In 1938, my grandfather, Deane Morris, took a boat from Cork, Ireland with his wife, Helen.
They, eventually, ended up in Alberta, Canada looking for work. He spent a bit of time working on the farms. However, they promptly left Canada in 1939, when Canada joined the hated English in World War II. They (illegally) crossed the border to the Irish’s favorite town, Butte, America. They stayed in Butte, even after the US also joined the English in 1941. Deane worked in the mines while Helen raised their 14 children, the youngest of which is my father, Michael Deane Morris. Deane died in Butte at the young age of 42.
Even as I grew up in Missoula, my family was fiercely Irish and, in our own way, Butte Irish. We followed the Irish National Soccer Team. My father strongly believed in a unified Ireland and, I believe, may have made donations to the IRA. The spelling of my name – Sean – is, of course, the Irish spelling. This caused no end of confusion with teachers and peers all through school. It took me until I was much older to get comfortable having a different sort of name. As I think about it, maybe being Irish clicked for me in 1996 when my father was the named Missoula Irishman of the Year. In his acceptance speech, he talked about the Irish flag and how it “is only proper that the Protestant orange was separated from the Catholic green by the peaceful white.”
Indeed, as I became more comfortable with my immigrant background, I publicly expressed my pride in subtle ways.
I’ve incorporated the Irish harp into my hockey team’s jerseys and have traveled to Ireland, including the Cork-area where my grandfather lived.
And, of course, I have celebrated the number of talented people of Irish descent who end up in law and, even more, end up at Worden Thane P.C. There is definitely something about being Irish that gives you an advantage.