Ireland's president, Mary McAleese, offered "a thousand thank you's" to the people of Montana on Wednesday.
"I came to say thank you and to refresh very old ties of kinship, for this state welcomed the Irish when they had no means of support at home," she said. "The Irish were completely beaten. They were feisty and deeply intelligent, but they had to leave Ireland.
"Montana helped sustain those Irish and give them the means to develop a better life for themselves and their families for generations to come," she said.
McAleese's trip to Butte included stops at the World Museum of Mining and the Butte-Silver Bow Archives. She had lunch with Gov. Brian Schweitzer and 200 other state, local and business leaders, and later attended a reception with more than 300 members of Butte's Irish community. On Wednesday night, she spoke to a packed house at the Maroon Activity Center.
McAleese was in Missoula, Montana, on Tuesday to announce a $40,000 ( Ђ 31,051) donation from the government of Ireland to the University of Montana's new Irish Studies program.
"I took some comfort in traveling from Missoula to here in the beauty, the grandeur of the country," McAleese said during her luncheon talk Wednesday. "At least your ancestors had that, even though they were working in the dark, underground mines. It gave me a great lift,"reports the AP.
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