Donald Trump and Small Potatoes.

Spuds and leighlinbridge 023

Donald Trump in his characteristically dismissive way, described his Irish golf club venture as ‘small potatoes.’ While I have no knowledge of golf, I happen to love small potatoes. ‘Hazards’ was the name for them in days gone by. I wonder if Donald is suggesting that greens will be dug up, water hazards drained for cultivation, bunkers filled with compost and crops of spuds planted on the Doonbeg fairways. Chipping would take on a new significance. A mashie-niblick could be used to produce the creamy mash so beloved of the Irish diner. Wedge potatoes, perhaps? ‘Potatoes Augusta’, in (green) jackets. Never underestimate Donald. There is big money in spuds.


A noisy blighter.

This unprepossessing Andean tuber is inextricably linked with Irish history. The survival of eight million Irish came to depend on the potato crop. Potato blight impelled the first great wave of Irish emigration to the United States, a tradition that has continued into modern times. Almost everyone in Ireland has a relative in America. The Irish contributed to their new home and benefited from it. Our stories and songs are shot through with the adventure and heartbreak of emigration. There was no wall. It is sad to hear presidential candidates speaking of the Secret Service raiding homes to round up undocumented Irish and other immigrants with a view to deporting them. “You better believe it.” The language is that of aggression….’Them and Us’. I noticed in one of Michael Moore’s films, that the Secret Service wear jackets with Secret Service written on them. You will know who they are if they knock on your door early in the morning. At what point will french fries turn again to the absurdity of freedom fries?  The Statue of Liberty must blush metaphorically, to hear such un-American ranting.

Garden, Guttery Lane 026

A quiet and unassuming Skerries man and former school companion of ours, Bernie Rice, was instrumental in developing the blight-resistant rooster  potato, named for its red skin, not for any strutting flamboyance or arrogance. Subconsciously, it laid the ghost of the Great Famine and that atavistic fear of blight. I can see Bernie’s family farm from my window. The walls  and gate pillars of The Lane Farm are invariably white-washed. They catch the morning sunrise. Bernie’s achievement did not make him a millionaire. He didn’t rant or threaten from behind his white walls. He was a benefactor, an exemplary public servant, using his talents for the benefit of others.  Besides its other attributes and advantages, the rooster tastes good too.


Anyway, we went here to see how the other half lives. We cleared immigration. ‘No, we were never members of the Nazi party; never charged with or convicted of terrorist crimes; had no intention of committing any acts of terrorism; were not carrying any foodstuffs or snails, etc. etc.’ Fair enough. A strong man armed, keepeth his house. We were free to roam. When I grow up I want to drive at speed up and down Rodeo Drive in a red convertible, with a sun tan, an open-top shirt and a medallion on my chest. I want to mingle with the beautiful people and have doormen tip their top hats to me. I want to browse in the jewellery shops and pick up some bargains. 2007_0708daffs0518

We dined with friends in a steak-house on Beverley Drive/Street/Boulevarde.  Can’t remember. The wine was excellent. The steaks were great. The company was superb. The atmosphere… well the joint was jumpin,’ as we say in Hollywood. The exchange rate was kind to us at the time. I noticed that my baked potato cost $8. 50c, but what the hell! That was three week’s wages when I picked spuds for Bernie Healy a century ago. We strolled back to our hotel in the balmy night air. There was a young Latina mother shining the towering glass doors of a locked office building. Her baby slept in a buggy in the lobby. It was nearly midnight.


I always enjoyed Anthony Quinn’s work. He was the ultimate Greek, Mexican bandido, wild desert tribesman or whatever you needed. I gather that he was half Mexican and half Irish. His inscription reads: ‘Dreams do come true.’ How many millions have followed their dreams to America. What did that young mother dream of as she cleaned those glass doors in the dead of night?

Every twenty years or so, I watch The Magnificent Seven. It never palls. The Mexican farmers work and fight to survive. The bandidos are magnificently evil. It is an idealised fable. The good guys defeat the bad guys to defend freedom. My young grandson was engrossed. “Are they the people Donald Trump hates?” he asked. “Are they the reason he wants to build a wall?”  Out of the mouths of babes and innocents etc.

The aran banner is a huge blond potato. It impresses with its, bulk, but there is a void at its heart. It is unpleasant to the taste. It rots from the inside.

4 thoughts on “Donald Trump and Small Potatoes.

  1. Loved this Hugh, as always. And love potatoes also.

    Actually was on Rodeo Drive last year and stayed in Beverley Hills. Yes you are correct, you are nobody unless you have a Ferrari or Lamborghini. We actually thought of hiring one for the fun of it.

    Had a great night people watching in the Peninsula Hotel. A book to be written there.

    Thank you

    Anne (Busher)
    00353 1 4398283


    • A coincidence there, Anne. It was a great trip. I don’t think I’ll try to break into movies in Hollywood though. I couldn’t afford my regular supplies of spuds, let alone a Ferrari.


  2. Dear Hugh, I always read your writing with great pleasure. I love your style most specially your subliminal sense of humour. Or very frank mockery….I am appalled at Donald Trump and the whole bunch of possible candidates to the American presidency. Whoever it is will affect us all even far away in Uruguay. It is very hard for me to understand how people vote for certain politicians. We have had old terrorists and bandits exercising democratically elected power in this country who are on the way to ruin the country with populism and aspire to the Nobel Peace price at the same time. Mujica and company. Who killed and assaulted in their youth as guerrillas against a working democracy at that time and thus brought on the dictatorship we suffered in the 70s.Going onto nicer subjects I highly recommend the film Brooklyn. About a young Irish woman going to the US. It is very good in casa you ha en’t seen it.School started again this week after summer vacation and I have been very busy but now we go into a workable routine. And next week I am going to California to see my grandson for a week. He is 7 already and my only grandson. Very American in the good ways. No Irish blood in him but still a good kid.Everyone down here well . Roberto and Lauri Canessa in the USA promoting his new book. I HAD TO SURVIVE. Just came out. I enjoyed reading it. It deals with how his crash in the Andes years ago has helped him lead his life as a doctor of babies or childten suffering from heart trouble and their mothers.It is very different from the other books on survival of the 72 days in the Andes peaks.   Hope you and family are very well a d I will keep on reading you .Take good care.  Maria

    Enviado desde Yahoo Mail para Android El jue., mar. 3, AM a 8:15, Hugh Fitzgerald Ryan escribió: | hfryan posted: “Donald Trump in his characteristically dismissive way, described his Irish golf club venture as ‘small potatoes.’ While I have no knowledge of golf, I happen to love small potatoes. ‘Hazards’ was the name for them in days gone by. I wonder if Donald is ” | |


    • I saw some photos of your time in California.I have read Roberto’s new book. Very moving. Different, as you say, from the other survival books in that we could get inside Roberto’s mind. Great testimony from family, patients and parents, and searchers. His book is devoid of vanity and false modesty; A memorable achievement. All good wishes from Skerries.


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