Donald Trump heads home as Doonbeg pupils 'gobsmacked' after meeting US president

Donald Trump heads home as Doonbeg pupils 'gobsmacked' after meeting US president
pupils and teachers from Clohanes National School meeting US President Donald Trump at his golf resort in Doonbeg, Co Clare. Picture: PA Wire

Update - 1.59pm: A quick-thinking school principal in Doonbeg managed to engineer a meeting for the 27 pupils at her small two-teacher school with US President Donald Trump this morning.

Mr Trump and First Lady Melania Trump flew out of Shannon Airport in Air Force One this afternoon having spent two nights at his nearby five-star hotel in Doonbeg, Co Clare.

Aideen O’Mahony of Clohanes National School, along with three of her staff, brought her pupils to an area close to the 9th hole at Doonbeg golf course.

“We've had such an amazing, exciting morning, we're the nearest school to the golf course, we're actually in the restricted area so all the children had to get passes to come to school this week,” she told RTE radio’s News at One.

“Up to today we had an absolutely fabulous week. An Garda Siochána have been so good to us, they brought in the dog unit, they brought in the riot squad, they brought in the mounted gardaí, the horses, all the children got to go on the horses, we had the armed forces, we had the detectives on duty down there, they all came in and spoke to the children, did displays.

“That was Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, so we were wondering what's going to happen on Friday?

“We kind of got wind that the President would be playing all 18 holes and the 9th hole is just by my parents' land, I'm local. We decided to take the children to the hillside near the 9th green and all the children were there, we had our flags and they were waiting patiently as he came up along the 9th fairway and he waved to the children.

“We were waiting on the hillside and then one of the secret service and the gardaí came over to us, they said the President would like to meet the teachers, there were four members of staff there so the four of us went up onto the tee box and he shook hands with us and he spoke with us.

“We said can we get the children up here, he said 'no, I'll go down to them', so he walked to where they were all standing.

"He met them, he shook hands with all of them, he stood for photographs and we sang a verse of a song for him and he spoke to the children and he was just so pleasant with them."

“They are just absolutely gobsmacked, we just can't believe it. They've had an absolutely amazing morning.”

Ms O’Mahony said that the song they sang for Mr Trump was My Lovely Rose of Clare.

“He asked us were they good at school, were they good to do their work, he asked the children if they liked school, told them to be good in school and to do their work and so on. T’was lovely.

“It was totally unexpected, nothing organised, we just decided to take it on ourselves to come to the hill and maybe see him in the distance and wave the flags.

“Some of our parents (of pupils) actually work at the golf course, they were able to let me know that he would be playing the 18 holes. Unless he came to the 9th we wouldn't be able to see him. When we heard he would be coming to the 9th we started transporting the children. It's just been great.”

Earlier: Doonbeg pupils eagerly await possible Trump visit to school

Donald Trump heads home as Doonbeg pupils 'gobsmacked' after meeting US president

The principal of the school in Doonbeg says pupil numbers have increased due to the success of Donald Trump’s nearby golf resort.

Doonbeg National School, in the heart of the small Co Clare town, has just 52 pupils and three teachers, and the town itself has a population of around 300.

School head Neil Crowley had pupils in full uniform today, which is usually a non-uniform day, in case any VIP visitors and the inevitable media scrum stopped by for a picture.

Doonbeg prepares for the arrival of Donald Trump (Niall Carson/PA)
Doonbeg prepares for the arrival of Donald Trump (Niall Carson/PA)

“We’ve had no confirmation that anyone would visit but, you know, after this week, anything could happen,” he said. “We’re hopeful that we would have a visit.”

TV cameras and a number of journalists milled around outside the school this morning, hopeful that First Lady Melania Trump might pay a visit.

Speaking during break time, Mr Crowley told media at the gates of the school that the children have taken the sudden presence of hordes of media in their stride.

The kids are delighted, the last week they're all talking about it and really enjoying the moment

“We’re used to it in the last week, the huge media presence, it’s fantastic really,” he said.

“The kids are delighted, the last week they’re all talking about it and really enjoying the moment, and it’s a great experience for kids in a rural area.”

Mr Crowley, who has been in the job seven years, says he has seen first-hand the benefit that the Trump International Golf Links & Hotel has had on the area since it opened in 2002.

Golf buggies on the Doonbeg links (Niall Carson/PA)
Golf buggies on the Doonbeg links (Niall Carson/PA)

“In the last number of years we have benefited really from families coming to the community, because of the role the hotel plays in employment and so on,” Mr Crowley said.

“A lot of people who were previously leaving the locality to go and emigrate have come back and gained employment in the hotel, and the benefit of that is we have increased enrolment, and that gave us the opportunity to be able to take on another teacher, which is a huge benefit to the kids.”

- Press Association

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