Monday, September 29, 2008

Montserrat immigrants thriving in Boston

While other Caribbean countries such as Jamaica, the Dominican Republic, and H

aiti are more widely known and have significantly larger communities in the United States, Montserrat is a relative unknown and has just a few thousand of its native sons and daughters living in Boston, sprinkled anonymously in Roxbury, Mattapan, and Dorchester.

"We're just a little island, and nobody seems to know about us," said Jean Lee, 56.

But they have found a larger, and seemingly unlikely, immigrant group with which they share a historic bond, the Irish.

A group of Irish settled on the island in the early 1600s, and Thomas Keown, spokesman for the Irish Immigration Center of Boston, said the Irish influence is strong.

"There are plenty of folks to this day with Irish last names and a bit of an Irish twang," Keown said.

Montserrat, a British overseas territory, is the only country outside of Ireland that recognizes St. Patrick's Day as a national holiday, he said.

"In Montserrat, the celebration lasts for a week," he said.