Journeys of Discovery: Caribbean isle of Montserrat's Irish connection

Mar 8, 2021

 

The only country outside of Ireland that celebrates St. Patrick’s Day as a national holiday is the petite isle of Montserrat in the midst of the Eastern Caribbean. The British Overseas Territory’s flag is emblazoned with the Irish Harp and the words Erin along with a Union Jack in a corner. Pass through customs and your passport is stamped with a green Irish Clover.  

How Did the Irish Get There? Emigration from Ireland to the lush green Caribbean commenced in earnest on the heels of the defeat at the Battle of Kinsale near Cork in 1601. Thousands of disgruntled and disenfranchised Irish Catholics packed their bags in hopes of a better life in the Caribbean. For many it was brutal indentured servitude on St. Kitts and other Caribbean islands for 5 to 7 years work in exchange for their ultimate freedom and the hope of becoming landholders.

The next rush of Irish Catholic emigrants arrived under duress. They were unwilling deportees, transported following Oliver Cromwell’s genocidal invasion of Ireland in 1649 and subsequently even more under Cromwell’s son’s watch.

By the mid-seventeen hundreds, Montserrat census records listed more than 1,500 Irish, 700 English, 52 Scotts, and 1,000 West African slaves. In addition to an overview of Montserrat’s Irish connection, we’ll learn about Montserrat’s annual weeklong St. Patrick’s Festival.

The Montserrat show, winner of the prestigious Lowell Thomas Award, was originally broadcast February 15, 2015 and is reposted as a “best-of-the-best” podcast in celebration of Journeys of Discovery’s 31st  anniversary producing on-air and digital media podcasts featured on KCBX and NPR One.

You are invited to subscribe to the Lowell Thomas Award-winning podcast travel show,  Journeys of Discovery with Tom Wilmer, featured on the NPR Podcast DirectoryiHeartRadioApple Podcast, the NPR One App & Stitcher.com. Twitter: TomCWilmer. Instagram: Thomas.Wilmer. Underwriting support provided by Nashville's Big Back Yard economic initiative focused on rural communities in the southwest quarter of Tennessee and the Shoals Region of Northern Alabama.