Happy St. Patrick’s Day to Montserrat (and others celebrating today). With the distinction of being the only nation outside of Ireland to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day as a national holiday, the island of Montserrat comes alive for the annual event. To commemorate the slave uprising that took place on the predominantly Irish island on St. Patrick’s Day in 1768, Montserratians celebrate the holiday with activities that include feasts, parades, concerts, and outdoor theater productions.
Montserrat exhibits a noticeable Irish heritage. The island was the home for indentured Irish Catholic servants in the British West Indies and the influence of their culture is still felt today. The harp and female figure on the flag and official seal of Montserrat are derived from the Irish heraldry and in the southern region of the island, there is even a village named St. Patrick’s (located in the exclusion zone). Goat water, the national dish made of kid or mutton and spiced with cloves and rum, hails from the original Emerald Isle. The Irish legacy is present in the folklore, surnames and even the local speech, which is laced with Irish brogue.
Celebrations began on Friday, March 11 and will end on Sunday March 20. The annual St Patrick’s Week is a coming together of old and young to celebrate Montserrat’s heritage. Highlights of the week included lectures; performances by dance troupes; the Freedom Hike of the Duberry-Cassava Trail; the Kite Festival; the All-Island Heritage Feast; and performances by various groups including the Irish the Martin Healy Band, Emerald Community Singers, and masqueraders. The highly anticipated Junior Calypso Final and a beach jam will close out the celebrations this weekend.
For more information, visit www.visitmontserrat.com, http://www.caribbeannewsnow.com/headline-Montserrat-St-Patrick’s-Festival-2011—a-lively-and-entertaining-cultural-celebration-4892.html and http://repeatingislands.com/2010/02/07/montserrat-prepares-for-st-patricks-day-celebrations/