio," Trump later huffed to the 'Sunday Independent'.

As well as hiding out at Doonbeg, Potus can escape the media by going underground at Doolin or Aillwee caves, or pursuing his passion for walls at one of West Clare's best-kept secrets, the Vandeleur Walled Gardens in Kilrush.

8. Selfies at Loop Head

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Stock photo: Loop Head Light House. Photo: Valerie O'Sullivan

There are endless photo-ops around Loop Head - from Scattery Island to dolphins on the Shannon Estuary. If we had to pick one, however, it would be Loop Head Lighthouse (above). Both it (23m) and the president (6'2") are tall, white and crowned with a ring of reddish-orange.

Say cheese!

9. Par for the course

In his book, 'Commander in Cheat: How Golf Explains Trump', author Rick Reilly calls the US president "the world's worst cheat at golf".

After shooting the fairways at Doonbeg, we'd suggest a round at the links course at Lahinch (which hosts the Irish Open in July), or Dromoland Castle, where George W Bush stayed in 2004. Fore!

10. See old Shannon's face

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Grudging invite: Donald Trump could yet take up Leo Varadkar on his promise

JFK poignantly promised "to see old Shannon's face again" before departing Co Clare in 1963. Similar to the 35th president, the 45th is likely to arrive and depart on Air Force One at Shannon Airport. Don't bank on any poetic parting thoughts, though… a 280-character broadside is more likely.

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