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St. Patrick's Day Quiz
Irish heritage flourishes in some surprising places
Eric Shackle (Shack)     Print Article 
Published 2007-03-17 10:10 (KST)   
Where in the world is St. Patrick's Day (March 17) so important to people with Irish names that it has become not one day but a whole week of festivities?

Ireland? WRONG!... New York? WRONG... Australia? WRONG AGAIN.

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The surprising answer is: the tiny tropical Emerald Isle of Montserrat, in the Caribbean, where an annual festival to honor the saint who converted the people of Europe's Ireland to Christianity is held from March 12 to 19 this year.

"In the 17th century, the island was a haven for Irish Catholics who had served out their time as indentured servants in the British West Indian islands," says Ishwar Persad, on the island's tourism Web site.

"Today, there's a touch of Ireland in its looks, sounds and even tastes. The harp and the female figure on the island's flag and official seal are derived from the Irish heraldry.

"The local speech is softly laced with Irish brogue and the Irish legacy is evident in surnames and folklore. Even the national dish, Goat Water, a stew made of kid or mutton and spiced with cloves and rum, is of Irish origin."

The festival commemorates a slave rebellion on St. Patrick's Day in 1768. Highlights include feasts, parades, concerts, and outdoor theater shows.

A newspaper article written in 1988 said:
"Montserrat is nicknamed the Emerald Isle for more reasons than its physical similarities with the island of Ireland. Among the original European settlers were Irish Catholics who migrated here from the British island of St. Kitts.

"Many place names, such as Galway, hark back to those times. Some people swear that Montserratians speak with a bit of the Irish brogue. St. Patrick's Day is a national holiday, and visitors' passports are stamped with a shamrock!"
In Ireland's capital, Dublin, the St. Patrick's Day festival is spread over five days. This year's parade will attract the largest contingent of American participants since 9/11. Performers and floats from Africa, India, Poland, the Czech Republic, Portugal and Wales will also take part.

"The Dublin Docklands are set to explode with color and sound in one of the largest-ever pyrotechnics and laser displays to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the popular Skyfest show along the River Liffey on March 18," says The Irish Post.

New York, home of many thousands of Irish immigrants and their descendants, celebrates St. Patrick's Day in a big way, typified by Judy Garland when she sang:
"It's a Great Day for the Irish,
It's a great day for the fair!
The sidewalks of New York are thick with blarney,
For sure you'd think New York was ol' Killarney!

"It's a great day for the shamrock,
For the flags in full array.
We're feeling so inspirish,
Sure because for all the Irish,
It's a Great, Great, DAY!"
©2007 OhmyNews
Other articles by reporter Eric Shackle

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