There’s an advert on Irish television where the winner of the EuroMillions lottery buys a tropical island for his friends and family… oh Ireland in the sun!
Didn’t he know there was a Caribbean island there already which is more Irish than Ireland?
Montserrat is the tiny 39 and a half sqm Emerald Island of the Caribbean because of its Irish links which run deep.
The Irish have been around the Leeward Island since 1632, sent there from neighbouring St Kitts and later Virginia.
Fly the flag
Montserrat was to build a thriving economy around tobacco and indigo (that’s blue dye) and later tobacco and sugar.
Fast forward to today by way of Cromwell’s transportations, and if it wasn’t for the sun, palm trees, volcano and rain forest you’d swear you were in Ireland.
It’s there in the island flag with its figure of a cailín standing by a cross and holding a harp. We’ll gloss over the Union flag in the corner.
While a shamrock adorns Government House.
So why then is Montserrat not a throng of Irish visitors from the Old Country?
Possibly because they prefer the Canaries and there is a lot to like about them but say that it’s Tenerife you love then you’ll love Montserrat too.
There’s the volcano which gives you the distinctive black beaches shared by both islands, though there is one white beach that we all love too on Montserrat.
While there’s evidence of the volcano’s activity in the form of a buried city, and now St Vincent’s has awoken and is erupting the focus switches south to the ghost town of Plymouth.
The best place to view it is from the Garibaldi Hill viewpoint or the viewpoint from Jack Boy Hill on the east of the island following a short hike.
Combined, of course, with a trip to the Montserrat Volcano Observatory.
While Montserrat’s Irishness is all around you in its symbols (the shamrock stamp in your passport), names of villages and they say too in an Irish brogue it goes into overdrive around St Patrick’s Day.
When the Montserratians tie in their own commemoration of their slavery past with the saint’s day.
For the craic, yes, but also because it is steeped in their history.
St Paddy’s Day, mon
On St. Patrick’s Day in 1768, the African slaves on the island rose up and it is alleged nine slaves were hanged.
And they have never been forgotten with St. Patrick’s Day now heradling a ten-day festival to honour their Afro-Irish heritage.
Again there are too few of the Irish who go out to Montserrat, and we mean to do something about it.
Martin Healy and his band have been pioneers over recent years.
And trawling through the records we’ve seen that Martin is a regular visitor out to the Emerald Island
Where he was a special guest at Governor’s wife Sujue Davis’s popular latest Coffee Morning on Tuesday, March 11 before that same evening performing at the Uncle’s bar/restaurant a popular night spot in Flemings.
And the Montserrat Reporter (are you employing?) chronicled that ‘the three-man Irish band performed throughout the week at probably every ‘rum shop and bar’ and is a major performer in the popular “Pub Crawl’.
So Montserrat, all 4,900 of them, celebrates their Irish roots with good trad music then, and also its Caribbean heritage with our favourite Soca Music.
Arrow hits the mark
Hot-hot-hot? Yeah, you now it, mon. It’s this classic from one of Montserrat’s favourite sons, the legendary late Soca star Arrow
So to get there… you’ll fly out of the UK to Antigua where it’s only a 15-minute flight out to your Ireland in the Sun.
And here’s where you’ll stay with a wide range of hotel rooms, guest houses, villas and apartments all flagged up on the Montserrat site.
And with less than 5,000 people on the island, everyone practically knows each other, and if you say you’re Irish you’ll get a warm welcome from Warren and Cherise!
And next up is Jamaica where we’ll bring you all the news of how they’re jammin’.