Among the millions protesting worldwide against the new American president were tens of thousands of Irish also joined in. Here’s a snapshot of one of those demonstrations.
Five people showed up for a pro-Trump celebration in Dublin.
Meanwhile, into the west, Donald John or D.J. as he would be called locally, found his popularity was sinking faster than the sun going down on Galway Bay on Saturday in the western city of 80,000 souls.
Organizers in Galway were thrilled when a huge crowd turned up for their Women’s March on Saturday afternoon joining the millions across the world who gave a bleak and bitter welcome to Donald J.Trump as the 45th President of the United States.
Two separate events were fixed for the same time and place by representatives of minority and anti-war groups in Galway as well as the local Irish-American community, and the turn-out was beyond the wildest dreams of both groups.
An American woman living in Co Clare, Fanya O’Donoghue, said she came up with the idea of a Galway march while browsing through Facebook on New Year’s Eve.
She noticed that a march in solidarity with the women’s event in Washington today was planned for Dublin and she asked other American expats, via a Facebook group, whether they would be interested in a similar event in Galway.
“When I saw that they were doing one in Dublin, I asked if we could do one in Galway because there are tons of Americans living out here too,” she told IrishCentral.
“I’m absolutely overwhelmed by the response. When we put this up on Facebook we weren’t really sure how well it was going to go or how it would be received. It was absolutely heart-warming to see the huge crowd here today.”
The daughter of a military family, who grew up in Hawaii, she moved to Co Clare with her Irish husband to give a safer environment to her children as a result of the Sandy Hook school shootings.
Ms O’Donoghue said that Americans in the West of Ireland were delighted to work with local anti-racism and women’s rights groups to organize the Galway event.
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She felt that women in Ireland and the United States had a lot of common ground.
“I think Trump has threatened a lot of civil liberties which a lot of people have fought hard for, in particular the marriage amendment. I feel particularly strongly about LGBT rights. To see the social progress we have made over the past decade being threatened so quickly by the new administration is terrifying,” she said.
Hundreds turned up in the heart of the city to hear speeches from a wide variety of speakers before embarking on a march through the city centre and returning for musical entertainment at Eyre Square, where President Kennedy famously addressed a huge crowd in 1963.
“Build bridges, not walls” was the most popular slogan on the march which was attended by many young people and Americans living in the West of Ireland.
Fanya O’Donoghue was hopeful that President Trump could reform the political system in Washington, but she was also frightened that he would roll back on many issues, including gay and women’s reproductive rights.
“I knew that we were touching a chord with this and that we had awoken a sleeping giant. Women are very powerful people. When we are pushed to the corner or made angry, we get things done. What you see here is that hundreds of people have been mobilized to come out in force. I’m really, really happy with the crowd today.”
Among the musicians who entertained the large crowd was singer and TV star Sharon Murphy, who has spoken publicly about her experience of growing up as a black woman in the West of Ireland.
She said the women’s marches across the globe had given her hope.
“Some people are saying that Irish people should have no right to protest against the election of the US President. But I’m here because the words out of Donald Trump are racist, sexist, and homophobic, and now he’s got power to influence others,” she said.
She said Donald Trump’s racist and anti-immigrant rhetoric had an impact on communities all across the world.
“There is too much emphasis on how Trump is going to affect us economically, and not enough on how his election is going to affect us as people. I find it very, very frightening,” she said.
“Yesterday he said that he wants to eradicate all Muslim terrorists and bomb them off the face of the earth. That’s in his Inauguration speech. He didn’t take the opportunity to talk about Muslims in America. By saying that – and not reassuring Muslims in America – he was inciting fear again. And that’s what he does. He incites fear.”
Murphy claimed those who defended Trump’s words were not directly impacted by his racism or sexism.
“It was wonderful to see so many people turn up here today. It’s important to be able to meet other people who are affected by his rhetoric. It’s so important to protest.”
Local activist Vicky Donnelly said she was under no illusions that a Galway march would change US policies, but she found it really heartening to take part in one of almost 700 solidarity events taking place across the globe.
Donnelly said women’s rights activists were particularly concerned by the views of Vice President Mike Pence, whose roots ironically are in the West of Ireland, in relation to reproductive and LGBT rights. She denied claims that Irish protesters were “anti-American”.
“This is a time of increased bigotry towards the LBGT community. It’s not an ‘either or’ when it comes to America or Russia or China. Many of the people here today have protested outside numerous embassies in relation to women’s reproductive rights or the atrocities in Yemen and Syria.
“There have been numerous protests in this country. There are many culprits in this and I don’t see any anti-Americanism here. There are many, many Americans here. There are really deep, long-running connections between our two countries. We are known as the rebels, the fighting Irish, so it makes sense that we stand up for human rights across the globe. Solidarity is never a bad thing.”
Veteran anti-war activist Edward Horgan also expressed concern “There are a lot of people here who are very worried about what Trump might do. Some people don’t see Trump as a potential war monger. I think the reality is he’s highly dangerous. He could do even more damage than Obama has done, because he’s much more unpredictable,” said Horgan.
Ciaran Tierney is a journalist, blogger, and digital storyteller, based in Galway, Ireland. You can find his Facebook page here.
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