MISSOULA – The Irish Studies Program at the University of Montana, along with the Friends of Irish Studies and the Ancient Order of Hibernians, have joined forces to create a full slate of events in the coming weeks to honor and commemorate St. Patrick, the patron saint of Ireland.
From music to film, from sport to the annual parade, this year’s program is designed to cater to all tastes.
“All of us, Irish or not, get swept up in the joy of St. Patrick’s Day,” said Traolach O’Riordain, director of UM’s Irish Studies Program. “Here in Montana, we have always been very creative when it comes to celebrating the occasion and the great contribution the Irish have made to our state. This year will be no different.”
The biggest event, the St. Patrick’s Day Parade, is set for noon Saturday, March 14, in downtown Missoula. Dr. Dan Combo is this year’s grand marshal.
Another highlight is a hurling match at 2:30 p.m. at Washington-Grizzly Stadium, featuring the national champion Montana Grizzlies hurling squad.
“If you have never seen hurling, go watch this game,” O’Riodain said. “The excitement will take the March chill out of your bones a lot faster than an Irish whiskey.”
A schedule of events follows:
- March 6-7 – Irish Fiddle Concert. Fiddle maestro James Kelly plays the Montana Tech Library Auditorium in Butte on Friday, March 6, and the UM Recital Hall in Missoula on Saturday, March 7. Both concerts begin at 7:30 p.m. Tickets cost $15 at the door or $10 for students and Friends of Irish Studies, and are available in Butte at Cavavnaugh’s County Celtic, in Missoula at Rockin’ Rudy’s or online at http://www.friendsofirishstudies.com/.
- March 10 – St. Patrick Lecture. Traolach O’Riordain will deliver a free public lecture at 7 p.m. at St. Anthony’s Parish Life Center, 217 Tremont St. Learn all about Ireland’s greatest saint.
- March 12 – Irish Film Night. The Roxy Theater, 718 S. Higgins Ave., will host the second annual Irish Film Night. The first film, “Song of the Sea,” begins at 5:15 p.m. It is a family-friendly, Academy Award-nominated animated film that draws its story from Irish mythology. The second presentation is “Scéal ar Butte,” a documentary in Irish with English subtitles about three brothers who emigrate from Ireland to Butte with tragic consequences. It is a beautiful and sensitive portrayal of life in early 20th-century Ireland and Montana. Tickets cost $6 for one show, $10 for the double feature or $10 per show for families with children under age 14.
- March 14 – Irish Mass: The Holy Sacrifice of the Mass will be celebrated in honor of St. Patrick at 8 a.m. at St. Francis Xavier Church, 420 W. Pine St. The Ancient Order of Hibernians and the Knights of Columbus will serve, and all are invited to attend.
- March 14 – St. Patrick’s Day Parade. The St. Patrick’s Day Parade begins at noon in downtown Missoula. All participants are asked to line up by 11 a.m. Dr. Dan Combo is this year’s grand marshal, and Mr. and Mrs. Jerry Thane are Irishman and Irishwoman of the year.
- March 14 – Hurling Game. The Montana Grizzlies hurling team takes the field at 2:30 p.m. inside Washington-Grizzly Stadium. Watch the team that took the nation by storm in 2014 and won the national collegiate championship. Hurling is the oldest and fastest field sport in the world. Celebrated in ancient Irish saga, it was on the hurling field where the great heroes of Ireland first showed their mettle.
- March 14 – St. Patrick’s Day Banquet and Auction. This evening is the closest you’ll get to a gathering of the Irish clans, all coming together in support of their shared heritage and culture. It is the Friends of Irish Studies’ main fundraising event for UM’s Irish Studies Program. There will be live and silent auctions with a selection of items mostly Irish in theme and origin. The night is filled with great music, dance and conviviality. The event starts with a cocktail hour at 6 p.m. at the DoubleTree Hotel, located at 100 Madison St. in Missoula. Tickets cost $30 per person, and all information is available at http://www.friendsofirishstudies.com/.
- March 17 – St. Patrick’s Day Dinner. St. Anthony’s will hold its annual St. Patrick’s Day dinner from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. at the Parish Life Center, 217 Tremont St. There will be lashings of corned beef and cabbage to go around. Irish musicians and dancers will provide entertainment. Tickets cost $10 each in advance and for seniors, $12 at the door and $4 for kids. Children age 5 and younger are free. For more information call 406-543-3129.
- March 20-21 – Irish Traditional and Contemporary Music. Liam O’Maonlai of the Hothouse Flowers will play Montana Tech Library Auditorium in Butte on Friday, March 20, and the UM Recital Hall on Saturday, March 21. Both concerts begin at 7:30 p.m. This gifted musician and singer is one of Ireland’s most popular performers. Tickets are available in Butte at Cavanaugh’s County Celtic, in Missoula at Rockin’ Rudy’s and online at http://www.friendsofirishstudies.com/.
- March 22 – Win a Trip for Two to Ireland. The drawing for the trip takes place at 3 p.m. at St. Anthony’s Parish Life Center, 217 Tremont St. If you haven’t bought your ticket yet, time is running out. You can purchase them at Bert and Ernie’s and at O’Malley’s in Helena; Cavanaugh’s County Celtic in Butte; the Stone of Accord, the Thomas Meagher Bar and all Noon’s gas stations in Missoula. Tickets cost $5 each or $25 for a book of six. All proceeds support UM’s Irish Studies Program and promote Irish culture in Montana.
For more information call O’Riordain at 406-544-0311 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.