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Fay Pickersgill launches book on Falmouth

BY VERNON DAVIDSON Executive editor — publications davidsonv@jamaicaobserver.com

Tuesday, December 17, 2013    

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THE custos of Trelawny, Paul Muschett, proposed making Fay Pickersgill's book on Falmouth required reading for schools in that parish. But former Prime Minister PJ Patterson took the suggestion even further, advocating that it be made recommended reading for students of Jamaican and Caribbean history.

Why?

"Because it contains a wealth of information about Falmouth, Jamaica and the triangular slave trade," Patterson explained in his keynote address at the book launch last Wednesday at the Jamaica Pegasus Hotel in New Kingston.

"In a succinct presentation, Fay Pickersgill reveals the role of Rev William Knibb and Sam Sharpe in the struggle for the abolition of slavery," Patterson said of Pickersgill's Jamaica's Fascinating Falmouth.

"The importance of such well-researched publications cannot be overemphasised," Patterson added. "They expand our pool of knowledge and deepen our appreciation of our history, culture and heritage -- the essential elements of our national identity."

Discussing what he described as the "intriguing dimensions" of the 94-page glossy paperback, Patterson said it reflects a passion that goes beyond the historical significance of Falmouth, a town, he noted, that had running water before New York City in the USA.

"It is a fascinating and picturesque tale from the earliest years of Martha Brae, the main seaport of Trelawny, through the period of unrivalled prosperity, to the creation of today's innovative cruise ship port that can now provide the technical services and facilities which discriminating passengers demand -- restaurants, cafés, shops, craft markets and professional offices," the former prime minister said.

"It also resonates with affection for a special nation -- Jamaica, the land and her people," he added.

"The book," he said, "is not meant to be a scholarly treatise, but a handy compilation of historical highlights, including the foundation of the town, places to go, things to see and insights into the past.

Custos Muschett, in his remarks, said that the book highlights the town's history and the importance of its heritage.

"This book explains clearly the important aspects of the [town's] history and why the cruise ship port was built in Falmouth," Muschett said.

"Persons in Trelawny need to understand the importance of our buildings and the interest visitors have in the history that is ours," he added.

Pickersgill, a former director of tourism who after leaving that post was appointed project manager for the development of the Historic Falmouth Cruise Port, thanked the many persons who turned out to the launch.

She also elicited much laughter when she revealed that she never intended to write a book.

"It was never, ever my intent, that at any point in time I would be called an author, Pickersgill said.

She reflected on the beauty of the town that she fell in love with as a little girl living in Jackson Town, Trelawny.

Pickersgill also had her guests in stitches when she related how the ladies of the day, attending balls, would sew peenie wallies (fireflies) into their gowns "because that was the precursor to sequins".

She also triggered another round of laughter when she told the audience that Water Square in Falmouth "is really not a square, it is a triangle, but that's because the layout of the town was developed by different persons and the grids didn't quite meet".

Pickersgill, though, said she was moved to produce the book after taking up the cruise port project job and discovering, while speaking to persons in Falmouth, that they did not know much about the town's history.

"To me it was very, very sad," she said. "But everyone was so eager to learn; they were so fascinated with the stuff I was talking about. That's when I realised that there needed to be some kind of documentation which would help people to appreciate what it is; for people to learn about it, because I honestly feel that if people have knowledge, then they can appreciate, and if they can appreciate, then they can take the responsibility which goes with that appreciation."

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