Caribbean island goes green for St Patrick's day

Caribbean island goes green for St Patrick's day

THE tiny Caribbean island of Montserrat has kicked off its St Patrick’s Day celebrations – with colourful festivities planned for 10 days.

The remote island is the only territory outside Ireland where March 17 is a national holiday.

And tourist chiefs of the volcanic outcrop are anticipating their busiest day of the year on St Patrick’s Day, when throngs of visitors are expected to make their way over on extra ferries laid on from nearby Antigua for the Afro-Irish festival.

The island’s Irish connection was first forged when Catholic dissidents moved from nearby St Kitts. By 1678 they were the majority in a population of 3,674 that included 992 enslaved Africans.

In 1768 the slaves organised a rebellion on St Patrick’s Day, reckoning their masters would be too drunk to fight back.  However, the plot was leaked and nine slaves were hanged.

The island’s celebrations were originally held in the slaves’ honour and it was declared a public holiday in 1984.

Tagged the ‘Caribbean Emerald Isle’ and home to a population of less than 5,000 people, visitors to the 50sq km outpost get their passports stamped with a shamrock.

by Nick Bramhill