St Paddy's Day celebrations

Words & Photos: Duane Stacey, Dale Barrow & Andrea Smit

Leprechauns in search of that elusive pot-o-gold or lucky four-leafed clover descended on the Western Cape on Saturday, 15 March 2014, to celebrate the death of the most commonly-recognised patron saint of Ireland, Saint Patrick. Settling on the outskirts of Stellenbosch, the aptly-named partnership of Wild Clover Farm and 4Leaf Agency set about hosting one of Cape Town’s unique Irish celebrations.

Photo credit: Andrea Smit

Frankie Hannigan, director of 4Leaf Agency and an Irishman himself, spent several years in the Western Cape searching for the best St. Paddy’s events around, but was left with the realisation that you need a true Irishman to capture the magic behind the traditional festivities. As the ideas bubbled through his staunch Irish accent, he became increasingly enthusiastic about the opportunity of being able to host such an event himself.

The event started at 12h00 and early comers were treated to some charming traditional Irish step dancing performed by dancers between the ages of 6 and 18, who were well choreographed by Wendy May. Their dazzling performances left onlookers astonished at the skill level of these tap-dance sensations, who added a real Irish feel to proceedings. Between the traditional dance acts, members from the crowd were encouraged to participate in their own dance routine and spot prizes were handed out to those with the best moves, as well as those best dressed to the theme of 'releasing your inner leprechaun'.

Worldwide, the sales of Guinness increase substantially in the month of March and, of course, at an Irish event of this nature, 'the black gold' that most leprechauns were in search of was flowing freely. Wild Clover Farm also has its own brewery on site and provided some other great tasting beers, such as Blind Mole, Black Dog and Double Owl. Appropriately, the crowd favourite seemed to be the green coloured and specially engineered St. Patrick’s Day Ale, which coloured conversations late on into the evening.

The market-type atmosphere provided good grub too, with choices ranging from pizzas to prego steaks. This seemed to tide over the hungry guests as they relaxed on the hay bales or under the Bedouin tents, a comfortable setting for those who had entered early, to recharge their batteries before the evening’s entertainment took centre stage.

Photo credit: Dale Barrows

Ticket holders were treated to spectacular views as the sunset over False Bay, leaving a golden outline of Table Mountain shimmering on the horizon. The luck of the Irish seemed to bless the event as a full moon rose into the night sky and a blazing bonfire set the scene for an amazing line-up of up of local artists. Showcasing their talents and entertaining the crowd were groups such as Boomslang Alley, Long Time Citizen, Ratrod Cats, De Wallen Band and Skelmbosch, with the headline act being SA Idols finalist Mark Haze, who put on a glittering performance. Adding to the occasion was the Six Nations Championship decider between Ireland and France, in which Irish legend Brian O’Driscoll would play his last test for his beloved country. 'Shoulder te shoulder' the party gathered around scattered television screens to watch Ireland grind out a nerve-racking victory. Celebrations continued long into the night as the green goblins shifted from the bar viewing area to flash around the dance floor and bonfire areas.

Pat Smyth, the owner of Wild Clover is excited about future events to be held on the farm. The venue has much to offer with its country pub, Wild Clover Brewery, winery, coffee roastery, restaurant, jungle gym and kids play arena, which were all on show for visitors to enjoy. There is even a remote-controlled aeroplane landing strip, which should attract enthusiasts to an event soon to be scheduled.

Says Pat, "The next Wild Clover event (FamFest), planned for 13 April 2014, is an event not to be missed and one the whole family should attend." Parents can leave their children in capable hands in the children’s arena while they enjoy the festivities and all the farm has to offer. Keep an eye out for future events at this venue as it is bound to be an experience to remember.

If any Irish Leprechauns were in search of gold, they surely found it at Wild Clover Farm, with St. Paddy’s day celebrated in true Irish fashion.