Free golf trip for wounded US troops

Thu, Oct 11, 2012, 01:00

MORE THAN 40 Irish tourism operators have given their services free to a group of wounded US soldiers who arrive in Ireland today on a unique golfing tour.

The 14 ex-combatants, along with 11 family members and carers, are being flown to Ireland, accommodated and entertained for no cost, according to the trip’s organiser Linton Walsh.

He said he was “flabbergasted” by the response to his appeals for help, estimating that the trip would have cost in the region of €400,000 otherwise.

On a visit to the US, Mr Walsh said he had met members of the Folds of Honor Foundation, which provides support and counselling to seriously injured soldiers, and decided to invite them to Ireland as a way of promoting his new golf tours business.

But “the more I learnt about the incredible stories of these people it changed the whole nature of the thing”, Mr Walsh added.

He said the trip “will remind people in America that supporting this organisation is so important – to bridge the gap between what they need and what they get”.

Golf courses including Ballybunion, Portmarnock and Royal County Down have waived green fees for the group.

Six hotels, including the Killarney Plaza, Merrion Hotel and Dromoland Castle are giving accommodation, and Aer Lingus is providing flights.

In addition, Fáilte Ireland has provided a grant – “it’s being used for drinks”, Mr Walsh admitted – while Tourism Ireland has paid for a group of US golf journalists to join the 12-day tour.