Kerry’s seaside resort Ballybunion made worldwide headlines in 1998 following a visit by then-US President Bill Clinton, a trip inspired by a book on Irish golf courses offered by Tánaiste Dick Spring.
he then traveled to Massachusetts to meet President Clinton in Martha’s Vineyard, where he was on a brief vacation in September 1994.
The men first met as part of the Northern Ireland peace process.
While the reason for the meeting was US economic support for Northern Ireland’s economy, the conversation quickly turned to golf – one of President Clinton’s passions.
Mr Clinton joked that if he broke 80 (on an Irish golf course) he would accept Tánaiste’s offer of $ 300 million in US economic support to Northern Ireland.
Foreign Ministry official Seán Ó hUigínn was present and proposed that President Clinton organize a round of golf at an Irish course on his next visit.
Mr Spring – an avid golfer and proud Kerryman – immediately volunteered to send the former Governor of Arkansas an illustrated book on Ireland’s greatest golf courses ahead of a planned 1995 visit to Ireland.
Ballybunion, a famous bonding course, was included in the later mailed book.
“Tom Watson plays regularly in Ireland at Ballybunion,” said Spring.
President Clinton agreed that he had heard of Ballybunion and admitted that it was a famous course, one of its holes being on the list of the greatest rounds in the world.
He got to play at the Ballybunion course four years later – and helped make the course a major draw for American golfers on vacation in Ireland. A statue of Mr. Clinton was later erected at Ballybunion.
Famously, President Clinton declined to comment on the scores delivered after the round of golf he enjoyed on the Kerry Links course with Mr. Spring.
The visit turned out to be so publicized that years later it inspired a play called A statue for Bill Clinton by writer Tom McEnery.
Although initially seen as someone whose administration would adopt a national strategy, President Clinton has proven to be a key supporter of the Northern Ireland peace process and a US president who has been very involved in the issues. foreign policy.
He became one of the US Presidents most involved in Irish affairs – visiting the country several times even after leaving the White House in 2000 at the end of his second term.