from National Director John Wilson …
What do you call a person who loves snow? A Montanan! They really look forward to winter more than anyone I’ve ever met. They love skiing, hunting, fishing hiking and enjoy having a fire in the wood stove in their living room. Montana is the Buffalo, New York of the West. On February 12th the Hibernians in Great Falls, Montana awoke to 28 to 30 additional inches of snow. The Hibernians see it as a great time to head to the mountains and go skiing.
In the late 19th and early 20th centuries the Irish who came west and settled in the great state of Montana formed many Divisions of the AOH. This movement declined with the Americanization of the Irish until only one Division remained that of Anaconda, which survived up to the present day.
A revival of Hibernianism began in Helena in 1982 with a new unit named the Thomas Francis Meagher Division, which soon had 120 members. Subsequently, five more Montana units sprang to life, until now the spirit and dedication of the Hibernian concept has a strong foothold. Within that time, new or revived divisions arose in Butte, Kalispell, Missoula, Great Falls, and Billings for a total of seven statewide, numbering over 600 members. Meanwhile, a state board was created to govern the membership. Today in Montana, Hibernianism is strong and healthy.
Montana has a goal for each division to remain committed to their community and their state, by providing Irish heritage and historical events, as well as supporting Catholic education through mentoring and scholarships. The Hibernians organize and conduct the annual celebration and parade on Saint Patrick’s Day in Great Falls despite an average snowfall of 12” in March and temperatures in the 20-40 degrees. While most Divisions celebrate Saint Patrick’s Day almost as a rite of Spring, Montanans will most likely still be in the grips of Winter ~ and loving it!