His is the day when you can indulge during 40 days’ self-sacrifice and this year we’ve a St Paddy’s Day Caribbean break from Lenten Fast.
Because the West Indies island that’s even more Irish than Ireland is greening up again.
Which makes you think that Montserrat, Ireland in the sun, gets out padded green costumes, oversized hats and ginger beards.
When it’s more likely to be emerald summer dresses and tropical boardies.
Forty party years
Montserrat’s St Paddy’s Day Festival will celebrate 40 years in 2022.
And it promises to be even better this years for its hiatus through Covid.
Like all Caribbean festivals St Paddy’s Day lasts longer than 24 hours… in this case from March 12-19.
And there is something for everyone too… the Biennial National Honours & Awards and the Junior Calypso Show.
While Comedy in De Tent will make its debut.
The Irish links
Ireland and the Caribbean have long been interlinked with many Irish fleeing puritanical Oliver Cromwell in the 17th century.
Alas, as is the way of these things, a different strata of society also sought out a new world.
Where they could grow plantations and oversee the exploitation of African slaves.
Montserrat’s special relationship with Ireland dates from a significant moment of local empowerment.
When on St Patrick’s Day 1678 they rebelled against their Irish owners, expecting them to be carousing and drunk.
Only they had been tipped off by an Irish woman and the plantation owners were ready for them.
And hanged nine rebels and impaled the head of their leader Cudjoe.
Odd you might think to mark a failed uprising but then very Irish too.
And so within the flag, the coat of arms features Erin playing the harp.
And visitors get an Irish shamrock stamp on their passports.
While many families on the island have Irish surnames from their former slave masters.
It’s a Caribbean thing to channel those slave day milestones into modern festivals, among the best of which is Barbados’s Crop Over.
Ireland and the Caribbean
It was there that I first heard, and became a fan of Soca (Soul of Calypso), a beat-based variant.
And we’re glad, but not surprised to see that it forms part of St Paddy’s Day in Montserrat.
The King of Kings Show features top performers from the Calypso and Soca Monarch competitions from the Carnival back in December.
Visitors planning to join in the festivities are encouraged to book their Antigua-Montserrat journey in advance.
And don’t y’all deserve a Caribbean break from Lenten fast.