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IRoCK Island History

Critterville Cove Historical Society


 Critterville Cove Historical Society  

The Critterville Cove Historical Society is dedicated to the preservation and documentation of the history of the Island Republic of Critter Key (IRoCK). The Society is comprised of residents and descendants of past residents. We are located at the southern end of the Critterville Cove boardwalk and run tours 6 days a week from 10am til 4pm, closed on Sundays. The Society is always looking for new members, and asks for the public's help. Due to the infamous "Schubert's Folly"* of World War II , the Society is looking to replace lost records and photographs that will help fill in lost periods of our island's history. We ask all residents, past and present, to search their attics, talk to their grandparents and older relatives, and help us make certain that the proud history of the Island Republic of Critter Key is forever preserved for future generations.


* On a foggy October 13th, 1941, Kapitan Elrich Schubert of the German U-boat U-812, mistook the Critterville Cove Lighthouse for an Allied Force battleship, and fired 3 torpedoes at it, two of which destroyed the lighhouse. As the lighthouse was one of the only concrete buildings on the island and thus deemed safest from fire, all official records were stored there. During the week after Schubert's Folly, some documents and photographs came to be found upon the beach, but many years of history are still unaccounted for.


the ISLAND itself

The Island Republic of Critter Key (IRoCK) is 10 miles long and 3 miles wide. There are 2 towns on opposite ends of the island, Critterville Cove on the southwestern side, and Parrotsburg on the northern shore. Parrotsburg is more of a metropolitan center, with industry, larger schools, a Hospital, Rum distillery, and many of the other places you'd expect to see in any large town. The lands between the towns are known as the Highlands, location of vineyards which use the fertile soil and southern exposure to grow both grapes and hops locally to make world class wines and beer.


Critterville Cove on the other hand, is essentially a sleepy fishing village, with a few restaurants, bars, and various shops. The most prominent geographic feature at the northern end of Critterville Cove is Cape Poirot, known locally as Pirate Surf Bluff for its sheer cliff plunging into the ocean waves. It is named for Jean Luc Poirot, a French Capitaine who claimed to be a French Naval Officer but was later tried and hung as a pirate. Poirot and his expedition first visited these waters over three hundred years ago. The bluff begins in the calmer waters on the northwest shore of the cove and extends around northward on the west shores of the island. A few years ago, with an endowment from a mysterious unknown source*, an amphitheater was carved into the bluff along the cove. Seating is built into the bluff itself, while the stage is on the water's edge, making for memorable evening concerts featuring many international acts with beautiful sunsets and surfers on the waves in the background.


* rumored but never publicly confirmed to be a wealthy rock star and entrepreneur


From the Amphitheater, you can walk the beach thru town and to the marina on the southern point, which curls like a Shepherd’s Hook to provide safe harbor for ships in all kinds of weather. At the entrance to the marina is a ramp which the many seaplanes that bring fresh supplies from the mainland (and the occasional rock star) use to get to the airport that lies just beyond the marina. The airport is small, and cannot accommodate large commercial airlines, but using the seaplanes, one can connect to them on nearby islands.


The only motor vehicles on the island are a fleet of jeepneys operated by a Rastafarian family that ferries people from Critterville Cove to Parrotsburg where some people work, via CK-1 the main roadway which runs north-south along the length of the island. In the past few years, golf carts, once only seen at Critterville Cove Country Club, are now being used by the locals to get around. Both the carts and Jeepneys are personalized by bright colors, flags and other accessories. The only other mode of transportation is bicycles, and there is a bike shop in Critterville Cove which keeps them in running order.


With the larger schools and other metropolitan conveniences mostly located in Parrotsburg, the township of Critterville Cove has become more of a fishing and tourist community, with the population mostly made up of residents who make their living in trades, bars and shops catering to the tourist industry. That said, there is a child-like feel to the community, and a distinct love of life that brings people from all over the world to experience it over and over again. People are free to be themselves without a word, Paradise.




