Happy St. Patrick’s Day 2016.
When the time came to write this week’s column - due to being published on the blessed day itself - I decided to ask an old friend in Killarney if he might provide me with his own insights into this year’s American presidential primary season.
Finbarr Slattery is a legend in County Kerry. We became acquainted when Eileen and I were visiting Killarney on our first trip to Ireland in 1992. For many years, Mr. Slattery wrote a brilliant weekly column in The Kingdom newspaper and has been published around the world, including Time Magazine. We kept in touch for quite some time.
Alas, I have just learned that Finbarr, housebound and well into his 90s, has become extremely frail, but his former editor at The Kingdom, which sadly ceased publication in January of 2011, now comes to our rescue.
John O’Mahony is editor and publisher of KillarneyToday.com, a daily online news, sports and current affairs service in Killarney, Co Kerry - Ireland’s best known tourism town. Thousands of miles away from the relentless political pounding we receive around the clock, here’s a March 17perspective provided at a discerning distance from the land of saints and shamrocks, courtesy of the graciously accommodating Mr. O’Mahony.
Ireland’s slow to play the Trump card
The President of the United States of America has always been well within the promotional radar of those charged with the responsibility of boosting Irish tourism and finding reason - any reason - to throw a party.
It started with JFK in June 1963 when he sipped tea at his ancestral home in Dunganstown, County Wexford. That’s a visit that remains one of the most celebrated and poignant occasions in Irish history.
But it didn’t end there. Ballyporeen, County Tipperary did likewise with President Reagan after he came calling to the land of his roots in 1984.
The sleepy County Offaly village of Moneygall has built a busy plaza and museum dedicated to President Obama following his all too brief visit in May 2011 to the little rural hamlet where his great-great-great grandfather, on his mother’s side, once walked the land.
Both Bush presidents came calling, as did President Nixon when he visited his own ancestors’ graves in County Kildare in October 1970. But the charismatic President Clinton spent so much time in Ireland between 1995 and 2000 that he ran the risk of developing freckles and a fondness for creamy porter.
Despite the great history between American presidents and the Irish people, it would appear that there is no great clamor to fast track an invitation to Donald Trump.
Besides, Donald Trump doesn’t need to avail of Irish hospitality as he already has a pretty impressive place to lay his head following his purchase of the stunning Doonbeg Resort and Country Club out of bankruptcy in Feb. 2014.
Despite his barnstorming, electrifying successes in the primary season, few people in Ireland are still taking the Trump campaign very seriously. They should, but refuse to.
That he is likely to secure the Republican nomination is greeted with sheer disbelief and loud barstool guffaws.
The Donald’s take on immigration has greatly irritated the Irish people. His stance on foreign policy is pretty scary. Building walls when the rest of the world is knocking them down defies logic. His bullish nature and brash swagger is not going down well in a country where people like those in power to remain modest and unassuming.
Sanders, Cruz, Rubio and Kasich are largely unknown in Ireland. When it comes to their chances of kicking off their slippers under the White House bed, the view here is that there is more of a possibility of spotting a snake slithering down O’Connell Street on St. Patrick’s Day.
Ireland loves a Clinton. For all his faults. Bill remains a national hero for his commitment to bring peace to Northern Ireland. He treated the Irish people with respect, dignity and compassion. That was appreciated. And it won’t be forgotten,
So Hillary Diane Rodham Clinton is the campaigner Ireland is rooting for. She doesn’t possess her husband’s charisma. She’s prone to more than an occasional foul up, bleep and blunder, and she often comes across as having a tendency to be single-minded, calculating, and divisive.
But she’s a Clinton. And if Hillary is good enough for America, then she is most welcome into the Irish parlor, where there will be a welcome on the mat, a kettle on the boil and the best bone china in the village awaiting.
Just as long as she brings himself with her.
John O’Mahony, Killarney, Ireland