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Irish hero and pioneering Montana leader Thomas Francis Meagher subject of a Butte exhibit



Butte, Montana – The story of an Irish war hero, rabble-rouser, and one of Montana’s founding fathers is shown in a new Butte Library exhibit, which debuted just in time for St. Patrick’s Day. His life reads like an epic novel.

“The name of the thing is the Odyssey of Thomas Francis Meagher. I really think it’s an odyssey when you look back on his life,” said Butte Librarian Shari Curtis.

24 oil pastel drawings that highlight significant events in Meagher’s life, such as the Irish rebellion, his exile to Australia and escape, his time as the commander of the Irish Brigade for the Union in the American Civil War, and his time as the territorial governor of Montana, capture the odyssey.

Stephen Glueckert, a painter from Missoula, claimed that his interest in Meagher was sparked by his mother’s Irish pride.

“You know, whenever we would visit family in Helena, we would always go by the statue in front of the Capitol and she would always remind us what a great man he was,” said Glueckert.

Meagher served as the territorial governor of Montana for a brief period of time before passing away tragically in the Missouri River at the age of 43 in 1867. But for Montana, he had grand plans.

“His idea for Montana was to create this Irish oasis, so people could come from Ireland and be here and still continue on their agrarian lifestyle,” said Curtis.

Meagher allegedly fell from a steamboat while intoxicated, according to some. Meagher will be portrayed by Glueckert’s presentation as a vibrant Irish hero.

“We can’t believe the stereotype and I want to dispel that stereotype. You know, he contributed to the state and the vitality of the state and he sought the truth and he sought justice for people,” said Glueckert.

The exhibition is open to the public and is located in the Carle Gallery on the third floor of the Butte Library. Up till about mid-April. On March 26 at 2 p.m., the artist will be present.

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