Inishturk, the small Irish island off the coast of Mayo, which once welcomed visitors fleeing a Trump presidency, now has lit a bonfire to honor the election of Donald J. Trump as President of the United States in a startling turnaround.
The new president would also be welcome to visit and would bring many tourists, say the locals.
Phylomena Heaney, who runs the island’s Tranaun House bed and breakfast, said she lit the bonfire to honor the strong relationship between Ireland and America.
“I lit it for Donald Trump because the first point that we can see is America, way across the Atlantic!” she told IrishCentral.
When asked whether she particularly favored any of Trump’s policies Heaney preferred to wait and see. “Give the man a chance, I wish him well!” she told us.
Heaney, who hails from nearby Achill Island, has strong links to the United States and plenty of cousins living in Cleveland, Ohio, whom she describes herself as being “very, very close to.” One even comes back to Mayo every summer to spend thirteen weeks there with her daughter.
Heaney has run a bed and breakfast on the island for some twenty years now and while many would baulk at spending winter on a remote Irish island, she really enjoys it. “It’s lovely. I love the winter too because it gives you a chance to do all the things you want to do. I’m into art and stitching and sewing.”
Inishturk made international headlines last year when the islanders said they would happily welcome any US citizens looking to leave America after a Trump victory. Depopulation has been a problem for the island since Famine times; where once there were 577 people living on Inishturk now there are only 58 and the islanders are always looking for more people to join them.
After offering itself up, however, the place was inundated with inquiries about relocating and a CNN camera crew came to investigate. But even though Trump is now mere days away from inauguration, no US citizens have relocated, leaving some to deride the story as an example of “fake news.”
The structure for the bonfire was originally built by a visiting American professor. “He built this structure here with a group of his students in the year 2013 because it was the year of the Gathering and it was for all the diaspora and all the emigrants,” Heaney explained.