Scottish isle a world away from fireworks of native son Trump

Before you go, we thought you'd like these...
Before you go close icon
23 PHOTOS
Trump's ancestral Scottish roots, Isle of Lewis
See Gallery
Scottish isle a world away from fireworks of native son Trump
An ewe and its lambs rest on the Isle of Lewis and Harris, an island off the northwestern tip of Scotland in the Outer Hebrides, Britain April 27, 2016. Picture taken April 27, 2016. REUTERS/Russell Cheyne TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
The house where Donald Trump's mother grew up is seen in Tong on the Isle of Lewis and Harris, an island off the northwestern tip of Scotland in the Outer Hebrides, BritainApril 27, 2016. Picture taken April 27, 2016. REUTERS/Russell Cheyne
Employees work at the Harris Tweed factory on the Isle of Lewis and Harris, an island off the northwestern tip of Scotland in the Outer Hebrides, Britain April 28, 2016. Picture taken April 28, 2016. REUTERS/Russell Cheyne
A man cuts peat on the Isle of Lewis and Harris, an island off the northwestern tip of Scotland in the Outer Hebrides, Britain April 27, 2016. Picture taken April 27, 2016. REUTERS/Russell Cheyne
The house where Donald Trump's mother grew up in is seen in Tong on the Isle of Lewis and Harris, an island off the northwestern tip of Scotland in the Outer Hebrides, BritainApril 27, 2016. Picture taken April 27, 2016. REUTERS/Russell Cheyne TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
A boat sits on the shore on the Isle of Lewis and Harris, an island off the northwestern tip of Scotland in the Outer Hebrides, Britain April 28, 2016. Picture taken April 28, 2016. REUTERS/Russell Cheyne
TO MATCH USA-ELECTION/TRUMP-SCOTLANDA man smokes a cigarette in the doorway of a pub in Stornaway on the Isle of Lewis and Harris, an island off the northwestern tip of Scotland in the Outer Hebrides, BritainApril 28, 2016. REUTERS/Russell Cheyne
Wool hangs on a wall in the Harris Tweed factory on the Isle of Lewis and Harris, an island off the northwestern tip of Scotland in the Outer Hebrides, Britain April 28, 2016. Picture taken April 28, 2016. REUTERS/Russell Cheyne
Whisky barrels are stored in the Harris Distillery in Tarbert on the Isle of Lewis and Harris, an island off the northwestern tip of Scotland in the Outer Hebrides, Britain April 27, 2016. Picture taken April 27, 2016. REUTERS/Russell Cheyne
Highland cattle stand in a field on the Isle of Lewis and Harris, an island off the northwestern tip of Scotland in the Outer Hebrides, Britain April 28, 2016. Picture taken April 28, 2016. REUTERS/Russell Cheyne
The CalMac ferry berths at Tarbert on the Isle of Lewis and Harris, an island off the northwestern tip of Scotland in the Outer Hebrides, Britain April 27, 2016. Picture taken April 27, 2016. REUTERS/Russell Cheyne
The copper still is seen in the Harris Distillery in Tarbert on the Isle of Lewis and Harris, an island off the northwestern tip of Scotland in the Outer Hebrides, Britain April 27, 2016. Picture taken April 27, 2016. REUTERS/Russell Cheyne
Waves roll on to Tolsta beach on the Isle of Lewis and Harris, an island off the northwestern tip of Scotland in the Outer Hebrides, Britain April 28, 2016. Picture taken April 28, 2016. REUTERS/Russell Cheyne
An abandoned dwellng is seen on the Isle of Lewis and Harris, an island off the northwestern tip of Scotland in the Outer Hebrides, Britain April 28, 2016. Picture taken April 28, 2016. REUTERS/Russell Cheyne
A sheep grazes on the Isle of Lewis and Harris, an island off the northwestern tip of Scotland in the Outer Hebrides, Britain April 27, 2016. Picture taken April 27, 2016. REUTERS/Russell Cheyne
An employee works on a loom at the Harris Tweed factory on the Isle of Lewis and Harris, an island off the northwestern tip of Scotland in the Outer Hebrides, Britain April 28, 2016. Picture taken April 28, 2016. REUTERS/Russell Cheyne
Fleece await preperation for production at the Harris Tweed factory on the Isle of Lewis and Harris, an island off the northwestern tip of Scotland in the Outer Hebrides, Britain April 28, 2016. Picture taken April 28, 2016. REUTERS/Russell Cheyne
The Callanish Stones cast a shadow from the rising sun on the Isle of Lewis and Harris, an island off the northwestern tip of Scotland in the Outer Hebrides, BritainApril 28, 2016. Picture taken April 28, 2016. REUTERS/Russell Cheyne
Wool is gathered on bobbins in the Harris Tweed factory on the Isle of Lewis and Harris, an island off the northwestern tip of Scotland in the Outer Hebrides, Britain April 28, 2016. Picture taken April 28, 2016. REUTERS/Russell Cheyne
A fish farm is reflected on a loch on the Isle of Lewis and Harris, an island off the northwestern tip of Scotland in the Outer Hebrides, Britain April 28, 2016. Picture taken April 28, 2016. REUTERS/Russell Cheyne
An employee works at the Harris Tweed factory on the Isle of Lewis and Harris, an island off the northwestern tip of Scotland in the Outer Hebrides, Britain April 28, 2016. Picture taken April 28, 2016. REUTERS/Russell Cheyne
An employee works at the Harris Tweed factory on the Isle of Lewis and Harris, an island off the northwestern tip of Scotland in the Outer Hebrides, Britain April 28, 2016. Picture taken April 28, 2016. REUTERS/Russell Cheyne
of
SEE ALL
BACK TO SLIDE
SHOW CAPTION +
HIDE CAPTION

