It's St. Patty's Day, Let's Go to the Beach
Today's the day when the world seems to focus on all things Irish. Over on the Emerald Isle, the beer flows during this unique public holiday, but Ireland can be kind of a dreary place in mid-March. What if we told you you could celebrate this public holiday on the beach, sipping your Guinness from the comfort of a beach lounger, maybe with a little paper umbrella in the top and no one would question you?
The tiny British isle of Montserrat sits between St. Nevis and Guadeloupe in the Caribbean Sea. The Emerald Isle of the south is the only place outside Ireland where St. Patrick's Day is recognized as a public holiday. And today it's 31°C there.
The British took control of the island in 1632 when a group of Irish settlers arrived. As was common in the Caribbean islands, settlers began importing slaves from Africa. On March 17, 1798 a failed slave uprising is today commemorated through the marking of St. Patrick's Day as a public holiday. Slavery was abolished on the island in 1834.
Recent years were just as tumultuous as the island fell victim to more natural forces. In 1989 Hurricane Hugo swept over the island, damaging 90% of its buildings. In 1995, the island's volcano, Soufrière Hills, snapped out of a 300-year dormancy and erupted, leaving the southern part of the island uninhabitable and destroying the capital city, Plymouth. The volcano remains active, though relatively quiet, today and is one of the most closely monitored volcanoes in the world.
The island's government has re-established itself in Brades on the northwest coast, and the tourism industry is slowly getting back on its feet. The
The island's first hostel, HI-Salem, Hot Rock Hostel opened in 2006 with dorm accommodation from $25 a night. The small village of Salem is near the Montserrat Volcano Observatory.