Doonbeg is ready to accept the result of the US election and a peaceful transition to Ballina, Co Mayo, and Carlingford, Co Louth, as Ireland’s most connected place to the White House.
Residents of the west Clare village, the location of President Donald Trump’s Irish golf resort and the ancestral home of his vice-president Mike Pence, value Trump’s investment as a local employer in the area more than the interest that his presidency brought to their community.
Now, with the presumptive election of Joe Biden as the 46th US president, attention will inevitably turn to the Democrat’s family ties with Mayo where one of his great-grandfathers, Edward Blewitt, came from, and Louth, where another, James Finnegan, left in 1850.
“It’s absolutely great to spread it around,” said Pence’s cousin Hugh McNally, the owner of Morrissey’s pub in Doonbeg who met both Trump and Pence on their recent visits to Co Clare.
“You had Moneygall with Obama, Doonbeg with Trump and Pence, and Biden with Louth and Mayo. It just reiterates the strong connection between Ireland and the US – long may it continue.”
Investment vs policies
In an area with limited economic prospects, Trump’s purchase of the golf resort in 2014, his employment of 300 local people (pre-Covid restrictions) and his commitment to expand the resort with €50 million mean far more to Doonbeg’s villagers than his presidency or policies.
Locals are more concerned that a sea barrier is built to protect the golf course and Trump’s future investment from the Atlantic than the outcome of the votes in Pennsylvania.
“If he fails to get re-elected, the whole place will be very disappointed for the Trump family because they have been such great supporters for us down the years. On a personal level, I will be disappointed for Mike Pence, knowing the guy and the sacrifices he has made,” said McNally.
Doonbeg pub owner Tommy Comerford said locals had no interest in US politics and that it was “nothing to us who is elected – we support them as investors in our area”.
‘Good for tourism’
A president Biden will be good for Mayo and Louth, and Ireland generally, he said, given Ireland’s dependence on investment from the US.
“We will appreciate it if he becomes the US president. We don’t want to have any animosity between Doonbeg and Ballina. If he becomes president, more luck to them,” said Comerford.
Another publican, Tommy Tubridy, said he expected a Biden presidency to bring lots of publicity to Mayo and Louth given the attention Trump and Pence brought to Doonbeg.
“If Mr Biden wins, it will be very good for tourism in Mayo,” he said.
Rita McInerney, a local businesswoman, said she did not care whether the social media abuse she and others in Doonbeg received for their public support of investor Trump rather President Trump (or his policies) might stop now.
“You don’t have to agree with everybody you do business with,” she said.
McNally expects to see Trump in Doonbeg again after being voted out but maybe as a golfer rather than as a businessman given that his sons are “extremely hands-on” at the resort.
“Hopefully he will get over to enjoy the golf course a bit more now.”