Irish heritage celebrated at the Montana State Capitol

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Posted at 7:51 AM, Mar 16, 2024

HELENA — Governor Greg Gianforte raised the flag of Ireland on the steps of the capitol on Friday at 8 AM.

Afterwards, those in attendance proceeded to the Rotunda where the Governor proclaimed March 17 as Irish Heritage Day in Montana. Performances from The Pipes and Drums of the Black Devils as well as the Tiernan Irish Dancers also took place.

This was all done in celebration of St. Patrick’s Day weekend.

Patrick Flaherty, President of the Thomas Francis Meagher Division of the Ancient Order of Hibernians in Helena, an Irish cultural group, says remembering each of our own individual heritage can help unite us as a country.

“But we need to keep our heritage because that's what keeps us tied together in unity. And you know, that cultural feeling with each other, about each other, about what we have done in the past, what our forefathers have done, that's what's important. It gives us that unique flavor and that unique ability to reach across the aisle and talk to the other fellow and talk to the other lady and see what their opinions are. But it's important to remember what we have been in the past,” says Flaherty.

One of Montana’s most famous Irishmen, Thomas Francis Meagher came to Montana during the mid-19th century and fought in the Civil War before moving to Big Sky Country where he was appointed the Secretary of the Territory of Montana, but was quickly appointed as acting territorial governor.

Before that, he fought the British and lead a rebellion with a group known as “Young Ireland”. Meagher was also the first Irishman to fly the tricolor flag now known as Ireland’s flag. The green on the flag symbolizes Roman Catholics, the orange represents the Protestants, and the white signifies a lasting peace and hope for union between the two.