ISLE OF LEWIS, Scotland, May 5 (Reuters) - Donald Trump has played up his family roots from Lewis, an island off the northwestern tip of Scotland, but his success in the U.S. Republican presidential battle has not drawn the kind of rapture the billionaire might like from his home crowd.

Trump's mother, Mary Anne MacLeod, emigrated to the United States from the Lewis village of Tong in the early 1930s, and a visit from her property mogul son would certainly interest the friendly inhabitants of this weather-beaten isle.

But the kind of fiery oratory that has catapulted him to unexpected victories in the U.S. primaries might be taken with a pinch of salt, according to Tim Durbin, manager of the post office in the capital Stornoway.

"People here like proof and anything less than that is suspect," said Durbin, a 43-year-old American originally from Kentucky who has lived here for a decade. "There would certainly be lots of talk about him after he left, but the talk would be subdued and the laughter would be gentle."

The islanders' wariness is apparent when the New Yorker's name is mentioned; many smile politely and refuse to talk about him at all, making it difficult to gauge sentiment among the 20,000-strong population.

But even such silence is significant in a place of strong community ties, according to critically-acclaimed Lewis novelist Kevin MacNeil. "If people from Lewis were genuinely supportive of Trump they would be more vocal in their views," he said. "The lack of support for a grandson of the island speaks volumes."

An exception is a Facebook page called "Isle of Lewis supports Trump for President" which has 84 "likes."

The businessman has become the presumptive Republican nominee with a headline-grabbing campaign in which he has traded insults with rivals. A suggestion Muslims should be banned from entering the United States drew criticism from Europe and led to the withdrawal of Scottish business and academic accolades.

Trump argued last month, in a column in Aberdeen's Press and Journal newspaper, that he had won over the skeptical people of Scotland through tenaciousness after he built his golf course despite environmental hurdles, local opposition and lawsuits.

"Scotland has already been won - and so will the United States," he wrote.

Trump called his Scottish business project a "labor of love" and his Trump International Golf Links website has a section dedicated to his Scots' family genealogy.