The island was discovered by a French Capitaine Jean Luc Poirot, who claimed to be a French Naval Officer but was later tried and hung as a pirate. He claimed the island as the Isle du Poirot, and its capital, where the local tribe lived, he named Poirotburg.

In 1939, Jean Luc Poirot's image was placed on the new IRoCK one dollar silver coin.



The island was inhabited by a tribe of Carib Indians who welcomed their new friends. The tribe were a very friendly and outgoing people, and were known for stopping work and throwing huge celebrations for almost any reason, something the French crew enjoyed very much during their stay.


The French Explorers left after only a few months when word came that the Spanish Navy were coming for them. According to Spanish records (the details are heavily disputed by the French), Poirot and his crew were responsible for commandeering 2 sloops filled with rum which was destined for Havana. After taking the rum and other of the ships’ cargo, Poirot’s pirates set the Spanish crewmen adrift in lifeboats and set their sloops afire.  
When Poirot left the Isle du Poirot, a few of his crew mutinied and hid on the far side of the island. These crew members continued to live on their side of the island and trade with the tribe. They married women from the tribe and had children. 

One of the crew was an Englishman who was literate and started a school for both their and the tribe's children. His name was Paul Crite'. While teaching the children English, names started to become Anglicized. What was once Poirotburg soon became known as Parrotsburg, and the local tribe that lived there started to be called "the parrot people" by those that lived on surrounding islands. The village that Crite' and the other mutineers created soon became known as Critterville and those that lived there became known as Critters.

Things on the island went well after the Poirot left. On the first Anniversary of him leaving, May 24, 1659, they celebrated. The mutineers brought out rum that was still hidden in a cave in the Highlands, and the locals brought food and music, and wore customary grass skirts and coconut bras. Wanting to impress their friends and having enjoyed too much rum, the Mutineers donned skirts and bras, much to the amazement of the tribe. Since then, coconut bras and grass skirts have become common for both men and women at all island celebrations.

It was also a custom of the tribe to put colorful feathers in front of their huts to let others know they were welcome to join them for festivities. People would make their way around the town looking for tail feathers, knowing that wherever the tail feathers were found, that identified the home as a gathering place for the festivities. As the town grew and more modern homes were built, the feathers were left on the gates in front of their homes, and soon the term "tailgating" was coined.




Undated photo, believed to be taken around 1897, shows an Island Republic of Critter Key official government post office in the township of Critterville Cove. The post office and general store were operated by Bubba Newes Crite, Jr., believed to be a direct descendent Paul Crite.




Island Republic of Critter Key Currency


In 1939, Capitaine Jean Luc Poirot's image was placed on the IRoCK one dollar silver coin. The reverse side shows the national symbol, the Blue Footed Boobie.

Also on the reverse side of the coin is the IRoCK National Motto, an Italian phrase "Fatti maschi, parole femmine", which has been translated as "Facts are male, words are female". It has also been translated as "Manly deeds, womanly words".

Why exactly this motto was chosen has unfortunately been lost to history.

Island Republic of Critter Key National Anthem and Flag



Let's all sail on down
'cause we're going to Critterville Cove
The surfing is real
And something to get stoked about
Critterville Cove forever

Beach life is easy as the sunrise knows
The surf and shore and open sea
It's getting hard to be beach bums
But it all works out
It doesn't matter much to me

Let's all sail on down
'cause we're going to Critterville Cove
The surfing is real
And something to get stoked about
Critterville Cove forever

No one I think is on my wave
I mean it must be high or low
That is you can't, you know, drop in
But it's all right
That is I think it's not too rad

Let's all sail on down
'cause we're going to Critterville Cove
The surfing is real
And something to get stoked about
Critterville Cove forever

Always no sometimes, think it's me
Dude you know I know it's just a dream
I think, er No, I mean, er Yes
But it's all wrong.
That is I think I disagree

Let's all sail on down
'cause we're going to Critterville Cove
The surfing is real
And something to get stoked about
Critterville Cove forever
Critterville Cove forever
Critterville Cove forever

lyrics by backstreets77 & surfpirate