Paddy O’Shea was the first Irishman in China. Indeed, he was the first foreigner in China to open a pub, which was a regular haunt of 13th century visitors to Beijing such as the Polo brothers, Maffeo and Niccilo.
Paddy was born in 1244 in a village called Ballyshea, in the south of Ireland. His parents, Paddy Senior and Bridget, infused Paddy with a passion for books and storytelling, fuelling in him a strong sense of adventure and a longing to see lands far away.
At the age of 16, Paddy was captured by Welsh pirates and spent some time as a slave aboard a ship captained by the legendary One-eyed Wally. One-eyed Wally took a liking to Paddy, and he was soon promoted to first mate and soon became a seasoned sailor. But four years at sea had taken a toll on his health. Suffering from a severe vitamin A deficiency and a bad dose of Uncombable Hair Syndrome, Paddy found himself hospitalized.
After recovering his health and hair in late 1265, he set off on his travels and with his faithful camel, Biddy, Paddy finally found himself in Beijing, the new capital of the Great Kublai Khan, in 1267, some years before the Polo Brothers. Traveling over 5,000 miles by land was a Guinness World record at the time.
Paddy signed up for a 4-month crash course in Chinese at the local school and quickly started to apply his newly-acquired language skills, recounting stories of his travels in the court of the Great Kublai Khan. Paddy quickly became a palace favourite and his connections to the Great Khan speed up the approval process for the pub Paddy had always dreamed of opening.
700 years on, Paddy O’Shea is still remembered as a gifted storyteller and carouser extraordinaire. But most of all, he was a man of the people, always willing to listen to his customers’ problems and offer advice, from how to cure a hangover to marriage counselling – the first publican of the modern age. Here’s to you, Paddy!
Paddy led an exceptional life, travelling far and wide.
Along his travels, he collected and perfected delicious, secret recipes for family favourite dishes.
Now, they are yours to enjoy…