Prepping for St. Patrick's Day festivities is down to the wire! Ready or not, it's game time for enthusiasts everywhere, including the very Irish community of Anaconda, Montana. The blessing of mass in the morning, followed by the traditional St. Patrick's Day parade at 2 p.m. in downtown Anaconda always sets the tone for a heartfelt celebration of Irish Heritage. Add to that the honorary grand marshals, and you have the making of a genuinely nostalgic event! That's because the grand marshals chosen for the St. Patrick's Day Parade are deeply rooted descendants of Ireland. Duo grand marshals who bear the surname Gallagher will grace this year's parade; Anaconda natives Pat Gallagher and Kathleen "Cait" (Gallagher) Francisco. Yes, two Gallaghers from different walks of life with ancestors from distinct parts of Ireland. (continued)

From my conversation with Pat Gallagher, a prominent attorney, family man, and loyal member of the Anaconda Ancient Order of Hibernians, I learned that his ancestors hailed from Donegal in northwest Ireland. The area is said to possess 63% of all "Gallaghers" in the country. As for Kathleen "Cait" Gallagher, a family-oriented Anaconda resident and freelance Irish historian, her ancestry stems from Achill Island on the west coast of the Republic of Ireland. Both Donegal and Achill Island are in the same vicinity but at a driving distance of almost 3 hours. For their ancestors, that would equivalate to about three days by horse. (more on grand marshals below)

As for Pat Gallagher's historical connection to Anaconda's Ancient Order of Hibernians, his family has been dedicated members from the beginning. Gallagher explained that his great-grandfather, "Red" Mike Murphy on his mom's side, was a distinct AOH member during the heydays of Marcus Daly, dating back to 1885. His grandfathers, Bill Gallagher, and Tom Murphy were also members, as were his beloved father and mother, Bill and Ellen (Ladies AOH). To sweeten the deal, Gallagher's grandmother Sadie (MacDonald) Murphy, was one of the first grand marshals of Anaconda's St. Patrick's Day Parade, with his parents, Bill and Ellen, following suit years later. Whew, it looks like Pat has his work cut out for him! Quite impressive! (continued...)

When it comes to "Cait" (Gallagher) Francisco, she epitomizes Irish heritage and the honorary Hibernians. Cait has been a dedicated member of the Anaconda Ladies' Ancient Order of Hibernians for decades and a proud organizer and participant of the traditional AOH Wash Women. In addition, as an educator and former owner of Anaconda's Club Moderne with her husband, the late Jack Francisco, Cait has made great strides to encourage people to value their roots and ancestry. Well done! (wrapping it up below...)

Now, onto "rubbing elbows" with the grand marshals and the coincidental part of the story; See, my connection to the "two" Gallaghers goes beyond this article. The former "Gallagher" is my relative by marriage, whereas the latter is my blood relative. Pat's wife is my second cousin Marcy (Skakles) on my mother's side, while Cait's father, Farell, and my grandmother, Helen, were brother and sister (Butte CEO JP Gallagher is her nephew and my cousin). So, now that I got that out of my system, back to the part where I remind everyone to have a safe and happy St. Patrick's Day, and while you're at it, remember to cheer on or give a simple nod to Anaconda's grand marshals during the parade for their loyalty to the community and then some! Congratulations Pat Gallagher, devoted husband to Marcy and loving father to Kiernan and Sean. To Kathleen "Cait" Gallagher, congratulations, beloved wife of the late Jack Francisco and adoring mother to Michelle, Kathy, late daughter Teresa, and John. (Enjoy more pics of the Gallagher persuasion below)

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