Tag Archives: Barbados Red Legs

Reader asks for assistance in planning a Barbados Red Legs tour

Barbados Red Legs

Dear Barbados Free Press

I will be coming to Barbados in February, 2015. I’ve always wanted to visit as I have an interest in the Red Leg people and the history of the Irish who were sent to Barbados by Oliver Cromwell.  I hope to take back a tour group with me in 2016 to show them the island with particular emphasis on its Irish history. I’m wondering if there are any locations that I could visit that might have some connection with this history and with the descendants of the Red Legs.

(Name withheld by editor)

AN ESTIMATED 50,000 “white slaves” were transported from Ireland to Barbados between 1652 and 1657. Having succeeded in recruiting Irish men to die in the services of France, Spain, Poland and Italy, Cromwell turned his attention to others – men and women press-ganged by soldiers, taken to Cork and shipped to Bristol where they were sold as slaves and transported to Barbados.

… see BFP’s article Irish Times: Most Barbados Red Legs have bad or no teeth.

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Barbados Red Legs flag – A symbol of cultural affirmation

Barbados Red Legs Flag

Barbados Red-Legs can now boast their own cultural flag

“I know as an outsider, no symbology can be foisted onto another culture;

yet my humble offering might spark the imagination of someone who is from there, and inspire some movement toward cultural affirmation.”

contributed by Three-fold Now

The Red Legs are a cultural community in the Caribbean island of Barbados. They are descendants of Irish and Scottish indentured servants—some forcibly enslaved by Cromwell—and remain as “poor whites” in what is otherwise a predominantly Afro-Caribbean nation. The performer Rihanna claims some family ties to this Irish-Barbadian lineage.  Continue reading

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Irish Times: Most Barbados Red Legs have bad or no teeth. Many blind, without limbs.

I’ll leave the discussion on this one to our readers!

Excerpts from the Irish Times article Remnants of an indentured people

“In 1636 a ship sailed out of Kinsale bound for Barbados. Its cargo? Sixty-one Irish people destined to join thousands of others as indentured servants. Photographer SHEENA JOLLEY met their descendents, the Red Legs, who still live there today.

AN ESTIMATED 50,000 “white slaves” were transported from Ireland to Barbados between 1652 and 1657. Having succeeded in recruiting Irish men to die in the services of France, Spain, Poland and Italy, Cromwell turned his attention to others – men and women press-ganged by soldiers, taken to Cork and shipped to Bristol where they were sold as slaves and transported to Barbados. (snip)

Today, most Red Legs have bad or no teeth due to poor diet and lack of dental care. Illnesses and premature deaths due to haemophilia and diabetes have left men blind and without limbs.

They are no longer plagued by the old diseases of hookworm, typhoid, and cholera, but school absenteeism, poor health, the ill effects of inter-family marriage, large families, little ownership of land and lack of job opportunities have locked those remaining on the island into a poverty trap. Even today the Red Legs still stand out as anomalies and are hard pressed for survival in a society that has no niche for them.”

The Peter Simmons Solution to black prejudice against Red Legs: Wipe out the race through intermarriage with black Bajans

Peter Simmons

Peter Simmons, in a report for the ministry of education in Barbados, suggested that a solution to the poverty and stigma of being a Red Leg is better education and intermarriage with the middle class blacks. He wrote: “Born with a brown skin and armed with a basic education, these children shall never know what it really means to be a Red Leg.”

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Filed under Barbados, Culture & Race Issues, History, Human Rights, Race, Slavery