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A book about golf for Trump and seeds for Christine Lagarde: The gifts Varadkar gave in 2018

Bodhráns, jerseys and crystal bowls were also handed out.

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar and US President Donald Trump during the annual shamrock presentation ceremony at the White House last March.
Taoiseach Leo Varadkar and US President Donald Trump during the annual shamrock presentation ceremony at the White House last March.
Image: Niall Carson/PA Wire/PA Images

EXCHANGING GIFTS IS customary when a head of state visits Ireland, and when our Taoiseach makes a trip abroad.

Leo Varadkar welcomed a number of leaders to Ireland this year, as well as representing the country overseas on several occasions.

Documents released to TheJournal.ie under a Freedom of Information request show that the most expensive gift given by the Taoiseach was to US President Donald Trump during the St Patrick’s Day visit to the White House – a €350 shamrock bowl.

A crystal bowl is traditionally given by the Taoiseach of the day to the US President every March. Last year, Trump received a bowl worth €300.

This year he was also gifted a limited edition of the book 18 Greatest Irish Golf Courses, worth €19.99. The golf course at Trump International Hotel & Golf Links in Doonbeg, Co Clare, does feature in the book – in case you were wondering.

First Lady Melania was given Bord Bia hampers of Irish foods (no charge) and a book about women’s suffrage, Winning the Vote for Women, worth €19.99. Their 12-year-old son Barron received an Irish football jersey worth €49.

Vice President Mike Pence was gifted a woollen rug (no charge), while his wife Karen received Bord Bia food hampers (no charge) and a silk scarf worth €25. Pence’s mother received a Newbridge Celtic brooch worth €40. Speaker of the House of Representatives Paul Ryan’s three children were each given Irish rugby jerseys (worth €187 in total).

On the same trip to the US, Varadkar visited the Choctaw Nation in Oklahoma. Members of the Native American community supported Ireland during the Great Famine. Choctaw Chief Gary Batton was given a book about the famine (no charge) and a bodhrán worth €150.

Gifts given to other leaders this year include:

  • An Irish football jersey (€56) to Prime Minister of Hungary Viktor Orban in January
  • A Michael Vignoles Angler Tuneable Bodhran with Tape (€195) to Prime Minister Of South Korea Lee Kay-Yeon in May
  • Blooming Marvellous: A Wildflower Hunter’s Year (a book worth €16.99) and seeds (€13) to Christine Lagarde, Managing Director and Chairwoman of the International Monetary Fund, in June
  • A woollen scarf (€17.50) to former US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in June
  • Teelings Irish Whiskey (worth €120) to European leaders in July
  • An Ogham handmade print (€44.95) and hamper (free) to the Duke and Duchess of Sussex (Prince Harry and Meghan Markle) in July
  • A crystal bowl (€49.95) to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in September 

No gifts over the value of €650 were received by the Taoiseach between 1 January and 18 October 2018, meaning no official record of the items had to be kept.

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About the author:

Órla Ryan

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