Montserrat has made a name for itself as one of the smallest nations in the world where St. Patrick’s Day March 17, is a national holiday.
The question is often asked Why?
The answers differ from celebrating our Irish heritage, our African history and our own remembrance of the 1768 massacre of slaves who tried to overthrow the powers that be of the age, their slave masters.
Montserrat’s foremost historian Sir Howard Fergus has shed some light on the question and brought clarity to how all of these answers come together to tell the Montserrat version of St. Patrick’s Day.
St. Patrick’s Festival Celebration on Montserrat – A History was commissioned by the Office of the Premier and funded through the Montserrat Arts Council.
On Monday, March 14, 2022, the book was launched to an intimate audience at the Montserrat Cultural Centre and to those watching online.
Premier Joseph Farrell said the book is needed for the cultural and educational awareness of Montserratians at home and abroad. He extended gratitude to Dr Howard Fergus for providing a complete history for a landmark event which will be a resource for generations to come.
Librarian Sonja Smith in her review of the new book, said it “…is an ode to the long-dead unnamed slaves who died for an ideal of freedom that they could only see by faith. They are our unsung heroes. We have longed for a historical account behind the Montserrat celebration of St. Patrick’s Day and I would dare to propose that this record is here.”
After brief remarks about the new book, Dr. Fergus fielded questions from the audience on common fallacies around the festival and the actions that took place on March 17, 1768. To the question on whether the island had gotten the story wrong placing too much focus on the Irish connection, he said “what we want to do is keep it authentic even when we are trying to bring in the tourists. It can be a draw in its own right.”
Music for the evening was provided by young steel pan artist Kayah.
Books are available for purchase from the MAC office in Little Bay for $60 and on amazon for US$22.
Watch the Book Launch Below