Former US President Donald Trump looks set to visit his golf club and hotel in Doonbeg, Co Clare, at the end of August.
It will be his first visit to Ireland since 2019, when he took office as president, and his first in a personal capacity since 2015. It is understood that a security operation is underway ahead of his arrival as all former presidents and their wives are entitled to. To receive lifetime Secret Service protection.
Donbeg resident and local business owner Rita McInerney said Eric Trump, one of the former president’s sons, visited the property a few months ago. Locals also noted a secret service presence in the town earlier this year, he told Brendan O’Connor’s show on RTÉ Radio 1 on Saturday.
Ms McInerney said Eric Trump, the former president’s third child, was a regular visitor to Donbeg before the pandemic halted international travel.
“They [Eric] Was here a few weeks ago and as usual visited some of the pubs in Doonbeg. He doesn’t drink himself but he was definitely out and about.
Brushing off criticism of Mr Trump’s investment in Donbeg, Ms McInerney stressed the resort had always been a great employer locally.
“This resort was started by a local development company and Shannon Development 25 years ago to create local employment. We are a small rural community on the west coast of Ireland and we have created a golf course in our area to create employment. Seen as an opportunity. It’s been great for West Clare.
“We have a very good working relationship with the owners of Doonbeg Golf Club. Doonbeg Golf Club employs around 300 people in the summer and this drops to around 100 in the winter.
He added that Doonbeg residents are grateful that a special rate is available for locals who wish to play at the golf club. Many residents also supported Trump’s plans for coastal protection works on the Donbeg property, which were rejected by An Bord Pleanála in 2020.
She says she’s a very “active and proud community” in Donbeg and that she might feel a little “defensive and stigmatized” about Trump’s links to the town.
“If you saw some social media during the tour [of Donald Trump] We had a lot of violence in 2019. Like many communities across the country, you’re just trying to survive and do the best you can.
Of the former president, Ms McInerney said she “wouldn’t agree with a lot of his politics” but he was democratically elected in 2016 and “you have to respect that”.
“People who come. [to the resort] Pre-Trump members were and will continue to be members and they love coming to West Clare – the remoteness and quality of the golf course.
He added that Trump’s planned visit – which would last two or three days – would “not make a big difference” to Donbeg. But “it will create a bit of excitement for a few days and then it will be back to business”.
Doonbeg Golf Course opened in July 2002 and was purchased by Trump Hotels in February 2014.
The five-star resort, spread over 400 acres and with 2½ miles of coastline, was foreclosed on in January 2014 due to debts attached to properties on the site.
The hotel consists of 218 hotel suites, an extensive spa and several restaurants. Filings at the Companies Office show that Mr Trump paid 8.7 million euros for the luxury resort.
Speaking to The Meczyki Times in May 2014, Trump said that four years earlier he had sent a team of architects to review the hotel.
“I said at the time, ‘I wonder if I’ll be able to buy it’, and I actually tried to buy it and I couldn’t.”
However, he said he was more than happy to buy the resort when the opportunity arose.
“It was one of those things. I closed the deal in less than five hours. There’s not a lot of people who would be able to do that.”