Montserrat Travel Vacation: the Caribbean with a Twist
Considering its location, Montserrat has a very strange claim to fame: Irish culture is alive and well on this "Emerald Isle" in the Caribbean.
Only two places in the world celebrate St. Patrick's Day as a national holiday: Ireland, of course, and Montserrat.
And guess what Montserrat's national flag depicts? The legendary Irish woman named Erin, playing her ancient Irish harp! But wait, there's more ....
A shamrock is carved on the door of the Governor's house, and a green shamrock is stamped into every visitor's passport upon entering the island.
The country's national dish, Goat Water, has its roots in Ireland. Despite its odd name, Goat Water is a kidney or mutton stew spiced with rum and cloves.
The telephone directory is populated with Sweeneys, O'Briens, Ryans, Daleys, Gibbons and other common Irish surnames.
The British are responsible for this strange cultural oddity. In the 17th century, a conflict between Great Britain and Ireland resulted in an Irish defeat.
Irish prisoners were sent by the British to Montserrat to serve as indentured servants, working alongside African slaves.
Over time, the Irish fulfilled the terms of their indenture and were freed. While some migrated to other Caribbean islands, most chose to remain on Montserrat.
The Irish were so pervasive on the island that six of Montserrat's 17th-century Governors were of Irish ancestry.
Today, the descendants of African slaves and Irish indentured servants have combined to create an unusual society that successfully blends strong influences from both cultures.
Tourism on Montserrat is making a big comeback after the devastation the island suffered during a 1997 volcanic eruption. Although the country's former capital, Plymouth, remains buried under volcanic ash, it provides an unusual tourist attraction.
The remainder of Montserrat has rebounded and the island once again offers mountainous landscapes blanketed by lush vegetation. The island is also blessed with exotic dark sand beaches and pristine reefs that await snorkelers and divers looking for sites for underwater exploration.
Prior to the destructive eruption, Montserrat was a popular destination with jet setters and Hollywood film stars. Today, the country is positioning itself for a rebirth of its tourist industry, and it now boasts a new airport and a new capital city.
Montserrat offers secluded beaches, affordable accommodations, diverse restaurants and first-class diving. Montserrat might not be ideal for everyone, but if you're seeking uncrowded beaches, spectacular natural beauty, extensive hiking trails, world-class diving and the opportunity to see what is essentially a modern-day Pompeii, this island country will deliver.
And you'll get a strong dash of Irish culture thrown in for free. A Montserrat Travel vacation is quite the most unusual Caribbean adventure!
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