‘People will love what we do’

The sense of excitement at Shannon Airport early yesterday was palpable long before Donald Trump’s Boeing 757 descended through the dark rain clouds cloaking Clare.

‘People will love what we do’

And when the American billionaire set foot on Irish soil for the first time to be greeted by a harpist and a group singing gentle Irish airs, the launch of one of the biggest golf developments in this country was officially under way.

Donald Trump (67) not only forked out what he believes to be a trifling sum of €15m to buy the Doonbeg complex (now known as the Trump International Golf Links Ireland) on the edge of the Atlantic but is now intent on spending much more on redeveloping it into a world-acclaimed piece of golfing real estate.

Thirteen years ago, Greg Norman designed a fine course at Doonbeg but was constrained in his efforts by environmental issues, many surrounding the existence of a microscopic snail known as the Vertigo angustior. Australia’s Great White Shark was prevented from using 51 acres of magnificent dune land so crucial for the creation of a high-class links.

However, Trump is confident this will no longer present a major challenge to his reconstruction plans and already Martin Hawtree, the British architect responsible for the many successful alterations to the nearby Lahinch links and also at Royal Dublin, has been casting his expert eye over Doonbeg’s 500-plus acres.

“The course was very good but they never got to use the good land,” said Trump. “Hopefully we will be able to use the land the way it should be used and do something that will be as good as anything anywhere in the world.

“We’ve already started and got a lot of the work done. We never stop and over the years we’ll do more and more.

“The snail issue is one of which we will be very protective. We want to work with the environmental people and they have been terrific. We have been talking to the authorities and doing certain things and we think we will be able to maximise this great land which will ultimately be great for tourism.

“The course I’ve set up in Scotland is said by some to be the greatest ever built. Aberdeen is booming because of what I’ve done. People are coming in their thousands to play the course and then using the restaurants and the hotels. And I think we’re going to do at least the same thing here.

Trump also stated that he will be digging deep into his pockets in the months ahead.

“I will be doubling, tripling the €15m purchase price to make it great. And then it could be that other things happen because of it and also other investments in Ireland will be made because a lot of times when I go to a community, I make other investments because I’m there. I might see something that I like.

“But I have to say that our primary focus is on what is now called Trump International Golf Links and Trump International Hotel and that’s with a big Ireland at the other end because that’s the key.

“I love Ireland. It’s a special place, special people, tremendous levels of energy and brain level, and I like those two qualities very much.

“My sons Don and Eric and [daughter] Ivanka are here with me and very involved in this project and our projects all over the world. It’s only a job that’s going to be iconic that we have an interest in.

“I will be here a lot. I recently bought Turnberry in Scotland, the home of the [British] Open Championship, an incredible piece of land and a hotel on which we will spend a lot of money. Turnberry will be part of what we call the Trump triangle, the other of course being Aberdeen.

“We are already in contract for an incredible health project that will be able to connect the three dots with guests and we think that’s going to bring an incredible amount of business.

“We have a 93% approval rating in Scotland and Aberdeen which is impressive and maybe we can top that here. We will try. The people are going to love what we are doing.”

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