Trump’s loss-making Doonbeg golf resort ‘fantastic’ contributor to community, say locals

Former US president to visit resort as part of business trip to Irish and Scottish ventures

Donald Trump’s golf resort in Co Clare is a “fantastic” asset for the local economy and the community generally, according to Doonbeg businessman and publican Tommy Tubridy.

The jobs created by the Doonbeg resort and the money brought into the local economy by the guests who stay at the Trump hotel and holiday homes, and those who come to play golf on the Doonbeg course, brought real benefits to the local village and the wider community, he said. “It’s all good.”

The former US president is expected to arrive in Ireland on Wednesday to visit Doonbeg, coming here from Scotland where he has been visiting his two Scottish golf resorts as part of a short “business trip” to Ireland and the UK.

“The golf courses and hotels are among the greatest in the world – Turnberry and Aberdeen, in Scotland, and Doonbeg in Ireland,” Mr Trump said on social media in relation to his trip.


Guests staying at the Trump resort in Doonbeg were facilitated in visiting the village and the foreign nationals who had come to work and live in the locality because of the resort had brought children with them who were now going to the local schools, Mr Tubridy said. “If there was [a Trump resort] in every village in the west of Ireland, it would be fantastic.”

One effect of the resort, he said, was that what used to be a three-month season for local businesses reliant on tourism, was now a 10 to 11-month season.

The resort was bought by the Trump organisation in 2014. It has reported losses ever since while making significant ongoing capital investments amounting to tens of millions of euro in the facility. The ultimate owner of the resort is a Trump family trust based in Florida, which is also the owner of the Trump golf resorts in Scotland.

The latest accounts for TIGL Enterprises Ltd, of Trump International Hotel & Golf Links, Doonbeg, Co Clare, show that the Doonbeg resort had an average of 137 employees during 2021, the latest year for which accounts are available, and paid staff remuneration of €4.8 million.

“Despite worldwide staffing shortages, the property has managed to maintain its core staffing complement, a testament to the company’s focus on retention and employee wellbeing,” say the accounts.

The continuing upgrading of facilities at the resort were expected to increase the operation’s trading results, the directors said in the accounts. Operating profits were €509,892 during the year, a significant turnaround from the operating loss of €1.98 million in 2020, when public health measures to combat Covid-19 severely hit the business. The accounts show Government grants of €1.8 million in 2021, up from slightly less than half a million euro the previous year.

The directors of TIGL are Mr Trump’s sons, Eric and Donald jnr, and Joseph Russell, of Ennis, Co Clare. A request for an interview with a representative of the resort received no response.

Mr Tubridy said he had never met Mr Trump but had met his sons, Don and Eric, who had visited his bar and restaurant, Tubridy’s, a number of times. “They are very natural people who would sit down and have a chat with you.”

Since buying the resort, the Trump organisation has unsuccessfully sought permission to erect a sea wall to protect the resort from coastal erosion. The plan was turned down by An Bord Pleanála because of concerns about its possible effect on sand dunes. This in turn is understood to be holding back the resort’s plan for a €38 million ballroom and additional holiday home development at the facility, for which planning permission has been granted.

“The last storm [in the area] did massive damage,” said Mr Tubridy. “If anything happens to the 18th hole, there is a danger that the whole of west Clare could be flooded.”

Local Fianna Fáil councillor Gillian Murphy said it was hard to overstate the importance of the resort to the local economy and the local community. “It is a hugely important employer and a five-star, top-end tourism project. It is crucially important to the economy of west Clare.”

In a disclosure of his assets and income made in the US last month, Mr Trump gave a value of $25 million-$50 million (€22.7 million-€45.5 million) to the Doonbeg resort. The parent company of TIGL Ireland Enterprises Ltd is TW Ventures II LLC, of Delaware, according to the disclosure, which said the Irish company had an income of less than $5 million. The ultimate owner of the company is the Donald J Trump Revocable Trust, a trust established in Florida in 2014. Mr Trump is the trust’s beneficiary.

Colm Keena

Colm Keena

Colm Keena is an Irish Times journalist. He was previously legal-affairs correspondent and public-affairs correspondent