It is my pleasure, as Premier and minister with responsibility for culture, to bring you warm and festive greetings, as we observe St. Patrick’s Day today.

We welcome all returning Montserratians along with visitors and friends of Montserrat who have come to join us in this year’s St. Patrick’s celebrations

While the entire week of activities, was filled with cheerful events and generally positive energy, it is important that today we recognise and reflect on the more somber aspects of this celebration. 

March 17, 1768 has been etched in our history books as a significant day, in our forefather’s attempts to experience a better life on Montserrat; a life free from oppression under the unjust system of slavery.  Although that slave rebellion was unsuccessful, we today, commemorate the bravery of our African ancestors, and pay homage to those who lost their lives for the advancement of Montserrat and its people.

This quest for a better life and better Montserrat continues today, with so many of us working together and making major sacrifices for the advancement and development of this island.

The strength, resilience and determination of our ancestors are required for nation building. These characteristics have undoubtedly been passed on to many of us who are committed to the development of this our beloved homeland wherever in the world we may find ourselves.

In this regard, the Government of Montserrat continues to honour those who have made sterling contributions to the island. As you are aware, the Government on the 12th of March this year, bestowed national Honours on six deserving Montserratians, building on the National awards programme which began in 2014; I can assure you that this act of recognition will continue.

At this point, it is imperative that I pay tribute to The Right Honourable Justin ‘Hero’ Cassell, O.E. now deceased.  In 2020 he was bestowed with the Order of Excellence for his service and achievements towards the advancement of music, locally, regionally and internationally. 

As a cultural icon, he has contributed remarkably to the growth and development of the St. Patrick’s Festival, serving in various capacities, including Coordinator of the Committee.  He helped to propel the St. Patrick’s commemoration to the level and standard we are experiencing today and has always advocated for the continued expansion of the festival.

The government and people of Montserrat Honours the Memory of Justin “Hero” Cassell OE.

Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, the St Patrick’s festival provides an opportunity for us to connect with our forefathers in various ways. The music, singing, dancing and partaking in traditional foods are linked to our heritage.

Our ancestors had an uncanny ability to find ways to experience periods of happiness even during less than ideal circumstances. 

So as we experience all the positive elements of the St. Patrick’s celebration, it is important that we as a people understand the historical and cultural significance of this day.

Today, while I urge us all not to forget the significance of march 17, 1768, and our African Heritage, the fact remains that our heritage also includes the Irish who settled here in the 17th century.   It is the fusion of our African and Irish heritage which makes Montserrat’s St Patrick’s celebration unique.

As we approach the culmination of our St. Patrick’s Festival, I would like to encourage you and your families to attend today’s Parade and St. Patrick’s Day Heritage Feast for a cultural experience like no other.

If you were unable to make it home for St. Patrick’s this year, we are offering another opportunity for you to experience Paradise.

In July of this year, Montserratians wherever you are living, you are invited to come home, as we celebrate the ingathering of our  Peoples for the Calabash Festival which will also include the Montserrat Diaspora and Investment Engagement. 

This is an opportunity for you to experience the beauty, vibrancy and tranquility of Montserrat during your summer holiday, while also allowing us to strengthen our connections with the global Montserratian community and encouraging investment in Montserrat.

Start planning now to join us in July 2024.

Happy St. Patrick’s Day to all!

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