Ireland literally rolled out the red carpet for Donal Trump when he touched down in his Boeing 757 in Shannon this morning.
Not only were the new Doonbeg owner and his family (sons Don and Eric and daughter Ivanka) greeted by Clare Mayor Joe Arkins, Clare county manager Tom Coughlan and Shannon Airport Authority chairperson Rose Hynes but Ireland's Finance Minister, Michael Noonan also turned up to welcome.
Add to this scene the presence of a musical trio of crimson clad women which appeared to bemuse The Donald and it was a Shannon arrival as memorable as any US President or even the non-appearance of a drunk Boris Yelstsin
It was more like the visit of a Head of State than a businessman but with Trump promising to double or even triple the reported €15m he's invested in purchasing the Co Clare resort, it would not have been unusual to see the Minister doing cartwheels at the thought of hundreds of new jobs being created.
Given the environmentally sensitive nature of the site where 51 acres were out of bounds to original designer Greg Norman because of the protected status of the grey dunes and the narrow-mouth whorl snail or angustior vertigor, which inhabits them, Trump has taken a softly softly approach.
Having been served with a stop-work order earlier last month after lorry-loads of rock was brought in to repair some of the damage caused to the course by winter's storms, it appears that he will work closely with all parties to rebuild the course under Martin Hawtree.
Clare County Council and the National Parks and Wildlife Service have already agreed a programme of works and Trump said: "We will be very protective of it but at the same time we want to work together with certain environmental people and as you know, we've already got lots of approval."
Our sources in Co Clare inform us that Hawtree has no intention of using the 51 acres of dunes but instead plans to work with what he's got with the following changes on the menu:
- 1st- green to be moved out of dunes to the right.
- 2nd- 17th green to be new 2nd tee box.
- 3rd- New tee box across the road.
- 5th - Green pulled back 100 yards or so. Tee box moved way back.
- 6th- The current 14th green to be new 6th tee box. New fairway and green to be redesigned.
- 17th- The current second in reverse.
With the 51 acres deemed unsuitable, it appears that a land swap deal may be made with neighbouring landowners.
As for the arrival of Trump, it was almost surreal to see the musical trio battle the din of the engines.
At least Trump got out of the plane, which is more than Boris Yeltsin did a 1994 when waiting Taoiseach Albert Reynolds was told that Yeltsin was unwell and would not be leaving the aircraft.
As for Trump, he spoke in his usual glowing terms of his Irish project.
"It's only developments that are going to be iconic that I'm interested in. I don't have enough time left to do the boring things but it's going to be truly iconic and something Ireland will be extremely proud of," he said.