‘I have never felt this despondent’: Irish in US on Trump inauguration

Readers share anxieties and hopes as Donald Trump set to become 45th US president

Political commentators give insight into the rise of the phenomenon that is, Donald Trump. Video: Enda O'Dowd


As Donald Trump prepares to be sworn in as the 45th president of the United States on Friday, we asked Irish readers living there to tell us how they feel now about him entering the White House.

On the day of the election result, we were inundated with reaction, with the majority expressing shock and dismay. Have opinions or expectations changed in the months since? What did readers think of Mr Trump’s press conference last week? What is the mood like where they live? How do they think his presidency could affect the Irish community in the US?

Below is a selection of responses we received.

Joe Balance, New York: ‘We could be home before we know it’

I came to New York from Newry in Co Down in 2002. I started my career as a DJ and percussionist and now I run my own production company employing 45 people. I am married to a Dublin woman and we have a two-year-old daughter.

Trump coming to power is a scary thought for our family. I have held an O1 visa (for “individuals with extraordinary ability or achievement”) for 13 years. I have to renew it this year and we’re really nervous. What do we do if my visa gets denied? Will we have to start all over again back in Ireland? What happens to all the people I employ?

Watching the press conference last week, we can’t believe that Trump has got this far. You can rally feel the difference around the city. It’s as if it’s ok to be rude and nasty to people. New York is (or used to be) a friendly place where neighbours say hello.

I hope the Trump administration won’t affect the Irish living here but to be honest we have no idea what’s going to happen. Time will tell. We could be home before we know it.

Jacquie McConnell, Portland, Oregon: ‘I’ve lost friends over this’

I have two stickers on my car, one for Hillary, and an Irish one. Sadly before and since Trump won, I’ve had angry white men shout at me when they see them, “lock her up”.

As the inauguration approaches, my frustration shows no sign of abating. I have friends, men and women, who voted for Trump because they are Republican. Conservatism runs deep here, but luckily I live in Portland, which is a very left-leaning city.

Trump’s main support base is non college-educated people in the rust belt who watch only Fox News. Unfortunately these are also the people who will suffer the most under Trump, especially with the repeal of the Affordable Care Act. I’ve mentioned this to Trump supporters, and they are completely inflexible in their views. I’ve lost friends over this. It has divided houses too.

Every day people tell me they hope he gets impeached straight after inauguration, and I hope so too. At the moment we are considering moving back to Ireland.

On Inauguration Day instead of watching the ceremony, I will be playing darts on my Donald Trump dart board. Humour is important, because this bizarre show seems to have no ending.

Susan Murphy Myddelton, Plano, Texas: ‘I cried for two days’

I moved from Co Wexford to Dallas Texas in September 2002, when I was 21. I’ve been married to an American man for eight years and I love my life here. I decided to get my citizenship last year and I was so proud and excited to vote in my first presidential election.

Then November 8th happened and I felt like I was punched in the stomach. I cried for two days. The fact that so many people could look past the fascist, racist, xenophobic, sexist rhetoric Donald Trump spewed throughout his campaign left me gobsmacked. This man can’t even control his temper on Twitter and he acts like a spoiled child when he gets called out. Facts don’t seem to matter anymore, especially when you disagree with his supporters. The week he got elected, I had somebody tell me to go back to my country.

I don’t think anybody knows what this means for the future of America, since he says one thing and then says and does something different. People from all walks of life are genuinely scared, due to the things he’s threatened to do once in office. Most of us are hoping it was all talk and things will not be as bad as we fear. I’m trying to be optimistic. I take comfort knowing I’m not alone in the way I feel.

J.G. Crowley, retired doctor, New Jersey: ‘I am willing to give him a chance to prove himself’

I voted for Trump mainly because I hoped he would solve the immigration issue. The pathway to legal entry to the US for young Irish people was closed in 1965 by the immigration act sponsored by Ted Kennedy. Before then a young man with poor prospects in Ireland, such as my brother Pat, could go down to the embassy, fill out paperwork and following medical clearance could get a visa in about three months. When I wished to join him in 1970 I had to employ a family waiver. I would hope that earlier system could be reintroduced, with a quota given to all countries as decided by the Congress. In those days the Irish quota was never filled.

People who are undocumented at present could be legalised by a formula which considers length of stay, ties to the community and a clean legal record. I believe Mr Trump is a pragmatic problem-solver, and ideas like these may have a chance of implementation. Irish Times columnists have a very low opinion of the president-elect, and they may prove to be right. But I am willing to give him a chance to prove himself, and I hope that they will also.

Edward (Eamonn) Cassidy, New York: ‘The blue-collar Irish love him’

I have lived in New York City since 1969 and have witnessed the changes in American politics from the end of the Vietnam War, through Reaganomics, the Clinton compromise years, the great deceit of George W Bush to the rise of the Nativists and the undiluted racist response to Obama’s attempts to keep US out of war, and the restoration of sanity and civility to the presidency of US.