Take a look at Trump's Scotland golf course:

15 PHOTOS
Donald Trump Golf Course in Scotland
See Gallery
Scottish isle a world away from fireworks of native son Trump
TURNBURRY, SCOTLAND - JUNE 08: Donald Trump visits Turnberry Golf Club, after its $10 Million refurbishment on June 8, 2015 in Turnberry, Scotland. (Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images)
EDINBURGH, SCOTLAND - APRIL 25: Anti-wind farm protestors demonstrate outside the Scottish Parliament as American tycoon Donald Trump pays a visit on April 25, 20012 in Edinburgh, Scotland. Trump spoke of his concerns over a proposed wind farm, mooted to built near his new GBP 1 billion golf resort, telling the Scottish Parliament that they will destroy tourism in the country.. (Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)
ABERDEEN, SCOTLAND - APRIL 23: Work continues on Donald Trump's golf course currently under construction on the Menie estate on April 23, 2012 in Aberdeen, Scotland. Mr Trump will appear before the Scottish Parliaments Economy, Energy and Tourism committee on Wednesday to voice his concerns over the Scottish government's policy of promoting wind power. A decision is expected later this year on the government's plans to erect 11 turbines of the coast next to the Menie estate golf course. (Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)
ABERDEEN, SCOTLAND - JULY 10: 10: Donald Trump and Colin Montgomerie share a joke after the opening of The Trump International Golf Links Course on July 10, 2012 in Balmedie, Scotland. The controversial £100m course opens to the public on Sunday July 15. Further plans to build hotels and homes on the site have been put on hold until a decision has been made on the building of an offshore windfarm nearby. (Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images)
ABERDEEN, SCOTLAND - APRIL 23: Work continues on Donald Trump's golf course currently under construction on the Menie estate on April 23, 2012 in Aberdeen, Scotland. Mr Trump will appear before the Scottish Parliaments Economy, Energy and Tourism committee on Wednesday to voice his concerns over the Scottish government's policy of promoting wind power. A decision is expected later this year on the government's plans to erect 11 turbines of the coast next to the Menie estate golf course. (Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)
US tycoon Donald Trump (C) addresses the media as he officially opens his new multi-million pound Trump International Golf Links course in Aberdeenshire, Scotland, on July 10, 2012. Work on the course began in July 2010, four years after the plans were originally submitted. AFP PHOTO / Andy Buchanan (Photo credit should read Andy Buchanan/AFP/GettyImages)
ABERDEEN, SCOTLAND - APRIL 23: Michael Forbes stands beside his shed, near to Donald Trump's golf course which is currently under construction on the Menie estate on April 23, 2012 in Aberdeen, Scotland. Mr Trump will appear before the Scottish Parliaments Economy, Energy and Tourism committee on Wednesday to voice his concerns over the Scottish government's policy of promoting wind power. A decision is expected later this year on the government's plans to erect 11 turbines of the coast next to the Menie estate golf course. (Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)
ABERDEEN, SCOTLAND - JULY 10: Donald Trump plays a round of golf after the opening of The Trump International Golf Links Course on July 10, 2012 in Balmedie, Scotland. The controversial £100m course opens to the public on Sunday July 15. Further plans to build hotels and homes on the site have been put on hold until a decision has been made on the building of an offshore windfarm nearby. (Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images)
US tycoon Donald Trump plays a stroke as he officially opens his new multi-million pound Trump International Golf Links course in Aberdeenshire, Scotland, on July 10, 2012. Work on the course began in July 2010, four years after the plans were originally submitted. AFP PHOTO / Andy Buchanan (Photo credit should read Andy Buchanan/AFP/GettyImages)
ABERDEEN, SCOTLAND - APRIL 23: Michael Forbes stands beside his shed, near to Donald Trump's golf course which is currently under construction on the Menie estate on April 23, 2012 in Aberdeen, Scotland. Mr Trump will appear before the Scottish Parliaments Economy, Energy and Tourism committee on Wednesday to voice his concerns over the Scottish government's policy of promoting wind power. A decision is expected later this year on the government's plans to erect 11 turbines of the coast next to the Menie estate golf course. (Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)
ABERDEEN, SCOTLAND - JULY 10: Donald Trump (2nd R) opens The Trump International Golf Links Course as (L-R) George O'Grady, Colin Montgomerie and Don Trump Jr look on, on July 10, 2012 in Balmedie, Scotland. The controversial £100m course opens to the public on Sunday July 15. Further plans to build hotels and homes on the site have been put on hold until a decision has been made on the building of an offshore windfarm nearby. (Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images)
ABERDEEN, SCOTLAND - OCTOBER 08: Tripping Up Trump campaigner holds a copy of the newspaper Menie Voices outside Robert Gordon University on October 8, 2010 in Aberdeen, Scotland. US business man Donald Trump recieved his honourary award of Doctor of Business Administration from the University. Mr Trump is currently building a golf development at the Menie Eastate outside Aberdeen. (Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)
EDINBURGH, SCOTLAND - APRIL 25: Donald Trump speaks during a press conference following his address to the Scottish Parliament on April 25, 20012 in Edinburgh, Scotland. Trump spoke of his concerns over a proposed wind farm, mooted to built near his new GBP 1 billion golf resort, telling the Scottish Parliament that they will destroy tourism in the country. (Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)
ABERDEEN, SCOTLAND - APRIL 23: Work continues on Donald Trump's golf course currently under construction on the Menie estate on April 23, 2012 in Aberdeen, Scotland. Mr Trump will appear before the Scottish Parliaments Economy, Energy and Tourism committee on Wednesday to voice his concerns over the Scottish government's policy of promoting wind power. A decision is expected later this year on the government's plans to erect 11 turbines of the coast next to the Menie estate golf course. (Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)
of
SEE ALL
BACK TO SLIDE
SHOW CAPTION +
HIDE CAPTION

