March 14, 2004 – Here it comes: the "Wearin' of the Green." With the islands' generous geographical inclusion of holidays from elsewhere, it's no surprise that St. Thomas annually celebrates St. Patrick's Day.
This year's St. Thomas parade will start on March 17 at 1 p.m. at American Yacht Harbor. Honoring Frank Brittingham, for seven years owner of Molly Molone's restaurant, the parade will proceed to march for seven laps around the area. Cletus McBride, a parade organizer, predicts that each lap will find fewer marchers and the handy pub will find more thirsty celebrants.
The parade is a culminating event of an ongoing warm-up celebration of the Irish, Ireland and the Green. One of the events is a "Toast off," sponsored by Guinness. On Sunday, the presenter of the best toast will be named champion — and the prize is an open bar tab for all of St. Patrick's Day.
Throughout the day, there'll be entertainment by Donna Lange, Hurricane Bob, Dr. Sean O'Neill of Belfast, and dancers from the Timoney School. Many paraders will be in costume, and all participants and onlookers are urged to wear the Green.
Continuing the international theme, a native of Montserrat who has lived in Denmark and now resides in the Virgin Islands has been chosen as grand marshal for the parade: Dr. Eddie Donoghue. It's fitting, as the Irish have a long history of connection with Montserrat, known as the "Emerald Isle of the Caribbean."
"I was surprised and greatly humbled to be selected by my fellow Irish men and women," Donoghue said, in a release. To the best of his knowledge, it is the first time an individual has been chosen as parade grand marshal two years in succession.
"I am not only glad to be interacting with my Irish brothers and sisters ," he said, "but I anticipate being able to encourage many of them to visit our island [of Montserrat] during the cultural events planned for next year to commemorate the tenth anniversary of the tragic volcano eruption."
Although Irish colonial dominance in Montserrat was early, starting in 1630 and peaking in 1730, the dominance of Irish place-names and surnames continues to this day. Of the 10 most common surnames in the telephone book, seven (Ryan, Lee, Daley, Meade, Tuitt, Fenton, and Farrell) are undoubtedly Irish; two more (Allen, White) could easily be; and only Greenaway remains as unambiguously English, according to a historian with the unlikely name of T. Savage English, quoted in "If the Irish Ran the World," by Donald Akenson. Despite the volcano turning portions of the island to gray and brown, much of Montserrat is still the "Emerald Isle."
And many Montserratians and Irishmen who reside in the Virgin Islands are happy to share this portion of their heritage on St. Patrick's Day.
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