MISSOULA – This St. Patrick’s Day, the University of Montana’s Irish Studies program and Global Engagement Office will hold a variety of Irish-themed events.
“The month of March is when we celebrate St. Patrick’s Day and all things Irish,” said Traolach Ó Ríordáin, UM’s director of Irish Studies. “It is the time of year when we look back on our past and ahead to our future – the future we will leave to our kids and grandkids. We invite all the people of Montana to join us in celebrating our past and in helping us to build our future.”
These traditional St. Patrick’s Day events will take place on Saturday, March 16, in Missoula:
- 8 a.m. – Irish Catholic Mass at St. Francis Xavier church in honor of St. Patrick.
- 11 a.m. – Parade lineup.
- Noon – Parade begins on Higgins Avenue.
- 2 p.m. – Hurling game in UM’s Washington-Grizzly Stadium.
- 2 p.m. – Irish Whiskey Tasting at the Rhino Bar.
- 2 to 4 p.m. – Free Carousel rides for children.
- 6 to 9:30 p.m. – Friends of Irish Studies Banquet and Auction in support of Irish Studies and culture in Montana at the Holiday Inn, Missoula Downtown.
The Banquet and Auction at the Holiday Inn is the big fundraiser for the Irish Studies program. Proceeds from the event promote Irish culture in the community, assist in the growth and development of the Irish Studies program and help students study in Ireland.
Tickets are $30 per person and available for purchase online or at the door. For more information, to purchase tickets or to donate to the Friends of Irish Studies, visit http://www.friendsofirishstudies.com.
All events are supported by the Irish Government’s Emigrant Support Programme.
This year’s International Festival, held from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. in the University Center on Sunday, March 17, also will feature an Irish Extravaganza in celebration of St. Patrick’s Day.
According to Ó Ríordáin, Ireland and Montana have had a very special relationship since the first emigrants arrived in the territory. These emigrants and their sons and daughters have contributed much to the history and character of the state.
“The contributions of Thomas Francis Meagher, Marcus Daly and Mike Mansfield have been well-documented, but the contributions of so many more have gone unheralded,” Ó Ríordáin said. “Just as they served their new home in Montana, the Irish of this state never lost their love or commitment to Ireland.”
Montana became one of five great Irish-American strongholds during Ireland’s struggle for independence and a gathering place for every Irish nationalist leader.
Today, the state continues to occupy a very prominent and special place in the Irish culture as the home to active music, dance, language and sports clubs, as well as the largest Irish studies program west of the Mississippi – all supported and sustained by the people of Montana.