United States of America Vice President Mike Pence recalled his fond memories of cutting turf and pulling pints in Doonbeg when he returned for a private meal on Tuesday night.
A small crowd of well wishers were delighted when vice-president Pence came over to the security barrier and spoke about his younger days in the Long Village for a few minutes.
The Republican politician whizzed into the Long Village in a cavalcade of jeeps and a garda escort at 7.53pm.
After embarking from his car, he and his close family members were welcomed by the owner of Morrisey’s restaurant, Hugh McNally, who gave him a warm embrace.
Much to the delight of small group of waiting onlookers, the vice-president who was accompanied by Second Lady, Karen Pence, his mother, Mrs Nancy Pence-Fritsch and sister, Anne Poynter walked over to the security barrier that was placed by gardai on the Main Street.
Vice-President Pence introduced his wife, Karen and his mother to the small crowd of well wishers.
Pointing over to the Wild Atlantic Break, which was previously Downes’ house, he told people his great grandmother came from this old dwelling.
“It is great to be back in Doonbeg. It is very moving. I came here first when I was 22 years old. I worked in Pat Morrissey’s for two weeks. To come back here and get this kind of warm reception and be here with my mother and my wonderful wife and sister is great.
“My great grandmother used to say she had a castle outside her bedroom window. I will never forget the Moloneys,” he said.
Answering questions from reporters, he said it was very special to be in Ireland for the first time with his mother and his wife.
Doonbeg publican, Tommy Comerford reminded the vice president he had a drink in Comerford’s pub in 2013 when Tommy introduced him to members of the Moloney family.
Acknowledging the time he spent in the pub, vice president Pence replied “that’s right, we had a great visit.
The vice president also confirmed he cut turf on a nearby farm in the locality when he was young.
He told another well wisher he met members of the Greenes and the Moloneys on Monday night.
Asked if he was going to pull a pint in Morrissey’s bar tonight and if he had cut turf previously, the vice-president joked “I don’t know if I remember how”.
However, he added “I pulled more than a few when I was a young man for Pat Morrissey back in the day. We did cut some turf. I was here for about a month and a year. It was the year my grandfather passed away. We were supposed to come here together but he passed away so I came here with my great aunt, Ann, we traveled all over but we stayed here in Doonbeg for several weeks.
“They made me work for my keep.It was in 1981. I worked in the pub part of the day and the bog,” he recalled.
Asked about Irish immigration to the United States of America, the vice president acknowledged that his family has benefited from it and added the United States of America has been greatly enriched by the influx of people from Ireland.
“We cherish the contribution that Irish people have made,” he said.
The vice president admitted he hadn’t seen Doonbeg parish priest Fr Joe Haugh but pledged to keep an “eye out for him”.
He obliged photographers by waving to the well wishes and thanked everyone for giving him a “wonderful welcome home”.
He then walked into Morrissey’s restaurant where he enjoyed a private meal, which was invitation only for a select group of relatives and friends.