No blarney about it
Irish native, pub owner offers peek into St. Patrick’s Day celebrations near and far

By Josh Perttunen - Enterprise Staff

March 13, 2014

Aelred Gannon says his stints behind the bar at The Pub have grown less frequent as he spends more time in the kitchen. But regulars at the establishment enjoyed chatting with him when given the opportunity Tuesday. Topics range all over, he says, and the bartenders at his bar are constantly chatting with patrons.
Josh Perttunen/Enterprise Staff

OCONOMOWOC - St. Patrick’s Day is on Monday, but Irish heritage is celebrated year-round at The Pub in Oconomowoc. Pub owners Aelred and Bernadette Gannon came to the United States by way of Sligo Town, Ireland, and say the establishment is as close to what can be found in Ireland as possible.

All of the decor in their restaurant and bar, located at 114 N. Main St., comes from their native country, Aelred Gannon noted. He visits Ireland at least once a year. 

He offered the Enterprise a peek into the St. Patrick’s Day celebrations of his Irish past and his present as an Oconomowoc’s resident publican (the title bestowed on Irish pub owners).

 

ENTERPRISE: How authentic is The Pub experience?

GANNON: It’s as close to an Irish pub as you’re going to find. Though you can find many “Irish pubs” out there, it’s not the same. You can build a building to make it look like an Irish pub, but if it doesn’t have an Irish soul, it’s not really an Irish pub.

 

ENTERPRISE: What is a patron likely to find at your establishment?

GANNON: We have pints of Guinness, Murphy’s, Harp and Smithwicks. Guinness is the biggest seller of all. We have authentic Irish food. My wife serves as hostess and people enjoy her accent. We also provide traditional Irish music every Thursday night.

 

ENTERPRISE: Does that mean you could someone could break into a jig?

GANNON: A jig has been known to happen, but not from me. I might play the whistle for one, but won’t dance it.

 

ENTERPRISE: What do you do to creative a festive atmosphere on St. Patrick’s Day?

GANNON: We open at 11 a.m. and provide corned beef and cabbage to anyone who wants it. You have to do corned beef and cabbage and you have to do a lot of it. The Pub is just a good place to come and let your Irish hang out for the day. St. Patrick’s Day is our biggest day of the year.

 

ENTERPRISE: How is the celebration of St. Patrick’s Day here different than what you experienced growing up in Ireland?

GANNON: When I was in Ireland, St. Patrick’s Day was more of a religious holiday. St. Patrick’s Day and Easter were of similar importance. You’d go to church, have dinner with your family and then go see the parade if your town had one. It wasn’t the 18-hour drinking fest that it is now.

Though I go back often, I haven’t actually been in Ireland on St. Patrick’s Day . . . it may be that it is more of a drinking holiday there now.

Also, corned beef and cabbage is an American Irish dish. The authentic Irish dish is actually boiled bacon and cabbage. When you think about it historically, it makes sense. The small farmers in Ireland couldn’t afford beef. The cows they had were kept for milk. The United States, on the other hand, has enough space and enough beef to feed the world.

 

ENTERPRISE: Are people curious about your accent?

GANNON: Yes. They still have a lot of questions. If they want to know the history, we will go through the history. Most people want advice on where to visit.

Email: Jperttunen@conleynet.com