Somber Moment at the An Ri Ra Irish Festival Was a Good Thing
So, it was suppose to be a Saturday spent helping my daughter move, but when she was called into work, we reluctantly (not really) postponed our plans and instead "moved the moving" date to another weekend. Now, being that it was one of the last weekends of the summer and the fact that I was free (for the moment) of helping move a majority of the things my daughter accumulated over the past few years, I declared that I wasn't about to let the day go completely wasted.
Prior to agreeing to the inevitable "move", I had in the back of my mind a great interest in attending the An Ri Ra Montana Irish Festival in Butte. So, as things unraveled, I found myself roping my "teenage like" mother into an outing at the Original Mine Yard for this glorious festival! We made a pact that we would stay for 2 hours then leave to run errands, but as time went on, we truly found ourselves enthralled by the gorgeous and phenomenal Irish folklore event that filled the mine yard. As music by Ken O'Mally & Twilight Lords played on, my mom and I were quick to shed tears, as the lyrics and memorable tunes, reminded us so much of my Irish bred father and my mom's sweetheart of 62 years, who passed away in 2020.
Instantly, it took us back in time to the many gatherings that commenced at the Sullivan/Gallagher home where he was raised. From a very young age, I recall it being the meeting place on Christmas Eve, and for many family weddings, birthdays and funerals. Now, If you're Irish, you know the subtle similarities of the way funerals and weddings are celebrated in an Irish home. Singing Irish hymns non-stop, dancing as the Clancy Brothers played on an old 45 vinyl record player, while watching grown ups passionately laugh and cry...sometimes all in the same moment.
Those are the memories that overflowed while at the An Ri Ra Montana Irish Festival. Dad's spirit was definitely present at this wonderful event. He loved his Irish heritage and was quite passionate about what it meant to be of an ancestry that had to fight diligently for their rights on their own soil for centuries. Our Saturday outing continued to be golden. In observing the nearly 500 attendees, it was evident that many had their own stories to tell of their Irish heritage. Faces lit up and the energy at the Original Mine Yard was vibrant as more musical performers took to the stage along with the amazing Tiernan Irish Dancers and a renowned Irish dance group from Chicago. While there, we even consumed pasties, a Butte staple and then twisted our arms to indulge in a savory corned beef kielbasa (Ireland meets Germany concept, I guess). With vendors displaying beautiful clothing, jewelry and artifacts made in Ireland, this authentic event was beyond memorable and we look forward to next year's An Ri Ra Irish Festival. However, this time with plenty of Kleenex@ on hand when embracing our heritage and when realizing that even though our busy lives get in the way sometimes, we should always be true to our roots.