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*Shannon Group Chairman, Rose Hynes and Minister of State Patrick O’Donovan TD (right) with US President Donald Trump and US First Lady Melania Trump before boarding Air Force One in Shannon Airport after their visit to Ireland. Photo: Oisin McHugh True Media

Donald Trump’s three day hybrid visit to Co Clare has ended with the forty fifth President of the US departing Shannon Airport alongside his wife Melania and several members of staff.

In what was his first Presidential visit to Ireland, Donald and the First Lady spent two nights at Trump International Golf Links and Hotel Ireland. The President held a bi-lateral meeting with Taoiseach Leo Varadkar, attended a dinner hosted by his Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney, took photographs and spoke with 27 pupils and two teachers from Clohanes NS as well as taking part in two rounds of golf.

Doonbeg locals celebrated his arrival while protesters spent the course of his visit at Shannon with a rally also held in Dublin.

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Chairman of Shannon Group, Rose Hynes was one of the final people to speak with Mr and Mrs Trump before they boarded Air Force One to return to the US. In a statement to The Clare Echo, Hynes said the visit brought global attention to the West of Ireland and “further illustrates the deep ties between the West of Ireland and the United States.

“Shannon is the gateway airport to the Wild Atlantic Way and is critical for tourism and indeed, business in this region, not least in the context of the huge US multi-national footprint here. The visit has been a huge sign-post for Shannon, something that will grow awareness of the airport as the premier access to this wonderful part of Ireland. The visit was another significant page in Irish-US relations facilitated by Shannon.  The airport has hosted so many politicians, stars of stage and screen over the years from the US”.

Mary Considine, Acting CEO, Shannon Group, paid tribute to the staff across the company for their input in the run-up to and across the three-day visit. “This was a massive logistical operation for our staff.  A visit of a US President across three days is a mammoth undertaking and the fact that this was handled so seamlessly by our staff and that the airport remained operational at all times, speaks volumes about their dedication. We are used to hosting famous people here, including every US President since John F. Kennedy, but to do it so well five times in three days was a massive achievement for all involved.”

Ms Considine said that the visit had put a spotlight on Shannon that has the potential to attract more tourists and investment into the region: “President Trump’s visit saw over 150 journalists, many of them from the US, arrive in Shannon.  Much of the interest, of course, was focussed on the actual visit itself, which drew the eyes of the world to Shannon Airport. Volumes have also been written and broadcast across the US and the world about the airport, its history in aviation, Shannon Group and its impact on the region. On top of that, there has been a huge focus on Doonbeg, which is now probably the best-known Irish village in the world, a level of attention that will, no doubt, drive more visitors it’s way and heighten awareness of the magnificent Wild Atlantic Way. This has been a great opportunity for us and for the region and one we intend to capitalise on.”

As the visit draws to a close, it also brings an end to the biggest security operation in Clare since George W. Bush was in Dromoland Castle in 2004 and what was the biggest West Clare has ever seen. Over 1,400 uniformed Gardaí were based in the county for the course of the visit, they patrolled streets, manned road junctions and also found time to call into primary schools in Shannon and Doonbeg.

A spokesperson for Doonbeg Community Development paid tribute to members of An Garda Síochána for their assistance in the Long Village. “The President has left for Shannon and all our new friends in An Garda Síochána will no doubt shortly be heading home as well. They have been absolutely brilliant over the past number of days, sharing the craic with the locals and visiting the schools with their Mounted Support unit, Dog teams and even a bit of riot control”.

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