The only country outside of Ireland that celebrates ST. Patrick’s Day as a national holiday is the petite isle of Montserrat in the midst of the Eastern Caribbean. The British Overseas Territory’s flag is emblazoned with the Irish Harp and the words Erin, with an obligatory Union Jack in a corner. Pass through customs and your passport is stamped with a green Irish Clover. Today, common surnames on Montserrat include Bodkin, Browne, Blake, Meade, O’Gara, Darcy, Ryan, Dean, French, Joyce, Kerwin, Sweeney, Riley, Driscoll, Castle, Lynch, Martin, Morrison, and Skerritt. Numerous island geographic locales pay homage to the motherland such as Cork Hill, potato Hill, Roche’s Mountain, Sweeney’s Well, Kinsale and Delvins and long vanished Irish sugar plantations are remembered as Farrell, Riley, Dyer, Molyneux, and Lee.
How Did the Irish Get There?
Emigration from Ireland to the lush green Caribbean commenced in earnest on the heels of the defeat at the Battle of Kinsale near Cork in 1601. Thousands of disgruntled and disenfranchised Irish Catholics packed their bags in hopes of a better life in the Caribbean where they set up shop as planters, For many it was brutal indentured servitude on St. Kitts and other Caribbean islands for 5 to 7 years work in exchange for their ultimate freedom and the hope of someday becoming landholders. The next rush of Irish Catholic emigrants arrived under duress. They were unwilling deportees, transported following Oliver Cromwell’s genocidal invasion of Ireland in 1648 and subsequently even more under Cromwell’s son’s watch. Departing from Cork and Kerry to Wexford and Galway, Clare and Donegal to Tipperary, Waterford, Drogheda, and Westmeath. Some were literal slaves while other toiled as indentured servants.
Eventually clashes with the ant-Popish Cromwellian influenced British Colonial power structure on St. Kitts, Nevis and other Caribbean Crown colonies led many free Irish to migrate to Montserrat in hopes of opportunity and religious freedom. By the mid-seventeen hundreds, Montserrat census records listed more than 1,500 Irish, 700 English, 52 Scotts, and 1,000 West African slaves. Many eventually became successful planters and eventually became slaveholders themselves. Not coincidentally, the only slave revolt recorded on the island was planned for St.Patrick’s Day, as the slaves were confident their overlords would be three sheets to the wind from too much Guinness. It almost worked but some one snitched off the plot. Through intermarriage, and mass baptisms of slaves given their Irish master’s last name en masse proliferated Irish Surnames on the island.
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Watch the RTE television feature on the Black Irish of Montserrat:
The island of Montserrat in the Eastern Caribbean, about the same size as the county of San Francisco, is in the midst of rebirthing itself—an entirely brand new town, is in the initial stages of rising from the earth.
How the deftly designed, beachside new town, on the island’s north shore, came about, is the direct result of the dramatic and devastating volcanic eruption of the Soufrière Hills in 1995. Repeated pyroclastic flows eventually buried the historic capital town of Plymouth under mountains of ash in 1997. The entire south end was abandoned and Islanders relocated to the northern half of the island that is protected from future eruptions by the ancient Center Hills mountain chain.
The Montserrat Development Corporation has created a brilliant master plan to ensure that the Phoenix like rebirth of Montserrat incorporates ecologically sensitive, environmentally sustainable concepts in all aspects of its architectural master plan—but just as important, or maybe more so, is its parallel quest to ensure the island’s unspoiled, tropical paradise remains as an essential ingredient—an irreplaceable, delicate touchstone. The Montserratians government intimately understands that the essence of the island’s allure is its unspoiled tropical rainforests, its alluring black sand beaches, some stretching for a mile or more, and its azure waters teaming with coral reefs and marine life. Coral Cays, an international conservation organization has been retained and has been working intensely for more than a year, doing exhaustive terrestrial and maritime environmental surveys. They are developing sustainable management plans, but most importantly Coral Cay is teaching and empowering the island’s student population to become stewards and ambassadors of their incredibly pristine and yet fragile ecological wonderland—that is and will remain as essential draws for vacationing hikers, birders, scuba divers and those who just love basking in an unspoiled rainforest paradise. We’ll visit Coral Cay’s headquarters for a chat with Field Base Manager, Kenny McDonald, and Sean Daniel, Project Scientist.
Afterwards we’ll trek up to the Montserrat Volcanic Observatory and meet with research scientist and volcanologist, Dr. Adam Stinson. And then David Crichton with Montserrat Development Corporation shares the back-story on the Soufrière Hills Volcano… and takes is on a walk through the ash covered abandoned town of Plymouth. At the moment, plans are being finalized to offer regularly scheduled hikes through Montserrat’s Modern Day Pompeii.
