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. It was declared a national holiday in 1985.
Showcasing the mix of Irish and African heritage, the week-long festival will take place from March 13 to 20 at various locations throughout the island. This year’s schedule of events includes a Freedom Hike, a Kite Festival at Blake’s Football Field and the annual St. Patrick’s Day Dinner on March 13. The celebrations continue with a church service followed by a performing arts presentation by a dance troupe from India at the Montserrat Cultural Centre on March 14. Residents and locals will be treated to an arts and craft exhibition as well as a cultural performance by the Emerald Community Singers Irish Cabaret at the Montserrat Cultural Centre on March 15.
Cultural presentations resume on the eve of St. Patrick’s Day with the Penny Concert for Senior Citizens at the Lookout Community Centre. The highlight of the week takes place on March 17 with festivities that include a Freedom Run/Walk, Heritage Day Feast where traditional local food will be on sale, along with a revival of traditional games, stor telling and performances by masked street dancers in traditional costumes and Ole Time Bingo, held at Festival Village.
On March 19, Montserratians will celebrate the Island Wide Day of Celebration of National Pride, Market Day String Band Nite and the highly anticipated island pub crawl. The pub crawl, with bars and restaurants will provide both residents and visitors with the opportunity to toast to good health and prosperity over a pint of Guinness. The St. Patrick’s Day celebrations will culminate with a Junior Calypso Competition on March 20.
Of all the Caribbean islands, Montserrat is the only one to boast 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. For more information, visit www.visitmontserrat.com.
Press release from http://www.travelpulse.com/Resources/Editorial.aspx?n=66753