I’m sorry to say that my experience of the Irish in this city and country has shown me that the majority have always sided with the most reactionary power brokers, including most recently in their strong overt and covert support for Donald Trump. The blue-collar Irish love him. I have never forgotten my immigrant status. I wish that I could say the same about the majority of my fellow Irish immigrants.

Sean Rogers, Cambridge, Massachusetts: ‘My opposition starts with turning off my TV on Inauguration Day’

I’m awaiting Inauguration Day with fear and dread along with most of my neighbours in Cambridge and Boston. Massachusetts is a blue liberal state. We woke up in disbelief on the morning of November 9th to a Trump win. Since then the sense of loss has not diminished; what has changed is the determination to fight to hold onto the Obama legacy, of better healthcare for all, better civil rights protections for minorities, better protections for undocumented immigrants, and a respect for all citizens.

This is definitely different to former Republican wins. This is not just a different philosophy on how America should be run. The reason people are upset is that their relatives, neighbours and fellow citizens chose to elect someone who disrespects immigrants, women and minorities. This is not what America stands for. How do I explain that to my sons?

My opposition starts with turning off my TV set on Inauguration Day, supporting the Million Women March on Saturday, supporting the Irish International Immigration Center in Boston, and letting our children know that everything will be alright, and their friends will be fine.

Bill O’Donoghue, Wisconsin: ‘I have never felt this despondent’

I have been in America for 29 years and have never felt this despondent. I have worked hard here and raised a family. I have seen the racist and unforgiving side of this country, but also the wonderful caring and understanding nature of its people. Donald Trump does not represent who we are. The people he is surrounding himself with represent a tiny portion of the super-rich that will surely serve themselves, and not the people who voted for Trump.

For those who say “give him a chance”, I say he was voted in on fear, racism and lies. How can we give those values a chance?

I believe the freedoms of this country are now under threat. Republicans have both houses and are in position to take over the judicial branch, giving free reign to those that would restrict women’s rights, take away the protections of the old, the sick and the poor, and remove any controls on our ability to purchase guns.

We are in unsure times where one man’s tweets can affect individuals and corporations alike, where opposing comments and thoughts are restricted and shut down. I am very concerned and disappointed.

Des Shaw, Washington: ‘I have tried and tried to find positives’

I’m Irish-born, from Birr, Co Offaly, and have lived in the US for 40 years, the vast majority of the time in Washington DC, where 94 per cent of voters went for Clinton.

Trump is racist, is a misogynist, anti-immigrant, anti-foreign and there is no limit to the damage he can do domestically and internationally. I have tried and tried to find positives with him but have failed. We are entering dark ages and the best we can hope for is he only lasts four years.

Ian O’Casey, Dallas, Texas: ‘I’m not that worried about his policies because I don’t think he has any’

I was disappointed but not completely surprised that my neighbours and several friends chose Donald Trump as their president. I’m not that worried about his policies because I don’t think he has any. I expect as president he will increase deportations but I also hope that as the stories of the injustice that creates grow in number, there will be a return to the centre on immigration. The next opportunity to curb him will be in two years at the mid-term elections. If it’s as bad as it could be, things will change then. If it’s better than we all expected, they’ll stay pretty much the same. The election has energized the public and especially immigrants and their allies in ways that will hopefully have a positive outcome.

Carol Kiley: ‘Trump will save a lot of money for America’

My grandmother immigrated here from Co Kerry and we are proud of our Irish lineage. We need positive changes. I am optimistic that Trump will save a lot of money for America and screen immigration so we are not constantly under threat of terrorist attack. No matter who is president I feel respect is all important for the office.

Rory O’Donnell, Boston: ‘I was hoping that once elected he would moderate’

My feelings about Trump have only hardened since his election. To me he is a man who lacks any modicum of decency, cares not a whit about anybody but himself, and his arrogance knows no limits. I was hoping that once he got elected he would moderate and at least try reach out and reassure all Americans (a majority of whom did not choose him) that he would work to serve them. It seems clear The Donald serves nobody but himself. He toured states that put him in rather than reaching out to those that did not, has taken an “I won so get over it” line when asked about the overall vote, and continues to lash back at criticism from whatever quarter. I do not think that that will change once he is inaugurated. Why would it?

In this area around Boston most people did not support him. The feeling I get is that folks are steeling themselves for what the next few years will hold because nobody knows what to expect. It literally feels like a roll of the dice and hoping against hope that the country will survive his presidency

How will it affect Irish? Obviously if you are not legally living and working here, you’d be very worried. I’ve been asked myself if I would be “going back to Dublin” by a Trump supporter.

Patrick Fitzgerald, Wisconsin: ‘I’m worried about his impact on medecine’

I’m a physician. Like the majority of my fellow Americans, I didn’t vote for Trump. Since the election, I’ve only become more worried about him, especially about his impact on medicine. On his direction, the Senate and Congress are poised to financially gut the Affordable Care Act without even having a suggestion for its replacement. Trump openly questions the science behind vaccinations and is reported to be appointing Irish-American Edward Kennedy to chair a panel reviewing vaccine safety, a well-known vaccine sceptic. Trump also discussed vaccine policy during his campaign with Andrew Wakefield which doesn’t make doctors any more comfortable.

