Irish in Montana, 1880-1920: cultural nationalism in exile

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Ryan, Ciara
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University College Cork
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This thesis conducts a detailed and thorough examination of the nature of Butte society and her Irish immigrants in the early 1900s from a culture and identity perspective, during crucially formative years for that city and those who settled there, or in its wider neighbourhood. Despite evidence that Butte had, comparatively, more Irish speakers than any other city in the U.S. in the early 1900s, their impact has been largely overlooked in relevant research. My dissertation aims to fill this scholarly gap. It seeks to be as broad as possible in scope, but also precise in certain instances. Much of the body of this thesis is directed towards a specific figure (and hence a specific case-study), Seán “Irish” O Sullivan (1882-1957). Ó Súilleabháin emigrated in the early 1900s from Inishfarnard island, off the Beara coast in south-west Cork. He promoted his native language extensively in Butte and was active in the town’s political, social, as well as cultural circles. By examining the wealth of personal papers he left behind, hitherto excluded from the historical record, his many works and varied life, we gain a more detailed understanding of what Irish individual and collective interests comprised in the area of Montana where he came to live, and the precise conditions which either fashioned or remoulded them. It is hoped that this dissertation demonstrates that using largely untapped primary sources in the Irish language and adopting a localised approach to urban groups can bring significant benefits to any scholarship seeking to understand ethnicity and acculturation in a wider context.
Irish , Montana , Irish language , Butte , Irish emigration , Culture , Identity , Ethnicity
Ryan, C. 2020. Irish in Montana, 1880-1920: cultural nationalism in exile. PhD Thesis, University College Cork.
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© 2020, Ciara Ryan.