Mike Pence to arrive in Ireland for first official visit as vice-president

Brexit among topics during Irish-American’s three-day stay in Dublin and Clare

President Donald Trump with vice-president Mike Pence. Photograph: Chip Somodevilla/Getty

US vice-president Mike Pence begins his official visit to Ireland when he flies into Shannon Airport on Monday.

Mr Pence will be greeted on arrival at Shannon by Tánaiste Simon Coveney in the late afternoon, marking the beginning of a three-day visit involving a mix of official and private engagements.

Mr Coveney and Mr Pence will hold a meeting at the airport.

The 48th vice-president of the United States will stay at president Donald Trump's family golf resort at Doonbeg in west Co Clare for the two nights he will be in Ireland. He will travel by motorcade between the resort and Shannon where the vice-presidential jet, Air Force Two, will be based.


On Tuesday morning, Mr Pence will fly from Shannon to Dublin for meetings, first with President Michael D Higgins at Áras an Uachtaráin in the Phoenix Park, and then lunch and a bilateral meeting with Taoiseach Leo Varadkar at nearby Farmleigh.

Among the topics expected to be discussed at their meeting are Brexit, immigration and trade.

Later this week Mr Pence will travel on to Iceland and the United Kingdom, where the UK's exit from the EU on October 31st and a potential future UK-US trade deal will also be the focus of his trip.

The Republican’s visit takes place at a critical juncture in the Brexit process, months after high-ranking US congressional Democrats ruled out a UK-US trade deal if a disorderly, no-deal Brexit undermines the 1998 Belfast Agreement, the peace deal underpinning the Northern Irish peace process.

US vice president Mike Pence greets supporters as he arrives at a campaign rally for President Donald Trump in Cincinnati, Ohio, on August 1st. Photograph: Bryan Woolston

On Tuesday afternoon, the vice-president will attend a round-table discussion with Irish and American businesspeople working in the multinational sector in Ireland at the Phoenix Park residence of the recently appointed US ambassador to Ireland Edward Crawford.

Mr Pence will fly from Dublin to Shannon aboard Air Force Two later on Tuesday before travelling on to Doonbeg where he will have a private family dinner at Morrissey’s, the pub and restaurant owned by his distant cousin, Hugh McNally.

Among those travelling in the vice-president's party are his wife, second lady Karen Pence, and his sister, Anne Pence Poynter who, along with her brother, greeted Mr Varadkar and his partner, Matt Barrett, for the annual St Patrick's Day breakfast at the Pence residence in Washington in March.

Family links

Mr Pence's mother, Nancy Pence Fritsch, whose father Richard Michael Cawley emigrated to the US from a townland near Tubbercurry in Co Sligo in 1923, will also be accompanying the vice-president on his trip.

Mr Cawley’s wife’s family came from Doonbeg where, as a younger man, Mr Pence worked one summer behind the bar of Morrissey’s pub.

Mr Pence was close to his grandfather who worked as a bus driver in Chicago for more than 40 years.

He has regularly cited his grandfather and his arrival on April 11th, 1923 at Ellis Island, the famous US entry point for emigrants in New York harbour, in political speeches.

He described him at the 2017 St Patrick's Day breakfast attended by then taoiseach Enda Kenny as "the proudest man I ever knew and the best man I ever knew".

Last month Mr Pence tweeted about his plans to travel here this week, describing Ireland as a “country that is very near to my family’s heart”.

His visit was brought forward by four days after Mr Trump cancelled a trip to Poland at the weekend. He decided to send Mr Pence in his place so he could remain at home to monitor Hurricane Dorian as it reached US east coast.

Simon Carswell

Simon Carswell

Simon Carswell is News Editor of The Irish Times