I find his anti-immigration sentiment repulsive and note that he doesn’t even listen to advice from Pope Francis on this. It is difficult for one who takes the Bible seriously to ignore the theme of welcoming people who are strangers or “other” to us. That being said, I think the 50,000 Irish who are here illegally may be all right, if only because nowadays Irish are “good” minorities. It bothers me that even the Irish in America sometimes forget that they were once the “not-so-good” minorities and somehow think the anti-Muslim sentiment is different.

Finally, I find the emerging story that Putin and Russia may have influenced the election very disturbing. Trump is in over his head and doesn’t fully appreciate what he may be in for by getting into bed with the Russians.

Kathryn Peacock, Florida: ‘We wish we could stay in Ireland for the next four years’

My great great-grandparents came from Ireland in 1825. They emigrated to Peterborough Settlement in Canada. I now live in Pensacola, Florida, and we are in mourning that Trump was elected, not by popular vote but by the antiquated Electoral College. My family and I are travelling to Ireland in July for the first time. We wish we could stay there at least for the next four years. The thought of this man as our president is almost too much to bear.

The people who voted for him are now finding out how he lied. Many will be losing their ACA health insurance which is a death sentence for some because with pre-existing conditions, they will not be able to get new coverage. The next cuts will be to our social security and Medicare. Only the wealthy will be protected with an increase in their pockets. The rest of us will suffer.

Tom Bagle, New York: ‘People are scared of what might happen to them and their families’

I have been living in New York for the past two years and boy has this town changed in the months since the election took place. I live in Bushwick, which is an area a lot of Irish choose to inhabit; I think we fit in well here with the real New Yorkers. Spirits have been noticeably lower in the area since the election. People are scared of what might happen to them and their families. But if I’m certain of one thing, it’s that us New Yorkers stick together. If anybody wants to come deport somebody like me, or one of my Hispanic neighbours for that matter, they’ll have the whole state of New York to deal with.

Gerry, Oregon: ‘I wanted to go home. I put my CV out on Irish websites’

My initial reaction was heart break, and disbelief. I wanted to go home. I put my CV out on Irish websites and talked to every contact I have.

Two months later I’m still up in the air about whether I should stay or should I go. The reality of the difficulties of finding a job from 7,500km away, combined with a glimmer of optimism of “how bad could it really get”, and similar sense of despair among many of my friends here has led to a growing determination to “make it through this together”.

Eric Masterson, Hew Hampshire: ‘He is not just America’s problem’

Clinton was a distant second choice to Bernie Sanders for me. I voted for her by absentee ballot in Nashville Tennessee, as I left my home in New Hampshire by bicycle in September to travel overland for six months to Colombia.

I have been in Mexico for the past month, during which time I have grown increasingly horrified by the president-elect. I have watched helplessly as the peso has fallen with each anti-Mexico tweet - good for me as a visitor here but not for Mexicans. Protests against the increasing cost of petrol are erupting across the country. He is not yet president, and yet he is sowing disruption and chaos around the world. He is not just America’s problem.

Joe Kelly, Harlem, New York: ‘He has no idea as to the seriousness of this responsibility’

I am 53 years old, originally from Marino in Dublin. I am a high school counsellor and have lived in the US since 1987. I was undocumented for eight years until I received my green card in 1995 and became a US citizen in 2014. This was my first presidential election and I voted for Hillary Clinton.

Like many I was devastated by the election of Donald Trump. I believe he has no idea as to the seriousness of this responsibility. The world is a very complicated dangerous place with many intricate and delicate geopolitical situations to navigate. He does not have the temperament nor the intellect to handle potential conflicts. He is impulsive, arrogant and an egomaniac. The policies he has stated and the people he is putting in place to implement them will take America back to the days of high unemployment, higher deficits and a sicker and a less educated population.

Gerry O’Connor, Naples, Florida: ‘He deserves our best wishes’

He has been elected president and deserves our best wishes. Many of his cabinet selections reflect a break with the “politically correct” past, and are well qualified. His shaking up of the establishment in the US is welcome following the stasis of the past 16 years. He seems willing to be open to changing his mind in light of new information, and shows an ability to communicate directly with the electorate.

His inability to take criticism without hitting back hard is not good, however. Change is coming, but what is it?

Dave Bresnahan, Massachusetts: ‘Complaining won’t change things’

My family is from Castleisland in Co Kerry but I was born in Massachusetts. I’ve lived in Ireland twice. I didn’t vote for Trump, but I also didn’t go to pieces when he won the way so many people did. There are things I have power to change in life, like my socks and shoes, and things I am powerless to do anything about. There is nothing I can do about the fact that Trump is president. Complaining won’t change things, and it only causes more stress, so my new year’s resolution is to not worry about it. Life is far too short. So I’m moving on with my life and my goals. All I can do about Trump is hope and pray for the best.

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