Donald Trump’s presidential campaign has stirred some pretty strong emotions among Irish people, with many worried about the impact President Trump would have on the world if he's elected.
So extreme is the Irish fear that the GOP frontrunner will become President, a recent survey found that 81% of Irish people felt the world will be a less safe place if he enters the White House and almost a third stated they would be unwilling to travel to the US if that was to happen.
The Irish are not exclusively anti-Trump, however, and there is one small town in particular where the people would love to see Donal Trump defeat his rivals in the coming months.
You may remember the outraged reaction when the Trump-owned Doonbeg golf course made an unfortunately timed planning request for a wall around the golf course, just weeks after the billionaire stated he would build a wall along the US border with Mexico.
It seems that despite some protests to the sea barrier that will stop the golf course eroding into the sea, Trump is a popular man in Doonbeg (or at least significantly more popular than he is in many other parts of Ireland).
Acquiring the hotel at a steal in 2014 (he spent only an estimated $9.9), Trump has invested an additional $16.3 million (€15 million) in Doonbeg, boosting the regional tourism economy by $15.7 million (€14.5 million).
Trump’s representative in Ireland, TIGL Ireland Enterprises Ltd, also revealed recently that the hotel has hopes of hosting the Irish Open golf tournament in Doonbeg in the future, which would mean a massive $41.2 million (€38 million) bonus for the west Clare region between 2017 and 2024... if the wall can be put in place that is.
Employing around 200 people in the local area, Trump’s Doonbeg hotel and golfcourse is the second largest employer in west Clare, making it easy to see why locals are happy he blew their way, even if he does think of them as “small potatoes,” as he said in a recent interview.
"We've had so much publicity so far but imagine if he got into the White House, that publicity would jump 10-fold and be great for the place," John O'Dea, chairman of the Doonbeg Community Development group, told the Irish Independent.
Since buying the hotel during Ireland's economic slump, Trump International Hotel in Doonbeg has brought great business to the town in terms of construction work and through an increase in tourists.
"Sure it's been fantastic for us and the other businesses in the village. On a Wednesday night during the summer, our place is packed as we have a good band and loads of the guests from the resort come down for the night,” said Bridget Tubridy, who runs Tubridy's Bar and Restaurant in Doonbeg.
“Even during the winter, the lads who were working on the golf course redesign were eating and drinking in the village and gave us a great boost during quiet times."
Even as the billionaire continues to incite controversy in his remarks Stateside, the residents of this town are not so quick to write him off as a bad egg.
“I don't know, to be honest, you can't say how someone is thinking but I know for us, it's been hugely beneficial and I just hope he stays here," Tubridy continued.
"Trump is Trump and there'll always be those who don't support him, I suppose. But as business people here, we'd be happy if he became President, though if he did he probably wouldn't be allowed have anything to do with the resort for a while."
There are still dissenters, of course. Local man Jerry still believes Trump is dangerous, no matter what he has done for the Doonbeg economy.
"The man is dangerous, perhaps the most dangerous man in the world, and for me we've crossed a line by having his likes here,” he said.
“We rolled out red carpets and would do anything for his money, I really don't agree with it at all."
His girlfriend Siobhán is loath to agree, however. "Look, there are over 200 people employed by him here, and otherwise so many young people would have to leave,” she argues.
“It's all well and good to talk about politics and the White House, but people here need to keep the bills paid and a roof over their head. Trump's money keeps them in West Clare.
“I don't like him but, like most locals, I like his money."
Despite the protestations of some local environmental groups, locals even feel that the request for a wall is a reasonable one if it will protect the golf course and in turn ensure future investment by Trump in the west Clare area.
Tubridy continued: "He (Trump) is spending a lot of money up there (at the resort) and has plans to build conference facilities and a swimming pool but getting the all-clear to combat the coastal erosion is key and I hope he gets that."
"If the council and planning bodies turn Trump down, he'd be entitled to pack up and leave, but it would be a very dark day for everyone living around here. Sure the development won't cost the council or taxpayer a cent. We'd be foolish to stand in the way of it," said another Doonbeg local.
Consultants acting on behalf of Donald Trump warn Clare County Council that planning permission to build a wall along the beach at Doughmore Bay, a stretch along the billionaire’s golf course, must be granted if his investment in the golf resort is to continue.
The consultants suggest that unless a 200,000-ton “wall” of rock is put in place to protect sand dunes in the coastal golf course from the impact of the Atlantic Ocean, the 400-acre Doonbeg Lodge and Golf Course may be forced to close.
Warning of the consequences of not allowing the Trump resort to protect its land, the planning application wrote that its refusal would have "a permanent and profound negative economic impact" on the local area.
"The failure to protect this asset would have a profound adverse and permanent effect on the local economy," they added.
The purpose for the wall is to prevent the golf course being washed away by future storms. In 2014 alone storms eroded sand dunes along the coastline by as much as 19 to 26 feet in places.
Environmentalists have criticized Trump’s plan, however, and previous attempts made by the billionaire and his Irish consultants to dump rock and erect metal bars in order to ebb the tide of erosion have been prevented.
A final decision on the wall will be made by An Bord Pleanála (Ireland’s planning authority) on April 18.
Here are some of the public's thoughts on the matter - do you agree?
@Tr16ia I would never spend any money in a Trump establishment. Would love to play at Doonbeg but not so long as it is owned by him.— Paul O'Brien (@WestCorkPaul) April 3, 2016
H/T: Irish Independent
*Originally published in April 2014.