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Butte's Tiernan Irish Dancers prep for St. Patrick's Day and 20th anniversary

Butte's Tiernan Irish Dancers
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Posted at 4:39 PM, Mar 13, 2024

BUTTE — Butte’s Tiernan Irish Dancers are one of the most beloved parts of the annual St. Patrick's Day celebration. The dance group is coming up on a big milestone, and with their annual Handing Down the Heritage performance, the troop marks 20 years since bringing "the steps" to The Mining City.

"It’s 20 years, which is a little strange, ya know, who knew that it would take off like this? But we’re glad to be here. We’re glad to keep handing down, you know, the steps and our culture to the next generation in Butte," says Kerry Hall.

Hall is the head teacher of Butte’s Tiernan Irish Dancers which consists of 100 students ages three to 18 years, but she also started out as a student of the program.

"I started pretty young and now have grown up in our system and I think my favorite part about it is being a part of kids’ lives from the time when they were little and watching them grow up into real humans," says Hall.

Butte's Tiernan Irish Dancers

Each year, dancers move through the levels achieving new steps and costumes and ultimately earning their solo dresses—handmade dresses that usually come straight from Ireland and are elaborately fashioned with bright colors, sequins, and crystals. But another goal of the program is to help children understand their connection to Butte and Ireland.

"You know, those that came before us really made it a point to get this information to them and it wasn’t just a fluke. It happened on purpose. The theory goes that during the English oppression of Ireland is that the Irish dancing, Irish culture, Irish language and history wasn’t allowed," says Hall.

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Kerry Hall, head teacher of Butte's Tiernan Irish Dancers

But why is it important for Butte kids to learn about this kind of history?

"Because we’re Irish, you know? Whether they’re Irish through their family roots or whether they’re Irish through our town roots. We are an Irish town and it’s important that they know that we don’t just have St. Patrick’s Day up on the hill. We have true, actual Irish culture going on through dancing and through song and through our stories," says Hall.

You can watch the annual St. Patrick's Day parade live from Butte on our MTN channel: 4.2 in Butte, and 7.2 in Bozeman, or channel 14 on DIRECTV.

The Irish dancers also perform in the annual Handing Down the Heritage event at 6:30 p.m. at the Butte Civic Center.