Back in March, Mary Heanue, development officer of Inishturk Island in Co, Mayo, remarked that her little island with a dwindling population of only 58 would love to see Americans consider moving to Inishturk in the event of a Donald Trump presidency.
"I've heard there are quite a few people in America looking to move to Ireland and other countries if Donald Trump becomes president. I'd like them to know that we'd love to see them consider moving over here,” she told IrishCentral.
"They'd be given a huge welcome and they'd find this is a fantastic place to live and to bring up children. Their kids would probably get the best education anywhere in the country too, because the teacher to pupil ratio is nearly one-on-one.
"Although winters can be hard and it's the kind of life that wouldn't necessarily suit everyone, they'd find it very peaceful here and they'd soon find out there's nowhere as nice in the world on a summer's day than here."
Heanue likely never imagined that those words of hers would go viral, with the initial article shared nearly 300,000 times and the story picked up by websites and newspapers across the US. But they did, and the island was inundated with requests for information.
One filmmaker decided to head on over to Inishurk and find out how the people there really feel about all this.
Directed by David Freid for MEL Films, “Make Inishturk Great Again” is a funny, smart and lovely look at Inishturk and at the larger opinion of Donald Trump in Ireland.
“I personally would love it if hordes of Americans came here,” says one resident. “Maybe they would build a skyscraper on Inishturk.”
Another, a local pub owner, says that she was born and raised on Inishturk and thinks anyone would enjoy it. “It’s a very easy island to live on. No crime, no big chain supermarkets, it’s a lovely, lovely place to live.”
One local cuts to the larger issue of running away from a country’s political problems: “Population decline is our biggest problem. So if people really felt that the country became so unbearable because of a Trump presidency that they had to leave, by all means – you’re welcome here if we can find space for you. But I don’t think running away is the answer for anybody. I’ve moved away from Ireland several times, but I would never leave because of a politician.”
And another has heard about Donald Trump, but she isn’t quite sure who he is. “An actor?” she asks.
The filmmakers also traveled throughout Ireland: to Doonbeg, Co. Clare, where for two years now Trump has been trying to build a wall around his golf resort to protect it from coastal erosion.
“Trump thinks he can control things by building walls,” says a local activist who doesn’t want Trump to destroy the dune ecosystem there. “And that’s why he’s building this wall here, because he thinks he can control the sea.”
In Dublin, they talk to Maria Valdez Cortez, a small business owner who immigrated to Ireland from Mexico and is now an Irish citizen.
“I’m not a rapist, I’m not a criminal,” she says, referencing Trump’s remarks about Mexican immigrants. Inspired by general sentiments about Trump in Ireland she and her friend built a series of Donald Trump piñatas, which were hugely successful.
Back on Inishrturk, one resident cautions that the island wouldn’t be ready for all the thousands of Americans who expressed an interest.
“Inishturk is a welcoming place and we’d love to see a few families moving in. We certainly wouldn’t be prepared for a whole horde of people.”
But perhaps the most crucial bit of advice for Americans thinking about moving to Inishturk?
“Make sure they get the Ferry times right.”