Located in the Eastern Caribbean, Montserrat lies between Antigua to the North East and the French island of Guadeloupe to the South East. The island is 102 sq. kl and is best known for the volcano eruption in 1995 in the southern side of the island which caused two thirds of its 11,000 population to evacuate to the U.K. and other destinations. Today, two-thirds of the island is a designated exclusion zone, and the remaining one-third is home to 5,000 people who enjoy the rich verdant environment that the island is renowned for.
Christopher Columbus named the island Montserrat when, in 1493, he was the first European to discover it. To the indigenous people, the Caribs, the Island was known as Alliouagana -‘land of the prickly bush’. European settlement took place in 1632 when Irish Catholics were moved to the island by Sir Thomas Warner from nearby island of St. Kitts. They were joined by other Irish Catholics from Virginia, U.S.A., and deportees from Ireland later in the 17th century. During this period the percentage of Irish settlers was highest amongst the white inhabitants and double that of Africans slaves. By the early 18th century Africans outnumbered white population by 5:1. Today the names of the people and places in Montserrat are still predominantly Irish.