by Daniel Toft, Communications Assistant
As the only place outside of Ireland where St Patrick’s Day is a national holiday, Montserrat has celebrated the occasion with a 10-day festival that forms a central part of the island's identity, culture and community. Montserratians took to the streets to enjoy the first in-person day of celebration and commemoration since 2020, with the festival lasting from the 10th March to the 19th March.
The day is primarily celebrated as a nod to the island’s history - on St Patrick’s Day in 1768, a group of enslaved Africans saw an opportunity to capitalise on the day’s celebrations and rebel against the Irish landowners, who they expected to be drunk. The day would be, therefore, the perfect time to have an island-wide revolt. The revolt subsequently failed and led to nine people being hung. The descendents of the slaves who remain on the island ensure that they are commemorated each year.
The festival boasts a mix of events at day and night, with a ceremonial lighting of the flame in Cudjoe’s Head village to commence, which honours all those who died rebelling against slavery on the island. Following this, events such as fashion shows, performances of various plays, bus tours of the island, dances and songs, and speeches by community leaders, take place.
Outside of St Patrick’s Day and the 10 day festivities, the island carries significant Irish influence and connections to Irish culture, including the flag of Montserrat featuring Ireland's goddess Ériu, as well as having villages with Irish names, such as Cork Hill. It is, through this, that it earns its common nickname - “The Emerald Isle of the Caribbean”.