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Montserrat is a relatively undiscovered isle in the midst of the Eastern Caribbean neighboring Nevis, Martinique, St. Kitts and Antigua. Actually it’s its not quite undiscovered—back in the 1960s the island became a trendy place for discerning, and wealthy families such as the Mars candy bar and JC Penny heirs who established hideaway villas discretely tucked on lush tropical hillsides.
And it was Sir George Martin, a London based music producer, dubbed the fifth Beatle, who established his Air Studios recording facility on the flanks of a mountainside in 1977. In short order, it was a common site on the island to spot rock legends such as Paul McCartney, Luther Van Dross, Eric Clapton, the Rolling Stones, Stevie Wonder, Elton John, Black Sabbath, Sting, Michael Jackson, The Police, Dire Straits, and many more who came to record, and hang out in Montserrat pubs, walk the beaches and just hang out undisturbed.
The Studios were the initial draw, but the musicians fell in love with the unfettered isle as Montserrat was a rare and refreshing experience for the rockers as the locals never made a fuss over them. Hurricane Hugo destroyed Air Studios in 1989, but today, fortunately those same, rarely found qualities remain intact.
Around the world, its often a destination’s drop dead gorgeous lush tropical scenery that’s the initial draw But it’s inevitably the people who etch the fondest memories and the temptation to return, sooner than later for reprise visit.
Come along and join me on Montserrat as we meet and visit with three of the many most charming and hospitable residents. Cedric Osborne, a seventh generation Montserratian, along with his wife Carol, are proprietors of the historic Olveston House Restaurant and inn. Picture the Manor house in the movie Out of Africa and you’ll have a fitting visual image of Olveston. Intriguingly, Olveston House is owned by the legendary Sir George Martin of Air Studios/Beatles fame.
We’ll then stop in at Watermelon Cottage bed & breakfast and restaurant, owned by consummate world-traveler, Trevor Stevens. Trevor spent decades working for Seabourn cruise lines and during his tenure made more than 12 around the world cruises—already established on the island of Bali, Stevens made an unplanned visit to Montserrat more than 35 years ago—and it was not only love at first sight—he immediately purchased a villa and he’s called the island home ever since.
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Sunset Magazine and Visit San Luis Obispo County host the annual Savor the Central Coast–with four days of cool culinary events (September 25th through 28th).
The kickoff event will be held at legendary Hearst Castle. Come along and join artisan foodie participants. We’ll visit with Lynette Sonne, visionary behind FarmsteadEd www.FARMsteadED.com Curt and Martha Van Inwegen, owners of TheraBee culinary Honey www.therabeehoney.com and Sophie Boban-Doering, proprietor of Fromagerie Sophie on Garden Street in San Luis Obsispo, California www.fromageriesophie.com
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Montserrat, a small island in the Eastern Caribbean not far from Antigua, is reinventing and re-birthing itself as a distinctive island embodying all of the exotic allures of an unspoiled tropical paradise…There’s a total absence of all-inclusive mega resorts, but a wealth of nature adventures such as rainforest hikes, birding, kayaking, and scuba diving. Another enticing attribute is the innocence and friendliness of the islanders.
Crime is so rare that the local jail has to rent out their empty cells to other Caribbean islands. This is a place where people rarely lock their homes and they regularly leave their keys in their cars.
The one two punch of Hurricane Hugo in ‘89 followed by the devastating Soufriere volcanic eruption on the south end of the island back in the mid 1990s ultimately buried the historic town of Plymouth under mountains of ash, led the islanders to reinvent and rebirth the island. Montserrat is tenaciously rebirthing itself. A new town center is on the cusp of being built on the north end of the island, along with a modern port and yacht center. Come along and join me on Montserrat for a conversation with Ayiesha de Coteau Sammy Director of Trade and Investment Promotion, and David Crichton, Development Consultant at Montserrat Development Corporation’s offices as we discover the many unquantifiable allures that make the island a truly unique and seductive prospect for the savvy investor who’s looking for that rarely found, off the beaten path slice of paradise. For further information about Montserrat: www.investmontserrat.com
Listen to the in-depth interview on the Lowell Thomas Award winning travel show, Journeys of Discovery with Tom Wilmer, a weekly-featured Podcast on NPR.ORG. Check out this episode!
Situated in the heart of the Eastern Caribbean, the tropical paradise of Montserrat, a British overseas territory island, 10 miles wide, by 7 miles long, with Antigua just 30 miles away. A visit to Montserrat is truly unique Caribbean experience—it’s like stepping back in time—to a long vanished era of Caribbean life in the 1920s or 30s when people didn’t lock their doors, when crime was an anomaly, and gated, guarded mega resort destinations such as Sandals were not even imaginable. The island was dealt a one-two punch when Hurricane Hugo thrashed the island back in 1989, and followed in 1995 when Montserrat’s Soufriere Volcano erupted. The subsequent pyroclastic flow buried the historic town center of Plymouth.
