Year of Award


Document Type


Degree Type

Master of Arts (MA)

Degree Name


Department or School/College


Committee Chair

G.G Weix

Committee Co-chair

Kelly Dixon

Commitee Members

Jeff Wiltse, Traolach O'Riordain


butte, festivals, parades, montana, irish, history


University of Montana

Subject Categories

Anthropology | Celtic Studies | Cultural History | History | Oral History | Public History | Social and Cultural Anthropology | United States History


Butte, Montana is a tough, historic industrial town in western Montana known for its mining, its Irish, and strangely, its festivals. The city boasts countless parades and community events each year for a variety of holidays as well as for showcases of traditions and ethnic pride. Three celebrations in particular, St. Patrick’s Day, Fourth of July, and An Rí Rá, attract visitors from all over the country – and world – who seek to experience the enthusiasm and splendor of these celebrations. So, what can these popular celebrations in Montana’s Festival City, Butte, reveal about the Irish community living there? Relatedly, has this negotiation of cultural identity changed over time, and if so, how? Finally, this research specifically investigates what the growing popularity of Irish dance at Butte’s various festivals reveals about the identity of the Irish community in Butte. Using interdisciplinary archival and ethnographic research methods, this thesis explores how the Butte Irish community navigates and expresses ethnic identity, in particular through their parades and festivals. As a work of anthropology examining the Butte Irish community’s identity through the lens of festival, this research provides a unique vision of the Butte Irish, who have been studied historically but not contemporarily or even cross-temporally. Additionally, this research relies on oral histories from Butte residents which will create a distinctly personal and local understanding of Butte Irish identities.



© Copyright 2020 Margaret Mary Walsh