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Home News The village in Ireland is getting ready for the arrival of Donald Trump, a hotelier from west Clare.
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The village in Ireland is getting ready for the arrival of Donald Trump, a hotelier from west Clare.

Photo by Megan Johnston on Unsplash

In the Harry Potter stories, characters avoid using the name of Lord Voldemort, which is taboo, and refer to him as He Who Must Not Be Named.

Another powerful figure with an unsettling name has prompted a corner of Ireland to coin its own euphemism: the “west Clare hotelier”.

The comparison is inexact: not everyone thinks Donald Trump is an evil wizard. But many in and around Doonbeg, a coastal village in County Clare, prefer to sidestep his polarising name and to emphasise his credentials as a respected business owner.

The linguistic veil will be stretched on Wednesday when Trump visits his 400-acre hotel and golf resort, bringing the retinue of a former – and perhaps future – US president.

Trump intends to play golf and inspect his five-star property – as he also did in Scotland earlier this week – before returning to the US. The visit will put renewed scrutiny on the ticklish relationship between Doonbeg and its patron, by far the area’s biggest employer.

It was up to American voters to judge Trump’s politics, not Doonbeg, said Murphy. “I wouldn’t be a fan of his politics. But I could point out plenty of people in this country whose politics I don’t like and they may be very nice people. At the end of the day he’s a businessmen and owns a business in west Clare. Owners come and go.”

Trump bought the property in 2014 and has spent about €40m (£35m), including the purchase price, on expanding and upgrading facilities. At peak season it employs more than 300 people. Most come from Doonbeg, population 262, and nearby communities.

Describing him first and foremost as a business owner has become a tongue-in-cheek way to downplay the politics. “West Clare hotelier loses out in US presidential election,” the Clare Echo said after the 2020 election. Last week it reported that “the west Clare hotelier as he is commonly known” was returning to Doonbeg.

Trump has visited at least six times, most recently in 2019, when as president he was accompanied by heavy security and White House hoopla and met the taoiseach, Leo Varadkar, at Shannon airport.

Locals decouple the resort from Trump’s controversies in the US, where he has been charged with falsifying business records and in a civil case has been accused of rape and defamation. Trump denies any wrongdoing.

“Politics doesn’t come into it around here,” said Tommy Tubridy, of Tubridy’s bar and restaurant. “The resort is bringing a world of people into Doonbeg. The service is fantastic. Everybody who comes to Doonbeg has mighty praise for it.”

Fr Gerry Kenny, a parish priest, said locals valued having quality jobs. Asked if that translated into affection for the employer Fr Kenny replied: “The management of the hotel is held in very high regard. The owner’s political career has been played out in another forum. In terms of the interests of people in west Clare the political thing is not on the agenda. Employment is the prism through which it’s viewed.”

Trump said on Truth Social, the social media platform he owns, that his resorts in Scotland and Ireland were among the greatest in the world.

Last month he criticised the US president Joe Biden – whom he may face in the 2024 White House race – for visiting Ireland during international crises. “The world is exploding around us, you could end up in a third world war and this guy is going to be in Ireland.”

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