Welcome to Sligoville: The story of the Irish in Jamaica

Cromwell sent many Irish to Jamaica in the 1600s. The emigration continued for more than 200 years

King Street
King Street in Kingston, Jamaica, circa 1800. (Photo by Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

King Street in Kingston, Jamaica, circa 1800. (Photo by Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

In the mid-1990s I attended a St Patrick’s Day party in Israel where most of us were Scottish, Welsh and Irish. A man from Jamaica joined our crew. He sang along to the Irish songs and even had his own version of the song, The Wearing of the Green. I assumed the Jamaican liked Irish folk music or had spent some time in Ireland. He told me he’d never been to Ireland. However, he identified his heritage as Irish.

Most of us born in Ireland pre-1990 will have attended a Catholic school, sat beside a white Irish child, taken a white boy or girl to our debs and had little to no interaction with people other than Irish, Catholic and white. As a “blow-in” to the rural town I was as foreign as it got.

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