Four-Leafed Fun for St. Patrick’s Day

Where to find the cultural events, parties, and concerts celebrating the luck of the Irish

By Molly Priddy
Members of the Montana Highlanders march in unison at the front of the St. Patrick's Day parade down Main Street in Kalispell. Beacon File Photo

When it comes to celebrating St. Patrick’s Day in the United States, the shamrocks are green, the beef is corned, and many folks turn out to dance with a new O’ in front of their last name.

There will be ample opportunity across the valley for such celebrations, but at the Whitefish Community Library, St. Patrick’s Day is a chance for the valley’s younger denizens to learn the deeper history of Éire with resident Irish enthusiast Kathy Borchers.

“I just love Ireland so much,” Borchers said. “I’d rather be there than anywhere else. I always start my program by saying ‘My name is Kathy Borchers but my real name is Kathleen O’Neill.”

Borchers’ father was born in Ireland, and along with being a dual citizen herself, she has traveled there extensively. Each St. Patrick’s Day for the last eight or nine years, Borchers has given her presentation on Ireland to kids at the Whitefish Community Library, where they learn about the Irish flag, its national anthem, and even the Irish words for Whitefish and Big Mountain.

This year, the children’s presentation takes place at 10:30 a.m. on March 17, but due to its popularity, Borchers will give a public presentation for all ages on Saturday, March 19, at 1 p.m. During that discussion, Borchers will not only give historical and linguistic information, but also travel tips for those seeking a journey on the Emerald Isle.

“I don’t think I’m an expert on Irish history, it’s just we’ve driven around so much that if people are going to go, I can say, ‘Be sure and don’t miss this.’”

She said the presentation includes a question-and-answer time so attendees can ask specific questions about travel. This year is also the 100th anniversary of The Easter Rising, an armed insurrection mounted by Irish republicans to end British rule in Ireland and establish an independent republic, and Borchers intends on touching on that historical aspect as well.

All presentations end with soda bread and green juice.

This is only the second year Borchers has provided a public presentation for adults, and she said last year’s turnout showed her the interest is there.

“It’s fun. I enjoy doing it,” she said. “My husband says about me, ‘Don’t get her started talking about Ireland, she’ll never stop.’ And it’s true.”

For more information on the Whitefish Community Library discussions, visit www.whitefishlibrary.org.

Here’s a breakdown of some of the major St. Patrick’s Day happenings throughout the rest of the valley, with food, drinks, and music planned for days of celebrations.

At Brannigan’s Pub in Kalispell, the festivities start on Wednesday, March 16 for the pub’s fourth annual St. Paddy’s tent party. This four-day throw down promises Irish drink specials and live music from Wednesday through Saturday.

Starting at 5 p.m. on March 16, catch the Mike Murray Duo, followed by 20 Grand at 8 p.m. On St. Patrick’s Day, the Montana Highlanders Bagpipe Band kicks off the party at 1 p.m., followed by traditional Irish music from Swift Current at 2 p.m., then John Dunnigan at 5 p.m. Jameson and the Sordid Seeds close out the evening, starting at 8 p.m.

Friday, March 18, shows off the Pedactor Project at 5 p.m., and the Comatose Posse at 8 p.m. The party continues into the weekend with God Fearing Women at 5 p.m. on March 19, and the New Wave Time Trippers closing out the weekend with a show starting at 8 p.m.

Also on March 16, join the Flathead Valley Community Band at 7:30 p.m. at Flathead High School for its spring concert, which will include songs for everyone, including a collection of Irish street ballads in “A Longford Legend.”

Head to the North Valley Eagles Club in Whitefish on March 17 for a St. Patrick’s Day dinner open to the public, where $5 will get you corned beef, cabbage, and potatoes. There will be specials on green drinks as well.

If corned beef and cabbage by the water sounds more like your speed, check out the free St. Paddy’s dinner at The Raven in Woods Bay on March 17, complete with cabbage rolls, beef, and German potato salad. Dinner starts at 5 p.m., and beverages will be available as well.

Downtown Whitefish will play host to many live music opportunities, such as McGrin and O’Bear It, who take the stage at the Great Northern Bar at 6 p.m.

And join the Ancient Order of Hiberians and the Kalispell Chamber of Commerce for the annual St. Patrick’s Day Parade, running through downtown Kalispell, starting at 4 p.m. on March 17.

For daily updates on events, check www.FlatheadEvents.net.