The Back Story of Butte Tiernan


The AnRiRa Irish Festival originated and sponsored by the Montana Gaelic Cultural Society in 1998, featured local and regional musicians and dancers. It was held in Missoula for five years. The festival moved from Missoula to Butte in 2003. The Butte organizers decided that the festival was ready to go national and international for entertainment along with celebrating our local and regional talent. It was that move that brought the world champion Trinity Irish Dancers of Chicago and Milwaukee, to Butte and An Ri Ra. Irish dance changed in Montana forever.Prior to 2003, Butte had a ceili dance club called the Corktown Dancers, named after an historic Butte neighborhood. The talent of those dancers had surpassed the instruction that was available and the club was searching for a T.C.R.G. instructor. That same year the instructor for The Carrigan School of Irish Dance in Helena had retired, so they were also searching for an instructor. Mark Howard, founder and artistic director of the Trinity Academy of Irish Dance, accompanied his troupe of dancers to Butte for An Ri Ra. Mark, a bit of a history buff, was swept up in the heritage of Butte and Helena and the energy and spirit of the people. After several historic tours and meetings with parents of dancers, Mark and the parent coordinators of each school had come up with a plan to fly Trinity instructors into Montana. The Tiernan Irish Dance School was born. The Tiernan Irish Dancers have enjoyed the support and guidance of Mark Howard and the tremendous instructors of the Trinity school. Butte dancers have performed for the President of Ireland and several Irish Ambassadors and Irish Consuls General along with annual performances celebrating and honoring the heritage of Butte. The exciting choreography and instruction of the Trinity and Tiernan school system has inspired hundreds of young Butte dancers.Our school operates like a family, where our older dancers inspire and help our younger dancers. Each class level benefits from older dancers who volunteer their time and talent to hand down the traditions of Irish dance to their younger dance siblings. It is the belief of The Tiernan Irish Dance Organization that children who are connected to their heritage (Irish or other) are empowered to make better decisions for their futures.There is also a place for enthusiastic parents to participate. The Tiernan Parent Booster Club is a not for profit organization that supports and promotes our dancers. It is a great place for parents to focus their energy and talents to provide opportunities for our dancers to continue their journey in Irish dance.