House pays tribute to Kirby
September 16, 2005

House pays tribute to Kirby

Tribute by the Hon. Rene Baptiste paid in the House of Assembly on Wed. September 7, 2005.

Mr. Speaker, Honourable Members, it is with deep sadness that I rise in this Honourable House to pay tribute to the life and work of a great son of the soil, Dr. Earle Kirby.

Ian Ayrton Earle Kirby OBE was born in 1921. He was regarded as one of the greatest national treasures of St. Vincent and the Grenadines. He resided in Edinboro in a property that overlooks the city, and a panoramic view of the ocean. Doc Kirby as he was affectionately called obtained his first degree from the Imperial College of Tropical Agriculture in Trinidad. {{more}}Upon graduation he became a research officer here in the Ministry of Agriculture at the Experiment Station. At that time he became instrumental in removing the most prevalent plant pest, the gru-gru palm. His interest in animals took him abroad to the vet college in Guelph, Ontario, he graduated with distinctions in every subject and we have learnt the record has not yet been equalled. He returned as a doctor of veterinary medicine, a veterinary surgeon, the first Vincentian vet.

He further obtained a doctorate in tropical veterinary medicine from the University of Edinburgh, in Scotland. He combined this passion for the land, plants, with that of his love for animals, I think even a few good humans consulted him from time to time.

In addition to his profession, he served as President of the Civil Service Association as it was then known and founded an even greater interest in geology, geography, biology, and he was a science advisor to the Cambridge Examinations, he was also an engineer of sorts, a local volcanologist and a self taught historian, also an archaeologist of significant note. He chaired the International Congress of Caribbean Archaeology in 1977 and 1979 and was responsible for pioneering works in Vincentian archaeology.

His book entitled “Pre Columbian Monuments In Stone” published in 1969 by the St. Vincent Archaeology and Historical Society of that day catalogues and describes the numerous petroglyphs and stone works left behind by our ancestors. He had an overwhelming passion for our great mountain, La Soufriere. He said to someone, and I quote, “I am a volcano observer, used to be up there all the time, in 1946 it started to act up, last eruption was in 1979, all the rocks, the source of it all, these things fascinate me.” He started the archaeological museum of pre Columbian artifacts in the Curator’s Lodge at the Botanic Gardens. That museum was left to decay. When I assumed the Ministry of Tourism and Culture, we removed the artifacts after we discovered they were not secured and had been fortunate in getting the young children to do a fresh cataloguing of those artifacts which he had handed over to us. He was a significant scholar in archaeology in St. Vincent. He was well respected throughout the region and indeed internationally on all these matters affecting our history and heritage.

Dr. Kirby was honoured by the National Trust in 2003. He was a gentleman who freely gave information and the depth of his learning to any young scholar who so desired to speak with him and speak he would love to do whenever you give him the opportunity to be in his company. He shared right up until his death. Left to mourn are his wife, and two children. May God rest his soul. We want to thank him and thank God for giving us such a great son of the soil, such a magnificent individual, and a true lover of all the earth. May he rest in peace.