UM Director of Irish Studies Traolach O’Riordain joined the KGVO studio to talk about St Patrick’s Day festivities in Missoula. O’Riordain says that, as Montana is one of the “most Irish” states in the country, there are numerous events in Missoula each year to celebrate Irish culture and heritage.

About the St. Patrick’s Day schedule, O’Riordain says that “we begin with mass at 8 AM down at St. Francis Xavier’s church, and then we have our parade—the assembly’s at 11 AM and we depart at 12 PM. I encourage people to participate in the parade and put a float in.”

To enter a float into the St. Patrick’s Day parade, O’Riordain says to fill out an application from the Missoula Chamber of Commerce before March 12.

“After the parade, there’s whiskey tasting at the Rhino Bar…we have a whole selection of Irish whiskey and there is food provided so you will have a foundation in the stomach so you don’t get twisted. There will be carousel rides for the kids [free until 4 PM]. The big event is that evening: we have our silent auction, live auction, and big banquet, for a celebration of Irish culture.”

Tickets to the St. Patrick’s Day Great Irish Banquet are $30, and proceeds will support the Irish Studies Program and other cultural groups. The banquet will be held at the Holiday Inn in downtown Missoula.

Each year, the Irish Man and Irish Woman of the Year are honored at the banquet for their contribution of Irish culture and heritage. This year’s awardees are Chris Sullivan and Clair Leonard.

Sullivan of Colorado is a founder of the Irish band Malarkey and created the first Irish music camp in Montana, the Mission Mountain Irish Music Camp.

Leonard is an Ireland native who teaches Irish language classes, and has promoted Irish culture to children in schools.

Other St. Patrick’s Day events include the Run for the Luck of It run, which starts at 9 AM at Bonner Park. On Wednesday, March 18, the Irish band Dervish will be performing traditional and interpretive Irish music at the UM Recital Hall.

O’Riordain encourages those interested to join the Friends of Irish Studies. The group has fostered a community of Irish lovers who host events and teach about Irish culture. To join Friends of Irish Studies, or to buy tickets to St. Patrick’s Day events, click here.