On the Island of Montserrat (The Emerald Isle of the Caribbean) the St. Patrick’s (Afro-Irish) Festival is a week long celebration highlighting Montserrat’s local culture and Irish heritage. The festival culminates on St. Patrick’s Day, (March 17th) also the date of the slave uprising of 1768. A few examples of Montserrat’s Irish history that can still be seen today include the national dress which is Green, Orange and White (colors of the Irish Flag), as well as the Shamrock-Shaped stamp received on your passport upon entering the island. Montserrat’s Irish heritage dates back to the 17th century when the island became a haven for persecuted Irish Catholics. Montserratans are descendants of both Irish & African Slaves and it has been stated that many spoke Gaelic until about 1900 (I am looking for verification/ other sources). More HERE.
You can view this interesting video from the RTÉ Archives about the Black Irish of Montserrat. It originally aired in 1976 as part of the Radharc Documentaries, (one of a six-part series exploring the topic of Irish and religious interest in the West Indies and Peru).
This year’s festival started on March 9th and is in progress through Monday March 18, 2013. During the festival you can experience local culture and music including Masqueraders (masked street dancers in traditional costumes, tall head dresses and whips) perform, prancing to the lively sound of fife and drum: a blend of African and European elements forged out of slavery. String band music, a traditional combination of instruments includes the banjo, ‘boompipe’, guitar, mouth organ, triangle, ‘shak shak’ and bass drum are also on show, along with steel band (steel drum) performances.
PS. I will launch the Black Irish Archive in late 2013/ early 2014, so stay tuned and/ or visit the link to receive an email when the site launches.