WHISKEY WIZARD OF OZ; Irishman Pat brings a taste of the old country to beer-loving Aussies.
Sitting in the Trinity Hotel in Sydney, watching him at 'work', it's not hard to see why.
Because Pat, 62, spends his days giving away Jameson Irish Whiskey.
The former actor-turned-businessman is on a mission to convert the beer-swilling Aussies to the golden liquid distilled in the Emerald Isle.
Small wonder then that he's always the most popular man in the pub, attracting a crowd of Friday afternoon drinkers all keen for a free taste as he pours QUADRUPLES.
"I'm the John the Baptist of Irish whiskey," said Pat. "I baptise ignorant Aussies in Jameson and bless them with Bushmills, our other product.
"It's all great craic, so it is. God, I love my job, spreading happiness the length and breadth of Australia."
Pat's converts include President Bill Clinton, with whom he has played golf, and Eyes Wide Shut star Tom Cruise.
"Tom loves a drop of Jameson - in moderation of course," said Pat.
At the age of 62, with careers in acting and journalism behind him, Pat says he has found his true calling.
And with a backdrop of Sydney Harbour and the Opera House and an address close to Bondi Beach, it is one hell of a stage.
When it comes to drink, he put in years of study at the feet of the masters. As a jobbing actor in London, he was in digs with Brendan Behan.
"It was the world's worst boarding house, but Brendan made life interesting," said Pat.
"He was a very boisterous character and at that time he was just breaking into the London theatre as a writer."
As a starry-eyed teenage actor Pat shared adventures and escapades with with fellow thespians Richard Harris and Peter O'Toole, all of them legendary drinkers.
"We were all talented young men making our way in the world, so quite a bit of drink was taken now and again. Mostly again and again," he said.
"I even had a brush with Charlie Kray in London when I inadvertently shared a girlfriend with him.
"He was very nice about it, really, and I backed off immediately, as you can imagine."
Pat is now director of the Irish Distillers Information Bureau in Australia.
When fate led him to settle in Sydney 30 years ago, he gave up a promising career as a war correspondent for the American NBC network.
The former bit-part actor in the old TV series Emergency Ward 10 - he briefly played Dr McNamara - returned to acting for a time to pay the rent until he found his feet.
"By then I had already been part of the J Arthur Rank Army," he said.
"I played parts in the Army, Navy and Air Force, but I was never promoted above the rank of private, so although my acting career spanned 25 years, I was never a star."
Pat did get to work all over the world, however, before moving Down Under.
For a time in the mid-sixties he had shares in a couple of bars in Spain.
During that time, he commuted between Spain and England, appearing in TV series like Z Cars and The Avengers with Patrick McNee.
Many household names became personal friends of the larger-than-life Irishman with a ready wit, the inbred ability to hold an audience with fascinating tales and a capacity to hold his drink.
Then, with the world in constant conflict, Pat returned to his calling of journalism.
But by the time he flew to Australia for a short holiday with his brother in Sydney, he was ready for another sea change.
"I was a war correspondent based in London then, but when I arrived in Australia I went straight from Sydney airport to the Middle Harbour Yacht Club.
"There, I walked bang into an Aussie actor friend of mine called John Mellion. John was an actor's actor. When I told him what I was doing, he told me to forget it.
"He thought being a war correspondent was bloody dangerous and a waste of my talents.
"He said he had plenty of work for me as an actor and I never left."
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|Publication:||The Mirror (London, England)|
|Date:||Aug 4, 1999|
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