FREEZING GUSTS

"It would be funny if Trump won. It might boost tourism," said Donald, a Lewis pensioner living near the MacLeod family seat.

"But only for a while," interjected his wife Anne, with the caution habitual of the island.

The couple recalled that Trump's mother would visit from the United States in the summer, and Trump's millionaire father Fred would ship over a Cadillac to carry her around the marshy island during her stay.

"You'd end up in the ditch if you were trying to drive past them, I remember that," said Donald with a laugh.

Lewis, in the Outer Hebrides island chain, is a picturesque place, dotted with lakes, hills and open tracts of moor and almost devoid of trees. A freezing gust can whip your breath away or a warm breeze can surprise you with its gentleness.

Trump stopped for a brief visit in 2008, jetting in on his private plane when he was trying to launch a golf business near Aberdeen in mainland Scotland and holding a news conference.

This Is Who's Laughing at Us, According to Donald Trump

He has not returned since, although he has visited Scotland several times and runs two golf courses on the mainland, one in Ayrshire and another in Aberdeenshire.

He was then offered the possibility of an investment in Lews (sic) Castle, a run-down Victorian country house in Stornoway built by another millionaire, Sir James Matheson, when he bought the island in the mid-19th century.

"He just didn't think he was going to make any money out of it. He knows his roots are here but he's more interested in his golf investments elsewhere," said council official Nigel Scott.

People are not easily swayed in Lewis, where strong bonds between neighbors and family are necessary to withstand the harshness of rural life, said Calum Iain Macleod a Presbyterian minister from the parish where Mary Anne MacLeod was born.

"When the Atlantic is throwing a force 10 and you can barely stand and your windows are caked with salt, it is extreme and it is tough," he said.

"Being on this island where The Minch separates you from the center of gravity, you feel more vulnerable," he said, referring to a strait that separates the Outer Hebrides from the mainland.

The influence of the Church itself, which is well-attended, also makes for a tranquil place. Sundays are still almost entirely commerce-free and pubs and hotels which serve alcohol are very few, in contrast to the rest of Britain.

Trump's desire to recall his historic Scottish roots may have another purpose, suggests novelist MacNeil.

"Perhaps he simply wants a Scotland-shaped mirror to reflect back his own perceived glory."

Read Full Story

Sign up for Breaking News by AOL to get the latest breaking news alerts and updates delivered straight to your inbox.

Subscribe to our other newsletters

Emails may offer personalized content or ads. Learn more. You may unsubscribe any time.

From Our Partners