We need your help now

Support from readers like you keeps The Journal open.

You are visiting us because we have something you value. Independent, unbiased news that tells the truth. Advertising revenue goes some way to support our mission, but this year it has not been enough.

If you've seen value in our reporting, please contribute what you can, so we can continue to produce accurate and meaningful journalism. For everyone who needs it.

hair force one

The infamous snail, those freezing musicians ... that hair: On Trump Patrol in Co Clare

The most cringe inducing Irish-American moment since Jedward met Barack? Whatever you made of it, here’s what went on in the lead-up to The Donald’s bizarre red carpet welcome…

IRISH POLITICIANS WAITING on the runway at Shannon have been burned before — remember the Boris Yeltsin Incident, when the ‘sleepy’ Russian President left poor Albert Reynolds and his military guard of honour kicking their heels back in ’94?

There was never a chance of Michael Noonan suffering a similar embarrassment, however. Donald Trump may still have been on New York time as his plane descended towards the County Clare airport, but there was a bank of cameras and a podium of microphones waiting inside; the tycoon’s never missed the chance to squeeze as much mileage as possible from the even slightest media opportunity.

Brash, controversial, and internationally known as the poster-boy for a particular brand of Business that’s inspired everyone from Del Boy Trotter to, well, people who want to be on The Apprentice — the billionaire’s reputation for self-publicity preceded him.
A strong turn-out from the Irish media was all-but-guaranteed as he jetted in to talk up his plans for the west coast golf resort he recently snapped up for a knock-down price.

AP / Press Association Images AP / Press Association Images / Press Association Images

Operation Golden Eagle

Inside the airport’s main doors, meanwhile, it was being made clear to arriving journalists that the whole affair would be handled with military precision.

This was a chance to show Shannon off to the world, grab some face time with an international business celebrity and possibly attract more of his kind (and their wallets) to the region.

As names were ticked off and laminate passes dealt out, around two dozen reporters, cameramen and photographers began making their way to the appointed press conference area at Gate 6.

All made it through — though some with fewer possessions than they’d set out with…

“I didn’t think I’d actually be going through security,” was an excuse heard more than once — as reporters’ backpacks were stripped of their cans of Club Orange, toothpaste tubes, aerosols, bags of cocaine, Kalashnikovs, knuckle-dusters and slash-hooks.

Dawn Chorus

Once out on the tarmac, it quickly became apparent that there’d be quite a bit more ‘hoopla’ on the schedule than anyone had anticipated.

The first clue was the appearance of the band — who seemed to materialise from thin air shortly after 7.30 (perhaps a Celtic mist descended?).

The three girls struck up a tune as everyone else was fiddling with tripods and plane-tracker apps, and soon became the centre of attention for the mostly-male media huddle. ”Have yis no cardigans, girls?”

Youtube / Ballywire Media Youtube / Ballywire Media / Ballywire Media

An older man, even more incongruously dressed in black-tie and tails, turned out to be their proud manager.

“They’re the entire reason he’s coming over, it’s nothing to do with Doonbeg,” he began insisting to reporters, entirely truthfully.

The Unusual Suspects

Activity stepped up a gear as landing time approached. This was to be red carpet occasion, it turned out — and, of course, the steps to the plane would have to be wiped and dusted before the tycoon and his family could alight.

After a text-book touchdown for Trump’s pinstriped palace, Noonan, who had been waiting inside, took up his place along the carpet — completing the peculiarly-comprised reception party, which by now also included a small band of local dignitaries.

Once a quick immigration check had been dealt with (‘long-form birth certificates please!’) proceedings could get under way. Soon the businessman’s familiar profile began bounding down to his Irish welcomers — that thick mane of perfectly natural grey-blonde locks catching the early-morning sunlight with every step. 

Sean Curtin Sean Curtin

What happened next — at least, if the comments section of this website is anything to go by — is possibly the most cringe-inducing thing to happen to the country since we let Jedward interact with Barack Obama.

“Our world humiliation is almost complete,” as one person put it.

“Excruciating,” wrote another.


It could have been worse.

There could have been dancers.



Read: Trump: I’m bringing hundreds of jobs — and yes, I’ll be a friend of the snail

Read: Donald Trump on Obama’s win: “A total sham and a travesty”

Readers like you are keeping these stories free for everyone...
A mix of advertising and supporting contributions helps keep paywalls away from valuable information like this article. Over 5,000 readers like you have already stepped up and support us with a monthly payment or a once-off donation.

Your Voice
Readers Comments
    Submit a report
    Please help us understand how this comment violates our community guidelines.
    Thank you for the feedback
    Your feedback has been sent to our team for review.