Dublin: What are the odds of Donald J. Trump being the next president of the United States? I went to the Dardanelles to find out.
The Dardanelles in this case were located in Dublin’s Wexford Street. During the War of Independence this stretch of street was so dubbed because the IRA caused havoc by blowing up British convoys. The terms “Trump” and “blowing up” drove me to Paddy Power’s betting parlour. It reminded me of an old New York OTB joint, only cleaner and with a higher class of horse-playing clientele.
“Are you taking bets on the American election?” I asked the young pari-mutuel clerk. He stared at me blankly and left his post in search of a supervisor.
A woman returned and I asked the question again. She fiddled with the computer and gave me a definitive “yes” followed by quoting me the odds. I have my degenerative proclivities, but betting is not one of them. I smiled gently. “I would like to place a one Euro bet on Mr. Trump.” She handed me a slip and I filled it out. She good naturedly took my lonely Euro and handed me my betting slip.
“Do you get a lot of action on the election?” I asked her.
“No,” she replied with a bemused smile. Before I could turn away she told me that Paddy Power had a billboard over on Baggot Street on the other side of St. Stephen’s Green. Camera in hand, I went in search of the The Donald and his not-so-golden-locks. I marched a good six blocks into Baggot Street without success. I retraced my steps and decided that my foot journalism should be rewarded at O’Donoghue’s pub on Merrion Row, among the ghosts of the Dubliners and the Clancy Brothers.
I asked the young barman if he knew of Paddy Power’s Trump billboard. He did, but it was gone. But being the resourceful Dublin barman he was he had a picture of it on his mobile phone! He dutifully emailed it to me: ORANGE IS THE NEW BLACK, it said. It had a picture of Trump and President Obama on it with 3-to-1 odds against Trump. Hillary was not to be found. “He’s not going to win?” he asked with genuine concern. Not being the all-knowing Wizard of Oz, I shrugged my shoulders.
My quest for electoral truth continued as I roamed the Dublin streets. At the sacred Stag’s Head, I asked the super daytime barwoman, Lisa, if she ever thought about the American election. She looked at me with a blank stare and simply said, “No.”
Then she asked: “Who’s yer man with the mad hair?”
“I don’t like him.”
Thank you, Lisa.
Let’s face it, Dublin is a Democratic town. They loved Kennedy for being Irish. They loved Clinton for the Good Friday Agreement. They loved Obama because he was Obama and had relatives from a town that only a politician would claim - Moneygall, County Offaly. So the continued reactions to Trump did not come as a surprise. It is almost impossible to find a family in Dublin without someone who has immigrated to the United States - either legally or illegally - and, obviously, Trump’s strong anti-immigrant rhetoric does not sit well with the Irish.
I caught up with Finbar Boyle at the Stag’s Head. I don’t think there’s anyone in Dublin who knows more about music than Finbar. And he’s as colorful as his name. If he didn’t exist, Seán O’Casey would have to invent him.
“I’m a Sanders man,” said Finbar definitely. I told him Bernie Sanders was firmly on the Hillary train. Finbar nodded. What about Trump?
“Trump’s an ass,” he said before adding, “The anti-Christ!”
I asked Finbar if he wasn’t being a little bit overboard in his description of the hirsute one?
“He enrages me. He’s a buffoon and troublemaker.” Finbar wasn’t finished. “You know who he reminds me of?” I shook my head. “Paisley.”
I was getting the feeling that Finbar was about to out-do Hillary and her “Basket of Deplorables” line.
“[Trump and Paisley] both have grass root support. The Orangemen are very much like southern Baptists. Like Paisley, Trump is a demagogue who fans the fires with fear and ignorance. He exploits poverty by hamming it up and being a clown. He’s both wise and buffoonish at the same time. He’s like a slumbering Cyclops!”
Slumbering Cyclops! Mother of God!
My last Dubliner to query was Marcus Houlihan, proprietor of The Long Hall on South Great Georges Street, one of Dublin’s renowned Victorian pubs. “Trump’s comedic,” said Houlihan. “You couldn’t script him.” Houlihan thought that Trump was more interested in building his brand than being POTUS. In the end, Marcus concluded that Trump was an “embarrassment for the U.S.”
Buffoon. Ass. Anti-Christ. Embarrassment. Let them say what they want about the man with the “mad hair.” I have a euro on Trump’s nose and it’s going off at 11 to 5.
* Dermot McEvoy is the author of the The 13th Apostle: A Novel of a Dublin Family, Michael Collins, and the Irish Uprising and Irish Miscellany (Skyhorse Publishing). He may be reached at [email protected]. Follow him at www.dermotmcevoy.com. Follow The 13th Apostle on Facebook here.