Tonight we will be watching and shouting for the Fighting Irish of Notre Dame as they play their championship game of the college football season.
South Bend is just a few hours drive from Louisville and perhaps someday one of our sons or daughter will attend those hallowed halls of learning, or set foot on one of their sacred sports’ fields cheered by throngs of screaming fans.
The movie Rudy was released a few short years after I moved to America. This heart wrenching story of one young boy’s dreams of playing football for Notre Dame, despite incredible obstacles, furthered my support of the Fighting Irish.
But let’s face it, the main reason my husband and I chose to shout for Notre Dame is all related to their nickname. No born and bred Irish person could fail to feel an alliance with a team dubbed “The Fighting Irish.”
And so, I decided to write an article today to justify my allegiance to Notre Dame and to explain their strong ties to the old sod. You can imagine my disappointment when I read directly from the college’s own website that the origins of the moniker are ambiguous, at best. I quote:
“Exactly where and how Notre Dame’s athletic nickname,
“Fighting Irish,” came to origination never has been perfectly
One tale tells how in 1899, opposing Northwestern fans whose team was losing at half-time, buoyed their team in the second half by chanting “Kill the Fighting Irish”.
Another story links the name to a 1909 game against Michigan. When the team was losing at half-time one Notre Dame player rallied his team mates whose names were Dolan, Kelly, Glynn, Duffy and Ryan, by shouting at them -
“What’s the matter with you guys?
You’re all Irish and you’re not fighting worth a lick.”
The taunt was overheard by the press and the name supposedly stuck.
The most widely accepted explanation of the name is that the press coined the term, initially with some less than complimentary connotations for a small, private school with a little known sports team. But as those Irish fought their way to football supremacy, the name took on a new meaning, representing their tenacity, grit, and determination. In 1927 the school officially adopted the nickname.
So whatever the origins of the name, this Irish woman will be supporting her team of Fighting Irish tonight.
Show Alabama what you’re made of!
Slán agus beannacht leat!
(Goodbye and blessings)
Irish American Mom