St Patrick is a controversial figure, allegedly living from 340-440 AD, at a time when reaching a century must have been much rarer than it is today, judging by the interesting obituaries of centenarians published increasingly frequently in the Daily Telegraph. However, he’s also alleged to have died on March 17, 461, which could have made him 121 on going to Jesus (or Jayzuz!)
He wasn’t Irish. Allegedly he was Welsh; captured by Irish pirates and taken across the water, where he “got God”. Other stories state he was from Cumberland (now Cumbria) in the Lake District.
Popularly, he drove all the snakes from Ireland after they interfered with a 40-day fast he was observing. Spoilsport scientists, however, now claim that there never were any serpents in Eire (nor New Zealand, Greenland, Iceland or Antarctica…some compensation for the cold and damp!)
St Patrick’s Day in Ireland is a party of note and in the USA, even more so. It was huge in this country up until about 25 years ago and now seems to be making a comeback.
“If you’re Irish, come into the parlour,” was the opening line of a popular song when I was a wee’un and if you’re Zimbabwean-Irish, you should have been invited to a cocktail reception at blue@2 Private Wine Bar in Avondale last Wednesday by honorary consul of Ireland to Zimbabwe Garrett (“Gary”) P Killilea.
But, making the most of Ireland’s national day, (or to be sure, to be sure?) the party continues. Today Mashonaland Irish Association’s fun-filled annual St Pat’s Day golf competition will be at Wingate and tonight Mabelreign Country Club celebrate the saint’s day with music by that well known “Mick” Steve Theron.
On Saturday — the actual day —REPS Bar hosts an event as does Borrowdale Country Club, with music by Tony Freeman and Mike Palmer.
Mashonaland Irish Association is the longest established Irish expatriate organisation on the globe and their St Pat’s lunch will be Sunday at Borrowdale Brooke golf club house, an event tied in with Harare’s Got (Irish) Talent in Spades, a ceilidh, where you can enjoy “the creac”. Bookings can be made through Sister Paulette at Emerald Hill on 0773617618.
I won’t be around Ha-ha-ha-hare this weekend as I’m marking St Pat’s Day in the mountains of the Far East (Nyanga/Juliasdale!)
The nearest we have to an Irish pub is O’Hagan’s, Borrowdale Village; I lunched there last Friday on a recce, to see what they had planned. George, the manager, promised punters a feast of Hibernianism, with lots of Guinness stout and Kilkenny Ale and four Irish whiskeys among countless other whiskies on offer.
He said they “hoped” to bring in a top stand-up comedian from South Africa for the weekend, but it sounded a bit nebulous to me. You can’t just fly in entertainers at the drop of a hat to this workers’ paradise. Especially not cabaret comics who, perish the thought, may take the Mickey out of certain front-row politicians.
Last week I had a wonderful rich, velvety, flavoursome cream of “Limerick” potato, leek and pumpkin soup, with a drizzle of additional cream and slice of butter-less bread at US$7 which, I jotted down, was good but not US$7 good. I see, from my archive, 14 months earlier the same dish was US$4, which was –then— just about acceptable. You could probably make two gallons of the stuff for a fiver, then or now!
Phony Irish names of dishes can be a bit wearing, but there was nothing wrong with the flavour, size of helping or piping hot goodness of Shamus’ shepherd’s pie and, at US$9 I don’t think it had increased in price since January 2011. (Big tick for that!)
I wondered about a rather twee ladies-who-lunch-languidly salad accompanying a man-sized helping. Although it comes topped with mashed potato, in Ireland, the dish would probably have root veg, cabbage and peas either as sides or folded into the meat and gravy.
Incidentally my waiter, who said his name was “Vibes”!, but it appears as Kelvin (45) on the bill, did his best to talk me into ordering the daily special: a very un-Irish Cajun-style 330g Canadian salmon fillet with garlic or lemon butter sauce, rice or chips, which sounded good until I heard the bottom line: US$26! (Doth someone jest?)
Puddings were the same price as previously. I looked forward to South Africa’s favourite dessert: rich Malva Pudding originating in Holland, but got an ordinary baked sponge with ice-cream, at US$4. If O’Hagan’s chefs need the recipe for Real McCoy Malva, I have it.
There’s no smoking at the bar or in the dining areas, but outdoor benches and tables were crammed with nicotine addicts.
I see it was voted (by whom?) Zimbabwe Tourism Authority’s Pub-Restaurant of the Year 2011. It would help to learn how many more Pub-Restaurants there are in Zim. And the scroll (signed with a flourish by “Karaoke” Kaseke), would have more impact if the copperplate script had spelled the name of the outlet correctly O’Hagan’s, not O’hagens and put it in Borrowdale Village (aka Sam Levy’s), not simply but inaccurately “Sam levi.”