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July 22, 2019

Irish Zimbabwe Diaspora


The Irish diaspora is something that I simply hadn’t thought much about until today, let alone the Irish Zimbabwe diaspora. We are creatures of habit, and I suppose the UK media focus on the African diaspora just made it possible to overlook the obvious fact that Irish migration was so widespread at one time that no family was unaffected.

An article in Irish Central claims that Zimbabwe is actually the home of one of the oldest Irish diaspora groups worldwide.

Mashonaland Irish Association

When the Mashonaland Irish Association celebrated St. Patrick’s Day in Salisbury, 1891, the Irish Zimbabwe link was established and recorded. The venue was a roofless structure that was later developed and became the first hotel in Salisbury.

While conditions were primitive, the right spirit was in sufficient measure; wines, whiskey, Delagoa Bay gin and a ham were procured from the wagon of the aristocratic Compte de la Panouse who followed the column with his wares and delicacies.

Joseph Woods

Further Information

The Miscellany (edited by Joseph Woods) is a collection of contributions from members, historians, poets, priests, nuns, missionaries and more. It’s a diverse number of voices and personalities across time telling their tales and perceptions about precolonial Anglo-Irish to the Jewish-Irish.

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1891 was really early in the colonial history of the area. It rooted migrants from Ireland right into the early pioneer society of the era. Our family, like many others, has an “Uncle Spud” – Tales, traditions, recipes, remedies and place names were carried with these individuals who left Ireland for Africa.

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I haven’t read it as I don’t have a copy yet, but I would like to. It promises honest and unique glimpses from people and era that have gone out of fashion – Times and tales that did happen, regardless of opinions today around whether or not they should have.

There is renewed interest in the stories of everyday people from social history all over the world. This makes this a topical read for anyone interested in the era, the Irish migration and pioneer experience as well as life in that time and place generally.

The MIA has a Facebook Group

Is Zimbabwe “a mirror to Ireland’s face?”

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