Premier David Burt celebrated Portugal Day with members of the Portuguese community at the Vasco da Gama Club on Reid Street in Hamilton this weekend.

The Premier was welcomed by Club President Paul Franco (photographed shaking hands) and others for the celebration, who joined with His Excellency the Governor John Rankin; and (from left), Minister of Social Development & Sport, Michael Weeks, the Portuguese Priest of St Theresa’s Roman Catholic Cathedral, Father Julio Blazejewski; Deputy Premier and Minister of Transport and Regulatory Affair, Walter Roban; and, (right) Opposition Leader Jeanne Atherden.

Addressing those gathered, on the day before Portugal Day or the Day of Portugal, Mr Burt said: “One only needs to peruse the historical accounts of Bermuda business or look back over the records of Parliament to see how much the entire island has benefitted from the long history of our association.

“But surprisingly, it took four centuries for one group of important figures in Bermuda’s history to be recognized as Portuguese.
“For 400 years, Bermudians incorrectly referred to an area of Spittal Pond Nature Reserve in Smith’s Parish as Spanish Rock.
“The letters ‘R’ and ‘P’ – dated 1543 – are engraved in the rock which is believed to be the earliest remnant of human recording found in Bermuda. 
“The markings were noted by Bermuda’s first English colonists who decided they were made by Spanish shipwrecked sailors.
“As a result, it was long known as ‘Spanish Rock’. 
“But a Portuguese historian had evidence from a chronicled voyage that Portuguese sailors were actually shipwrecked here and he said the letters ‘R’ and ‘P’ were Latin for ‘Regium Portuguese’  or Kingdom of Portugal. 
“So finally in this century, after so many years, the site is referred to more accurately as ‘Portuguese Rock’.
“It makes you wonder about ‘Spanish Point, said Premier Burt.
With regard to next year’s public holiday, he said the Government “deliberately provided advance notice to allow for the planning of a series of related events”.
“We are hopeful of arranging an official visit to Bermuda of a Government delegation from the Azores and/or Madeira, and perhaps a sporting event involving a visiting team.
“We will also consider a commemorative plaque, and other events,” he said.
“Bermuda is made up of people from a variety of diverse backgrounds who have contributed to our growth and mutual success.
“My Government is excited to highlight and celebrate ‘What We Share’ as a community.”
  • Feature Photo Courtesy of DCI