Grenada, St. Patrick, & the
[This article was researched and written by
Hughes who herself has a wee bit of Irish
Spanning slavery, war, education and the
Catholic Church, Grenada has an intimate association with
Ireland. One outstanding sign of this is the parish of St.
Patricks which carries the name of Ireland's patron
Patrick was captured and brought to
Ireland as a slave from Europe about the year 400AD. He
worked as a shepherd for some years, escaped and made it
back home across the sea. Later, when he became a Bishop, he
asked Rome to send him to Ireland to bring Christianity. He
arrived in 432 AD. There was a Celtic festival at the
beginning of Spring each year when the High King was the
first to light the dawn fire on the hill of Tara, seat of
the Kings. This established the power of the King. Patrick
was a remarkable stratagist and, in order to get an audience
with the King, decided he would light the first fire on the
hill facing Tara. The ruse worked and the King sent for this
audacious man. Patrick brought the Good News of Christianity
and the King and his Kingdom were converted without
Patrick's writings exist to this day and
his most famous hymn is called the Breastplate of St.
Patrick. The Seat of the Catholic Church is still at Armagh
where Patrick established it. He is portrayed in bishops
outfit carrying a staff and a Shamrock. The shamrock, which
is the national emblem, is a native three leaf plant which
Patrick is alleged to have picked and displayed to
demonstrate the Trinity---three in one.!
In the 1600's, the dispossessed of
Ireland presented a problem.Their lands had been taken away
by the English. They were rebellious. One solution was found
in carting them off to the sugar plantations of the
Caribbean. So began the process of forced emigration. In the
Treaty of Galway document, 1660, it is amazing to learn that
one quarter of the city was sent to Barbados."Barbadoing"
was a dreaded word. It meant than any hapless person found
wandering about would be picked up and sent to the
WestIndies. These captives were found to be useless at
cutting cane under tropic sun due to the tenderness of their
skin---and so became known as "Red Legs"
In 1779 the next significant group of
Irish arrived in Grenada. It was the military contingent
called the Irish Brigade under Count Arthur Dillon and his
brother Edward. The Irish Brigade known as "The Wild Geese"
were the leaders and their followers who left Ireland after
the Plantation of 1601 to form armies in Europe to fight the
English. These fearless soldiers arrived in Grenada with
D'Estaing as part of the French Army. After a brillant
manoevre by the invaders, the English surrendered without a
fight and the town of St. Georges was handed to the Irish
troops for looting. It is said that the Irish behaved in an
exemplary fashion due to their own personal experience at
home. It is interesting to note that families of D'Estaing
and Dillon are well and alive today---direct descendants
became Prime Ministers of France and Ireland respectively in
The number of Irish wandering the earth
increased dramatically in the 19th Century due to the Great
Famine---the last famine in Europe---when 4 million Irish
died or emigrated across the English speaking world. The
numbers of these to arrive in Grenada were legion: O'Neal,
O'Halloran, O'Brien, O'Reilly, O'Sullivan, Murphy, McCann,
McGuire, McSweeney,McCarthy, McCabe, Quinn and of course,
Grenada's own Galway Donovan, mentor of national hero, Teddy
In 1827, the first Irish priest arrived
in Grenada, a Fr. O'Callaghan. He was followed by Fr.
Anthony O Hannan, who caused a rift in the Catholic Church
in St.Georges and set up his own church for six years at the
building in Lucas Street, still known today as La
The last formal group to arrive were the
Irish educators. Kiltegan Fathers, Presentation Brothers and
Sisters of Cluny who have done enormous work serving the
families of Grenada in the schools and churches.
Trade between Cork and the Westindies has
been lucrative for 300 years---beef and butter for the
Westindies, rum for Cork and Dublin. And who would be
without a glass of Guinness, Ireland's own. There's "atin'
and drinkin'" in it as they say. The Guinness logo of the
Harp which you see travelling around Grenada on the delivery
van, is also the official stamp of the Irish
So, with our Grenadian friends, we
celebrate that strategist, St. Patrick, on March 17th.
Horseracing being the favourite way to spend the day in
Ireland, we in Grenada, will lift our glasses and
say"Slainte" (health) as we think of the Green Isle across
Repeating our mantra about "Grenada's Story:"
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resources available to the people of Grenada. Give us
feedback on what you find here---AND on what you WANT to
find by sending us an e-mail (click
HERE), or call (473) 440-2538, or WRITE to us at
Post Office Box 65, St. George's, GRENADA.