Trump sons go on Doonbeg pub crawl and thank locals for ‘incredible’ support
Eric and Donald jnr claim Irish support for their father’s visit ‘outweighed’ protests ‘by 10 to 1’
US president Donald Trump’s sons praised the people of Clare as “incredible” for supporting their Doonbeg golf resort and claimed that Irish support for their father’s visit “outweighed” any protests.
Donald jnr and Eric spoke as they walked up the main street of the small west Clare village on a crawl of Doonbeg’s four pubs, buying locals drinks and thanking them for their support of the family’s hotel and golf club.
Local backing for the resort since Donald Trump bought it in 2014 had been “unbelievable,” said Eric on Wednesday night.
“It is everything,” continued his brother Donald jnr, in response to a question from The Irish Times. “It has been incredible. It always has been from day one when we took a chance on Ireland.”
Asked about the protests against their father’s two-night visit to Ireland, the brothers said that they had seen “a lot of American flags, even in London” and “a lot of Irish flags” flying in Co Clare.
“The press won’t talk about it. They won’t report on it. They totally ignore it but it outweighed the protests by 10 to one,” said Donald jnr, echoing his father’s regular claims downplaying opposition towards him.
The brothers went further, castigating the media from behind the counter in Tubridy’s bar - their third stop of the night - for trying “to find the one guy who will say something bad and then he is the star of the show.”
Donald jnr said that they could not find anyone like that in Doonbeg, to cheers from the people in the pub.
Holding the American flag draped on the wall behind Tubridy’s bar, Eric said: “We came off Air Force One earlier and everywhere we looked we saw all American flags with Irish flags. That’s a beautiful thing.”
The Trump family are popular in west Clare because of the 300 jobs the Trump International group sustains at the nearby hotel and golf resort and the business it brings to suppliers, pubs and restaurants in the area.
Locals packed each of the pubs as the brothers stopped to chat to the people of Doonbeg and pose for selfies, while buying a round of drinks for every customer in each of the four bars they visited.
Donald jnr did not respond to questions from reporters as he walked between pubs about whether his father understood the complexity of the Irish Border and the Northern Irish peace process.
The questions came after the US president earlier at a press conference with Taoiseach Leo Varadkar at Shannon Airport, compared Brexit fears about the return of a hard border with the US border with Mexico.
‘A brilliant night’
The two brothers made small talk with locals as they arrived with a heavy security presence of armed gardaí and US secret service agents patrolling their every move through throngs of local people hoping to greet them.
“Does Doonbeg love Trump?” Eric shouted to the crowd at Morrissey’s pub, their first stop.
“Yeah!” the crowd shouted back.
Donald jnr joked with local children that it was “a little late” for them to be out and promised to give them a pass for their teachers, which he would “get my father to sign.”
Speaking to The Irish Times, he described Doonbeg as “one of my favourite places - it just feels really great, feels like home.” Asked if his father was pleased to be back in the village, he said: “He’s here, right?”
The brothers were given a framed painting of the two castles in Doonbeg in The Igoe Inn by the local parish priest Fr Joe Haugh, a supporter they praised in a number of the pubs they visited.
“It was a brilliant night. All the pubs were packed. They were so friendly and full of fun,” said Caroline Kennedy, co-owner of the Igoe Inn pub and restaurant.
Joe Russell, managing director of the Trump resort at Doonbeg, said that the two brothers were eager to see the village festooned with American flags on their first night once they heard about it on their arrival from the UK.
“They said they were not going to bed until they came down to the village," he told The Irish Times.
Mr Russell, who will play golf with Mr Trump at Doonbeg on Friday before he leaves for the US, said Mr Trump had questioned whether he had doubted him on his promise to return to Doonbeg as US president.
“Well did you think I would do it?” he asked Mr Russell.
“I said I knew you were going to do it,” the resort’s manager replied.
The Doonbeg boss said that Mr Trump insisted on flying over the golf course in Marine One on his flight into the resort from Shannon Airport after meeting Mr Varadkar.
“He loves the property. He really wanted wanted to get back to have a look over it. He was pointing out the various greens,” said Mr Russell, citing a conversation he had with someone who travelled with Mr Trump.
The Doonbeg general manager said he did not think that Mr Trump would make it down to the village.
“He is up early in the morning. He’s not a drinker,” he said.
Brendan Murphy, director of membership at the Doonbeg resort who accompanied the Trump brothers around the village, described the reception they received in the village as “unbelievable.”
“I have never seen anything like this and I have been working here for 17 years. It is exceptional. It is fantastic. It just shows you what the Trump family means to Doonbeg,” he said.
The resort’s club professional Brian Shaw, who with Mr Murphy and will play golf against Mr Trump and Mr Russell on Friday, said that the village’s reaction was “very emotional” and it affected the brothers, too.
“There’s a little bit of emotion. I can see it running through them; they are very, very impressed,” he said.
“They are lovely lads. They have put their heart and souls into the project and the project is the community.”
The locals were thrilled too. Two of the younger locals, Jack Kelly Killeen and Enda Mullins from the nearby village of Cree were delighted to have managed to snag a selfie with the Trump brothers.
“We will show it off to our friends,” said Mullins.
“They loved it; I think they loved the secret service more,” said Kelly Killeen’s mother Bernie.
Another local woman Mary Tubridy said that the Trump resort “makes the village and makes the area.” She still hopes Mr Trump will come to the village before he departs for the US on Friday.
“It would be the making of the whole visit,” she said.
Hugh McNally, owner of Morrissey’s - the first pub on the Trump brothers’ pub crawl - was also hopeful of a presidential visit.
“It is the first day into a three-day trip,” he said, optimistically.
The reception the family received so far contrasted sharply with the protests elsewhere in Co Clare, he said.
“You look out here and actions speak louder than words. You saw hundreds of people lining the streets,” he said.