US election: Hottest ticket for a long night in Dublin

Guinness Storehouse: Politicians, media and the curious attend American embassy shindig

 

On an exceptionally cold night in Dublin, the Guinness Storehouse was the hottest ticket in town.

Politicians, political types, media, business people and just the plain curious queued patiently for the security checks allowing them to attend the quadrennial electoral shindig hosted by the American embassy.

The Guinness Storehouse on three floors is a vast space and it was rammed, but everywhere you went there was no escaping the garish screens and the deafening cacophony of CNN and the “magic wall” of Wolf Blitzer and John King.

The big attraction was the exquisitely crafted balloon sculpture of Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton created by Michael Abrahamson, aka Mr Balloonatic, a cousin of the director Lenny Abrahamson. Hillary Clinton looked unfortunately like Margaret Thatcher, a coincidence, he says.

Beside it were life-sized cut-outs of Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton. Danny Healy-Rae posed with both of them and pronounced himself fans of neither.

“The two of them have brought politics to a new low,” he said. Mr Healy-Rae’s mother is American. He counts about “50 cousins, aunts or uncles in New Jersey” and only three of them are Republican.

His sense of disillusion would be echoed by many. “If I was over there I’d hardy vote at all. One was just criticising the other. As a politician, if you have to resort to that, you have nothing to stand on yourself. Not once did I hear any of them mentioning the country or the people.”

Sinn Féin TD Séan Crowe was firmly in the Clinton camp, citing the Clintons’ work for the peace process. “Trump is an unknown in relation to Ireland, ” he said.

Panoramic view

The Gravity Bar was so full that steam was obscuring the panoramic view of the city. The place was coming down with politicians - Catherine Noone, Alan Kelly, Thomas Byrne, Eamon Ryan and Ivana Bacik were among those shoehorned into its circular confines.

As ever, broadcaster Marty Morrissey was much in demand. He was in the company of National Ploughing Championship matriarch Anna May McHugh and her daughter Anna Marie.

Morrissey is an American citizen, having lived in the US until he was 11 - though he was born in Ireland and therefore entitled to vote in the election. Would he tell us who he voted for? “No, but you can guess,” he said, adding that most of his American friends and family are Democrats.

Like the rest of us he has been glued to the television, unable to watch, but unable to look away. “I’m Irish and I’m proud of it, but I was brought up swearing allegiance to the flag. That’s what you do. It is a great country, but there’s a lot of anger there.”

There were plenty of Americans in attendance, but hardly any Republicans. One member of the media said he had heard there was a Republican in the house but she had left.

Presiding over it all was American ambassador Kevin O’Malley. A political appointee, and expects his term to end presently, regardless of who wins. “A new president ought to have their own ambassador here in Ireland,” he said.

He described the night as a “celebration of American democracy”.

A celebration is not how many observers saw this rather unedifying election. “It was certainly too long,” he said diplomatically. “The adjectives I would use more than any other was ‘long’.”

The night was young and Florida was swinging widely. All eyes were on the screen and then the party was over almost as soon as it had begun. The screens went off and the lights came on. A long night lay ahead.