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In 2000, I visited 78-year-old bachelor Chris Watson, who spent his whole life as a fisherman.

The tropical sun had taken its toll on his fair skin, and his face was half destroyed by skin cancer left untreated for too long.

Today, the few hundred remaining Redlegs in Barbados, also known as the Baccra, a name they were given as they were only allowed to sit in the back row at church, stand out as anomalies in a predominantly black population, struggling for survival in a society that has no niche for them, looked down upon by both blacks and better-off whites.

Ann Banfield proudly shows me the photograph of her grand daughter’s graduation.

Illnesses and premature deaths caused by blood diseases such as haemophilia (probably as a result of inbreeding) and diabetes have had a devastating effect on the community.

When I first visited Erlene Downie in 2000, she had been living alone for 33 years, following the death of her husband from leukemia.

In 2008, I found Erlene, then 78 years old, still smiling, but living in even worse conditions.

They do not know much about Ireland except that some of their ancestors came from there.

Though one man I met, Wilson Norris, is passionate about Irish music and has a collection of CDs, these people are poor and their main concentration is on survival, not the past.

Ann worked in Bridgetown for many years including 13 years for Cave Sheppard, a large department store in town.

Making Contact There is a strong sense of community among the Redlegs.

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By the time Captain Joseph West’s ship arrived in the Caribbean in January 1637, eight of the 61 had died.

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