An Ri Ra


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Butte, Montana
We’ve been meaning to get to An Ri Ra, and we finally made it in 2017.

Butte bills itself as the most Irish city in America. Census figures bear this out, with the nation’s highest per capita population of folks with Irish descent.

Why Butte, you may ask? The answer is ‘copper’. The copper mines in and around Butte needed miners, and Irish flocked to Butte in the late 19th and early 20th Centuries.

You might also ask “What’s an An Ri Ra”?
Let’s start with the simple word “an”. It means “the” in Irish. So “An Ri Ra” means “The Ri Ra”. Got it so far?

Ri Ra (actually, Rí Rá, is more of a slang term than an Oxford English Dictionary type phrase, although slang tends to creep into the dictionary from time to time.

In any event, a Ri Ra is any sort of ruckus – a racket, quarrel, mayhem, disorder, and the like. It can be negative – “a husband and wife got into a real ri ralast night” or “there was a ri ra at the pub and the police had to be called”.

But a ri ra may also be used in the positive – “there was a ri ra at the pub last night and everyone had a grand time.”

Butte’s Ri Ra is of the positive sense. Festival admission is free, patrons sit on the grass or bring their own chairs, music is non-stop, people dance and carry, and generally have a great time.

Thursday evening was the opening reception at the historic Hotel Finlen. Food and drinks were free, which obviously means that we could not pass it up.

Friday morning was the lecture series, featuring ClanDonnell among others. Of course we had to be there for that!

Saturday was the festival, which we could not pass up. They gave us a table in the shade with a clear view of the music stage, and we had a grand time (and sold some books as well).

Sunday was the post-festival party, and we’ve never been known to pass up a party!

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