Being Irish is not required to join in, as the Friends of Irish Studies in Missoula gears up for their annual celebrations.

The annual Friends of Irish Studies St. Patrick's Day banquet and auction will be held Saturday, March 12, starting at 6:00 p.m. at the Holiday Inn Missoula Downtown. It promises to be an evening of culture and mirth.

You, your children and your grandchildren can learn Irish dance, enjoy Irish music and learn the stories of Montana's Irish-Americans. Tickets to the banquet are $30, available at the door or in advance online here.

There are many activities prior to the banquet that day as well. That includes mass at St. Francis Xavier Church at 8:00 a.m. There will be Irish whiskey tasting at the Rhino Bar at 2:00 p.m. And the Holiday Inn Missoula Downtown will host pipers, music and dancing beginning at 3:00 p.m.

Friends of Irish Studies will also host a free online concert at noon, March 17.

The University of Montana may be a wee bit more Irish than you think. The Irish Studies program at UM is a collaboration between the College of Humanities and Sciences and the College of Visual and Performing Arts. This collaboration supports an 18-credit minor that provides students access to instruction, study and research in the fields of language, history, literature, film, drama, music and dance as well as the opportunity to participate in the preservation and promotion of the Irish language and culture. The St. Patrick's Day events planned this year help support those ambitions.

Friends of Irish Studies will also be hosting a celebration with music, food vendors,  beverages and more Saturday, July 30, Caras Park, downtown Missoula.

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