Belfast Telegraph

Mike Pence says US ‘cherishes’ Irish immigration as he visits Doonbeg

The vice president’s great grandmother hailed from the village in Clare.

Vice President Mike Pence (centre), arrives in Doonbeg (Jacob King/PA)
Vice President Mike Pence (centre), arrives in Doonbeg (Jacob King/PA)

By Aoife Moore, PA

Vice President Mike Pence said the US “cherishes” Irish immigration while visiting his great-grandmother’s village in Ireland.

On Tuesday evening, the vice president, along with his wife Karen, sister Ann and mother Nancy travelled to Morrissey’s seafood bar and restaurant in Doonbeg for dinner, to meet and dine with distant relatives from the Co Clare village.

The restaurant’s owner is a relative of Mr Pence, and it is situated just minutes from the Trump Doonbeg Golf Resort where the second family are staying during their three-day trip to Ireland.

Upon his arrival, Mr Pence unexpectedly walked from the restaurant towards a crowd of media and onlookers and began greeting, hugging and shaking hands with the crowd who had braved the rain to see him.

He introduced locals to his elderly mother Nancy, and told them how his great-grandmother had lived in a house just feet from the restaurant, and how he had once worked in Morrissey’s during a trip to Ireland in 1981.

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Mike Pence arrives in Doonbeg to visit Morrissey’s (Jacob King/PA)

Nancy remarked that she was “meeting everybody this week” as she shook hands with local women.

“I’m back in Doonbeg as a proud Irish American, my great-grandmother grew up in that house,” Mr Pence said pointing toward the small terraced house that faces Doonbeg Castle.

“It’s great to be back amongst so many friends, the family we met with last night are very inspiring to me and we have a great sense of gratitude to those who have gone before and it’s wonderful to be back.

“To be here with my mother and my wife, the time we’ve spent here is very special.”

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Vice President Mike Pence talks to media and local residents (Jacob King/PA)

When asked about the importance of Ireland-US immigration, Mr Pence said: “My family has benefited from it, America has been greatly enriched by immigration from Ireland and we cherish the contribution of Irish Americans.”

Mr Pence repeated the anecdote about his great-grandmother’s house a number of times, and told the crowd about the time he had previously spent in the small village of around 300 people.

“I came over for about a month and a half, it was the year my grandfather passed away, we were supposed to come over together, but he passed so I came with my great aunt Ann, and we travelled all over but we stayed here in Doonbeg for several weeks and they made me work for my keep in the pub.”

When asked if he planned to pull a pint behind the bar, the vice president laughed.

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Vice President Mike Pence, his mother Nancy Pence Fritsch (centre), and his sister Anne Pence Poynter (Jacob King/PA)

“I might not remember how, but I pulled more than a few when I was in there, I worked for Pat Morrissey (former owner of Morrissey’s) back in the day,” Mr Pence said.

He added that he was interested in meeting the local parish priest Father Joe Haugh, who had previously made headlines when he said he had “saved a place in Heaven for the Trump family”.

PA

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