Rural Irish village gears up to welcome Donald Trump
A rural village tucked into a corner of west Clare in Ireland is making last-minute preparations to welcome Donald Trump.
While the controversial US president is accustomed to protests and public outrage wherever he goes, he will be warmly greeted with smiles and cheers from the locals of Doonbeg.
The village, home to Mr Trump’s golf and hotel resort, has been bedecked in American flags and bunting to ensure the investor is made to feel welcome.
The small parish, home to around 800 people, has become the focal point of his visit to Ireland.
A major security operation has seen hundreds of Irish law enforcement officers, members of the Defence Forces, private security, sniffer dogs and the Secret Service trawling roads, fields and villages in west Clare.
Members of the navy were also spotted off the coast checking small boats.
Local residents living close to Trump International Golf Links and Hotel have been issued security passes and photographic identification while travelling to and from their homes.
Mr Trump, who is due to arrive at Shannon Airport on Wednesday, has been hailed for bringing massive employment to the area.
More than 300 staff work at the Doonbeg resort, making him the biggest local employer.
John Flanagan, chairman of Doonbeg Community Development, said he hope the president will stop in the village.
“We are planning music in the bars and doing activities like pony rides,” he said. “We would love if Mr Trump came down to the village but we doubt he will.
“If he did visit the village and shook a few hands, that would be make people’s lives. His visit is one of the biggest events that will happen here.
“What would we have without Donald Trump? You take the hotel out and we are back to square one. It would be a rural town with a few tourists stopping in July and August.
“Mr Trump is a big contributor here to local businesses. We are delighted he is coming, it’s a great honour. There’s not many heads of state that visit Doonbeg.
“He ruffles some feathers but he’s here as the president of the US.”
Walls have been freshly painted and new flowers planted to ensure the president and his wife Melania are warmly received, despite protesters who have set up camp near Shannon Airport.
Murty Doyle, who works for Doonbeg Community Development, spent a few hours watering plants in the heavy rain, and hopes the sun will be out for Mr Trump’s arrival.
“We have been preparing for him coming for a long time. We are delighted to hear he is coming, it’s great for the area,” he said.
“I hope to have a pint of cider with him.
“It’s been a big community effort to get the show on the road because it won’t happen again. There’s a great atmosphere and everyone is so happy and jolly about it.
“He’s brought a lot of employment to a small village, we would be lost without him. The protesters are wasting their time.”
Sharon Pinder, who works in a local newsagent, said there is great excitement in the village.
“He’s brought great employment in the area. We are all hoping to catch a glimpse of him,” she said.
“It’s made a huge difference to the community, it’s really important. You won’t have anyone say a bad word about him.
“His political views is a different story. Everyone is entitled to their own opinion about him but he is the president and he is going to get negativity, but we have great time for him.”
Chicago tourist Lisa Shannon, who stopped off in Doonbeg as part of her tour of Ireland, said she was “disappointed” to learn of his visit to the area.
“We don’t like anything about him. We get embarrassed when people ask what we think about him,” she added. “There’s nothing I like about his presidency.”
Caitlin Hitchinson, also from Chicago, agreed, saying she does not like his policies.
Businessman and bar owner Tommy Tubridy said Mr Trump has put Doonbeg on the world map.
The owner of Tubridy’s bar said: “It’s great he’s coming to our parish, it’s a fantastic development for Doonbeg and west Clare.
“He’s the president of America and was elected by the people so we appreciate him coming to Ireland.”