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Audio Recording Father Sarsfield O'Sullivan, Irish American priest in Butte, Montana, first interview, part 3

Father Sarsfield O'Sullivan, Irish priest

About this Item


  • Father Sarsfield O'Sullivan, Irish American priest in Butte, Montana, first interview, part 3


  • Stanton, Gary Ward, 1946- (Collector)
  • Johnson, Paula J., 1954- (Collector)
  • Toelken, Barre, 1935- (Collector)
  • O' Sullivan, Sarsfield (Interviewee)

Created / Published

  • Butte, Montana, August 26, 1979


  • -  Poetry
  • -  Irish Americans
  • -  Folklore
  • -  Folk songs, Irish
  • -  Fairies
  • -  Ethnography
  • -  Field recordings
  • -  Interviews
  • -  Sound recordings
  • -  United States -- Montana -- Butte


  • Ethnography
  • Field recordings
  • Interviews
  • Sound recordings


  • -  Index data: Part 3 of a 5-part recording session with Father Sarsfield O'Sullivan at the St. Lawrence O'Toole Roman Catholic Church rectory in Butte MT: fieldworker Barre Toelken and O'Sullivan talk about the Irish folklorist and collector, Sean O' Sullivan; story of Mary McSweeney who came to Butte, her brother was the Lord Mayor of Cork, died in a hunger strike, one that had a great impact on the Irish community; about Arthur Griffin who suggested an alternative to armed revolution: elect members to Parliament, but refuse to go to England and sit in Dublin instead; this was a terrific event in Sean O'Sullivan's mind, and he wrote a poem about it; Father O'Sullivan recites the poem; Sarsfield's father Sean asked Mary McSweeney to identify the freestaters (people who signed [the 1921 Anglo-Irish] treaty) on the photograph, she did, right over their faces with an X; in Butte, majority of Irish were anti-treaty and followers of Eamon de Valera, mentions ballad "Up Up de Valera" written by Dan Holland about the treaty; hums tune, "My Heart's in the Highlands"; about names in Butte; Sean named boys after famous Irishmen, e.g,, the 17th century Irish general Patrick Sarsfield, brother named after Eamon de Valera (sometimes spelled Eamonn); other brothers named after famous Irishmen, but sister not named after favorite Irish woman, the Countess Markievicz [Constance Georgine Markievicz], an English woman by birth, married a Polish man, and turned Catholic; about the time the Countess came to Butte, sympathetic to the cause, the first woman elected to parliament; Eamon remembers when the Countess visited Butte, she asked Sean, "What would you do to a priest who was an informer?" Sean replied, "I'd have him shot," Sean was surprised there was any doubt in her mind, about the FBI opening mail while Eamon and Sarsfield were at at Seminary; their father Sean was a strong union man, blackballed by Anaconda because of involvement in 1917 strike; about visits from prominent Irishmen to Butte, once considered a center of Irish activity, hardly any of that left now, no active Irish organizations in Butte now, Butte is now cosmopolitan; Sarsfield's brother Eamon could remember a Turkish coffee house in Butte; about an older priest he had just finished talking to on the telephone, had health problems but was recovering, "a genuine gift of the Holy Spirit"; fieldworker Gary Stanton asks if anyone told fairy stories; Father O'Sullivan explains about apocrypha, "pious legends," some of those stories have persisted, e.g., the Holy Family hid in cave and spiders wove a web across the opening and Herod's soldiers don't stop and capture them; about D.B. Windom's [D. B. Wyndham Lewis ?] Christmas Book, short story about priest giving three masses on Christmas, aroma of great feast makes priest speed up, so fast, he sins and has to serve penance thereafter; about a story from O'Sullivan's mother in which a priest on horseback tries to catch up to a man in front of him, dressed in black with a black hat, priest follows, men in house are fighting, priest breaks up fight and the man in black not there, he had been the devil come to take away the one who was about to die in sin; about wee people, Father O'Sullivan remembered phrase for when berries suddenly turn rotten, the first reference to fairies he heard from his father, if berries spoiled, "the pooka [puca] spat on 'em"; about censorship and embellishment in each generation; about St. Caskin's Well in Ireland, on a sheer cliff where it is said people are carried away by fairies.


  • 7-inch reel

Call Number/Physical Location

  • Call number: AFC 1981/005: AFS 20438
  • MBRS shelflist: RXA 0924
  • Field project identifier: MT9-GS-R53

Source Collection

  • Montana Folklife Survey collection (AFC 1981/005)


  • American Folklife Center

Digital Id

Online Format

  • audio

Rights & Access

The Library of Congress believes that some of the materials in this collection are in the public domain or have no known copyright restrictions, and are therefore free to use or reuse. For example, the fieldwork in this collection is in the public domain in the United States.

However, the Library has obtained permission for the use of other materials, and presents additional materials for educational and research purposes in accordance with fair use under United States copyright law. For example, some of the recordings contain copyrighted music, and not all of the performers and other individuals who were recorded signed releases for public use of their work.

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Credit line: Montana Folklife Survey collection (AFC 1981/005), American Folklife Center, Library of Congress

Cite This Item

Citations are generated automatically from bibliographic data as a convenience, and may not be complete or accurate.

Chicago citation style:

Stanton, Gary Ward, Paula J Johnson, Barre Toelken, and Sarsfield O' Sullivan. Father Sarsfield O'Sullivan, Irish American priest in Butte, Montana, first interview, part 3. Butte, Montana, 1979. Audio.

APA citation style:

Stanton, G. W., Johnson, P. J., Toelken, B. & O' Sullivan, S. (1979) Father Sarsfield O'Sullivan, Irish American priest in Butte, Montana, first interview, part 3. Butte, Montana. [Audio] Retrieved from the Library of Congress,

MLA citation style:

Stanton, Gary Ward, et al. Father Sarsfield O'Sullivan, Irish American priest in Butte, Montana, first interview, part 3. Butte, Montana, 1979. Audio. Retrieved from the Library of Congress, <>.