The town and the entire southern half of the island was abandoned, But today the island is in the midst of an amazing rebirth and renaissance.
An entirely new town on the northern end of the island has been laid out. Bulldozers are leveling ground for the new town center on the north end of the island with the centerpiece– a waterfront resort hotel complex, hillside condominium and townhouse complexes, a state of the art protected port, and yachting center. This enchanting island’s rebirth includes harnessing the volcanoes geothermal vents for power generation, cultural tours to it’s modern day Pompeii town of Plymouth, treks to the Scientific Volcanic Observatory high perched on a mountainside, rain forest hikes, birding adventures, scuba diving, kayaking and other nature oriented adventures.
Join Correspondent, Tom Wilmer on the lush tropical isle of Montserrat for a journey of discovery as we visit with Ayiesha de Coteau Sammy Director of Trade and Investment Promotion, David Crichton, economic development consultant, and Ivan Browne Chief Executive of the Montserrat Development Corporation, and the Honorable Reuben T. Meade, Premier of Montserrat.
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Kimberli Samuel talks with correspondent, Tom Wilmer about Car Free Los Angeles– The car is no longer king in L.A. With over 120 miles of new bike ways created within the city of Los Angeles in the last two years, increased Metro transit options and the expanded frequency and reach of CicLAvia—the nation’s largest open streets event—the city is putting the brakes on its car-centric roots.
Listen to the interview on the Lowell Thomas Award winning travel show, Journeys of Discovery with Tom Wilmer, a weekly featured podcast on NPR.ORG
Author and writing seminar expert Laura Deutsch talks about her new book, Writing from the Senses-59 Exercises to Ignite and Revitalize Your Writing—Shambala Press. Audio interview on Journeys of Discovery with Tom Wilmer weekly podcast on NPR.ORG
Join the conversation on the Lowell Thomas Award Winning podcast, “Journeys of Discovery with Tom Wilmer” featured weekly on NPR.ORG and produced by Central California Coast NPR affiliate station KCBX.
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In 2008, Outward Bound launched its first West Coast urban-based “Center” in San Francisco (“Bay Area Center”) following the successful establishment of other Centers in Atlanta, Baltimore, Boston, New York and Philadelphia in the 1980s and 1990s. Urban-based Centers reach more underserved urban youth populations through a menu of programs that promote personal transformation using the natural and historical settings of cities and their surrounding areas. Join correspondent, Molly Blaisdell in San Francisco as she interviews Outward Bound California Executive Director, Josh Brankman; faculty member, Lawence Schuessler; Student Services Associate, Marcela Maldonado; and Operations and Program Director, Aiko Yoshino.
Outward Bound was founded in 1941 during World War II to provide young sailors with the experiences and skills necessary to survive at sea. Outward Bound was a joint effort between British shipping magnate Sir Lawrence Holt and progressive German educator Kurt Hahn. Hahn believed education must encompass both the intellect and character of a person. In creating the first Outward Bound School, he expanded the concept of experiential learning to include real and powerful experience to gain self-esteem, the discovery of innate abilities, and a sense of responsibility toward others. Outward Bound has since become the premier adventure-based education program in the world. In the early 1950s, Josh Miner founded the Outward Bound movement in the United States, and in the ensuing decade, Outward Bound pioneered wilderness experiential learning with the establishment of the Colorado Outward Bound School in 1961. Outward Bound’s curriculum established the standard for outdoor education: adventure, challenge, character development, compassion and social and environmental responsibility. In 1991, Outward Bound established the Pinnacle Scholarship Program to increase student diversity and provide opportunities for highly motivated and low income students to enroll in Outward Bound courses. California leaders, investors and nonprofit partners pioneered the program, which is now offered nationwide.
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For further information:
Outward Bound California 1539 Pershing Drive, San Francisco, CA 94129 (415) 933-6222
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H6pmL9HtIOU – See the impact for yourself!
Join correspondent Tom Wilmer as he visits with acclaimed travel journalist, Laurie McAndish King as she talks about her new book, Lost, Kidnapped, Eaten Alive and reads some selected passages.
Laurie McAndish King is an award-winning writer and photographer specializing in nature and culture. Her work has appeared in Smithsonian magazine, the San Francisco Chronicle, and literary anthologies from Lonely Planet and Travelers’ Tales. Whether she is lost in a parallel universe, kidnapped in the scorching Tunisian desert, or eaten alive by the blood-sucking denizens of tropical north Queensland, King’s stories—poignant, quirky, and often quite funny—are always inspiring and entertaining. Her new collection of true travel tales, Lost, Kidnapped, Eaten Alive, is available from Amazon and your local bookstore.
Listen to King’s interview on Journeys of Discovery with Tom Wilmer, the Lowell Thomas Award winning podcast featured weekly on NPR.ORG. Check out this episode!