School children ‘gobsmacked’ after meeting Trump in Doonbeg

‘He was asking was there going to be any future presidents there,’ pupil says

School children from Doonbeg, Co Clare describe meeting US president Donald Trump during his trip to Ireland. Video: Simon Carswell

 

A Co Clare primary school principal declared her pupils “absolutely gobsmacked” by a chance encounter with US President Donald Trump as he played golf at his resort in Doonbeg.

Aideen O’Mahoney, the principal of Clohanes National School next to Mr Trump’s West Clare golf resort, said that she, four members of staff and the school’s children stood by the 9th hole of the hotel course in the hope of seeing the president.

The teacher and her pupils managed to secure unique face time with the US president amid heavy security around a golf course swarming with US Secret Service agents, gardaí and Defence Forces personnel. Secret service agents brought Mr Trump to meet the teachers and students after spotting the group waiting. He walked down to the children and stood for photographs with them.

“The primary school came over to see him play golf and then a secret service person came and said you can move up a bit, so then another came and said that we could go up another bit and then someone said the President wants to meet us all so he came down to us,” said 13-year-old Lucy Shanahan who was also there with the younger students.

“He was very nice. He was asking was there going to be any future presidents there, or did we like golf and all that.” Asked was she nervous, she said: “kind of, not really”

Her sister Abbi Shanahan said they could see Mr Trump playing golf and was asked about his form. “One of them landed down on the dunes anyway,” she said. “I debated whether or not to get out of bed this morning. It was unreal, so surreal. He was so sound like, he came down and asked where we interested in golf.” Their nine-year-old brother Rory said after meeting Mr Trump: “It was kind of fun”. The pupils sang the Rose of Clare. “He started laughing,” said Abby.

Ms O’Mahony told RTÉ’s News At One programme that the school children were waving American flags near the ninth green and that Mr Trump waved to them as he came up the fairway during his round.

The children were from the 27-pupil two-teacher school at Cloonnagarnaun on the west coast of Co Clare - about four kilometers from Mr Trump’s golf resort .

“They were absolutely gobsmacked; they just can’t believe it. They have just had an absolutely amazing, amazing morning,” she said.

Mr Trump asked whether the children were “good at school” and “good to do their work” and whether they liked school. He encouraged them to be “good in school and to do their work and so on,” the principal said.

“It was lovely. It was totally unexpected. It wasn’t planned; there was nothing organised. We just decided to take it on ourselves to come to the hill and maybe just wave a flag,” she said.

Mr Trump and First Lady Melania Trump flew out of Shannon Airport in Air Force One on Friday afternoon having spent two nights at his nearby five-star hotel in Doonbeg, Co Clare.

The US president played a round of golf at the course he bought in 2014, two and a half years before he became president,

Earlier, there had been speculation building that Mr Trump’s wife, First Lady Melania, might visit another school in the area, Doonbeg National School, but the visit never materialised.